Saturday, November 22, 2014

Kalyos material

I got this broken computer chair from the school's janitor
for sixty pesos and nailed a circular plyboard
 on it  and it worked well as a turntable for working on
 bonsai materials.

It's frustrating how some of the bonsai materials I have been working on do not seem to grow or develop fast enough. It's been almost three years now since I have started the hobby and yet there's not a tree in my collection that I could say even resemble a tree because most of them are still stumps. 

I know, patience...

My niece Brielle who together with my mother and sister were
vacationing here in Cainta.
I have not been doing much with my hobby except pull the weeds off the trainer pots but since I have collected almost a hundred bonsai materials, this is keeping me busy most weekends. It's good because it keeps my hands off from twiddling with the developing materials that may  end up killing them. 

I went to Katipunan this morning to look at the materials that "Barok", the bonsai hunter, had collected from the wild but I met him on his way home, which obviously meant his materials were already sold. I asked and he smiled and told me that this was so. 

Anyway, I continued on towards the street where he and his hunter friends ply their trade to check some materials hoping that I could find that "perfect" trunk form, which does not exist, of course, because they are all stumps and perfection is really nothing but a subjective blah, blah, blah wishful thinking. 

I got these three kalyos (strabler asper) for a hundred each. This was a bargain considering the hunters dig these up and travel them to Quezon City all the way from the mountains or wherever they hunt for these material which definitely is not in the metro manila area. Of course whether the materials live or die is another thing. That's the risk of buying raw materials instead of buying established materials, but there's the excitement and fun with looking out for the little leaf buds that could mean that the material survived or it  could turn out to be nothing but the trunk releasing its reserved energy and it was really already dead. Yes there are time where materials sprout leaves but not roots. Ficuses especially Ficus benjamina is notorious for this. Anyway, established materials are about five to ten times more expensive.

Kalyos is a good material but looking at these yamadoris, there's not that much to expect from them but I guess with or without the "artistic potentialities", it's really  up to me, the hobbyist ( I dare not call myself an artist) to train and shape this tree to its ideal form.

Well, lets see after a year or two.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Another molave

 I potted this molave (vitex cofassus) about two years ago. It's time to "operate" on it.

Checking the root growth.

Reduction area identified.



Sunday, September 14, 2014

Molave reduction

 A molave (vutex pavlifora) tree planted in a pot.  I have had this for two years. 

I decided to reduce it now.

It is big leafed vitex but with the reduction it will adapt and produce small leaves (I hope).

I exposed the roots. It looks like a giraffe...

Saturday, September 06, 2014

School Repair

Grade six is housed in the Rodriguez Building which was commissioned in January 1969. The building is 45 years old. 

I'm not an engineer but judging from the size of the concrete columns and the  concrete beams, the structure  was made to last except for the floor trusses and slats which was made of wood.

The wood trusses and slats were heavily infested and consumed by termites that the tremor created by a pupil jumping in the room at end of the building could be felt in the room at the other end of the building.

We were informed that there will repairs (maybe retrofitting) of the building. Most of the teachers would like to see the old building demolished and a new building erected in its place but since the school has no available space, I think the demolition will not happen in the near future. I just can't see where the contractor will put the debris and the construction materials aside from the disruptions it will cause to the whole school.

I am glad that the old building will be rehabilitated but I just have one question: Why are they doing this today in the middle of the school year when classes are in full blast and the work will cause disruptions? I mean, we have two months of summer vacation. 

I'm not complaining just asking. 

Anyway, I'm just a classroom teacher.

Mulawin Materials

I don't know which is the mulawin aso from the mulawin surot.

Friday, September 05, 2014


A potted balete from cuttings.  It has grown wild and too big for me.

 I decided to cut it into two.
 I was checking where to split it.
 Because it has been growing in a large pot, it developed radial roots.
 These are the two materials I got out of the tree. Planted in my crude trainer pots. Aside from the trunk, I also planted the top part for future use.

Sunday Hunting

 One of the things I enjoy is bathing in the rain. I was not ready for it last Sunday. I got off the jeepney when it poured and i did not even try to take cover..  

These are bignay pugo stumps (Antidesma bugnius). Bignay is a fruit bearing tree native to the Philippines and is a popular material for bonsai enthusiasts. 

It is also known as bugnay in Ilocos and isip-isip in Pampanga. It is a robust, easy to grow tree.  It's fruits are used in making wine.

I don't know how this material will turn out or if they will even live. I potted it useing my homemade concrete trainer pots.
This will be a fun journey.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Bonsai Branch Guide

Taken from cutebonsai

Some guidelines on which branch to remove or to keep.

1. Branches (called "yagome") growing from the bottom of the tree.(Yagome is just a sprout first but when it becomes a branch (yagoeda), it takes all the nutrition and can kill the other new growing branches on the tree.)

2. Branches (called "kan-nuki eda" or "boat") growing at the same height on the both sides of the tree and one of them should be removed

3. Branches crossing the trunk.

4. Branches growing close to each other and are short, of the same length and in the same direction. (ruins the space that makes good bonsai visual form.)

5. Branches (called "dou-nuki eda") growing from the middle of the trunk. It blocks good growth condition.

6. Branches (called "tachi eda") growing straight up.

7. Branches (called "sagari eda") growing straight down.

8. Branches (called "gyaku eda") growing in the opposite way of the branch they are growing from.

9. Branches (called "kuruma eda") growing from the same spot in many different directions.

10. Branches (called "kousa eda") crossing other branches.

11. Branches (called "Tochoshi") growing much longer than other branches. (however, this branch is sometimes used to adjust the growth of other branches and/or growth of the trunk for the purpose of making the trunk and other branches thicker or to slow down their growth.)

12. (Not pictured) Branches pointing at the viewer from the front side of the bonsai. (this is because pointing at someone is considered to be rude in Japan. No exception even for bonsai I guess)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

My pupils' top excuses for being absent in their classes

Checking the class attendance is a daily routine that can make or unmake my day. I and most basic education teacher, I guess, take class attendance seriously because it is in the grade school where the study habit of a student is established which is just as important as the academic learning they gain in school. Another obvious reason is that pupils do badly in examinations if they are often absent.

Sometimes we even have to call up their parents for a conference about their children's school attendance; we try to make sure that parents know that their children are not in schools because there are time when parents are not aware that their children are not attending school anymore. 

Its sad when pupils drop out of classes because of absenteeism.

Anyway, here are my pupils' top ten excuses for being absent in their classes :  

10. A neighbor told me that classes are suspended

There was a slight drizzle the morning before but after a few minutes the sun shone brightly. After a few minutes of settling down, I checked the attendance and one pupil was absent. 

The day after, I asked her thy she wasn't at school yesterday, and she replied, "my neighbor told me that classes were suspended, sir."

Me: "Who is your neighbor?"  

Pupil: "Sir, it's Iking?" 

Me: "Who is Iking?! Is he the principal? Is he the Mayor? Is he the President? Who is he that you believed him! Who is he" I told him showing a little bit of grit.

Class:  "Sir, Iking is a grade two pupil! Hahahahahaha" they all laughed.

Me: "You believed a grade two pupil!?"

Pupil: "Children don't lie!"

This happened more than once.

9. My clothes are still wet

Me: "You can come to school wearing any clothes as long as you are not naked!" I shouted.

Pupil: "Sir, we have no roof! The typhoon damaged our house."

"Okay" How can I argue with that.

8. My mother is sick

Me: "Are you a doctor? Will your mother feel better if you're not in school!"

Pupil: "Sir, I take care of my four siblings."

Me: "Whatever!"

7. My brother/sister is sick

Me: "You're running out of excuses!"

6. A relative died

Me:"Who died?"

Pupil:"My mother's cousin."

Me: 'Did your dead uncle rose from the dead when you skipped school?"

Pupil:"No sir"

Me: "Would you like to follow your dead uncle?"

Pupil: "No sir"

Me: "Don't skip school!"

5. Traffic

Me: "Where do you live? In Tanay, Makati, Cubao?

Pupil: "Sir, down there a few turns from the school."

4. I had a fever

Me: "Where's the doctor's certificate?"

Pupil: "Sir, we don't go to doctors; we go to the hilots."

Me; "Where's the hilot and the albularyo's certificate?"

Pupil "Hmmmmm...."

Me: "Sitdown!"

3. I woke up late

Me: "Grrrrrrrr"

2. I had an LBM

Me: "Did you bring me a sample....? Okay, wheres the certificate?"

1. We have no money

Then the drama begins...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

How to start a bonsai hobby

Some of the materials for sale in a
bonsai shop in Diliman Quezon City.
Like most hobbies, bonsai will cost money. The cost will depend on the material and the price of the material will depend on the species, size, trunk, branches and other artistic qualities. 

Materials like the Bantigue, which is found on beaches and islands, is expensive and so are other rare indigenous trees and imported materials. Definitely not for beginners.

The ones I buy are the smaller ones
beside the larger bonsais.
But  local and popular species like balete, bignay, kamuning bilog and haba, mulawin etc. are affordable and if you live in rural areas, they could be collected from mountains for free, but be informed that collecting trees in the wild is regulated by the DENR. I read that because of extensive bonsai hunting, Bantigue and other local indigenous trees are now threatened. In Japan, the practice of yamadori (bonsai hunting) almost wiped out their wild junipers and has since replenished them in the wild.  

Another thing to consider is the size of bonsai you want to keep. I live in a crowded place where I have to pass through narrow eskenitas to get to our house definitely large bonsai is not suitable in this situation. 

Many of their materials are rock grown
 and rock clasping.
So, my materials are small, easy to transport, move around, change places, and maintain. I can lift the pot on the working table without any trouble unlike large bonsai that requires two to three persons to move making it difficult to maintain.

Indoor or outdoor? Mine are all outdoors. Select species suitable for your purpose. Ficuses are suitable indoor bonsai.

Where do I get the materials? If you're like me who do not have the time and the opportunity to hunt in the wild, you can get affordable materials at UP Diliman near the Science Complex. This is where I shop for materials, relatively near where I live. 

Do not buy materials from ordinary gardens shops because they (well, most of them) think that they are selling bonsai when in fact what they are selling are materials. Once I saw a small kalyos material on display in garden shops at Taytay Market, I asked how much it costs, without blinking an eye, the shop owner told me, "Five thousand pesos." I was shocked. I told her that the kalyos is a material and not yet a bonsai, it will still take years before it become one. She was oblivious insisting that it was a bonsai by pointing at the aluminum wires wrapped around a lanky branch--might as as well wrap an aluminum wire around a tomato tree's branch and call it a bonsai.

                                                             How about tools and implements?

These are my "surgical" instruments:
1. Hacksaw blade for reducing trunks and
    cutting large branches
2. Ordinary scissors
3. Itak for cultivating
4. Aluminum wires from junkshops/
     or from meralco linemen
5. Insect spray for aphids and other bugs.
6. Malathion.
7. Sand.
8. Hammer for carving rocks etc.
8. Clipper

How much do these cost?

Clipper= 100 Pesos
Scissors=50 Pesos
Aluminum Wires=250-300 a kilo
Spray=50 Pesos
Hacksaw blade 24 tpi=30 Pesos
Malathion 50=Pesos
Hammer=standard household tool. 
Every house has one.
Fertilizer=Urea, 20 pesos a month

How about pots?

Another article. I'm still learning about it.
How much does it cost?

Most of the materials I buy cost from three to five hundred pesos each, depends on how I haggle with the shop owner. I buy small materials which is six inches to a foot high. Same price as any ordinary garden plants or orchids or roses (not the mini roses).

As for the price of the larger material, they could go from a couple of thousand pesos to twenty thousand up depending on the species and other "artistic" quality of the material. 

I started my hobby with a five hundred pesos.

Of course just as important is education. Engaging in the hobby requires a lot of things to consider like training, defoliating, trimming, repotting, fertilizing, soil mixture, amount of sunlight etc

But don't be bothered by these stuffs most local trees will survive and thrive planted in ordinary soil, in direct sunlight while they are in training. Just don't forget to water the trees and fertilize them, remember they are in pots and have no access to nutrients and water or moisture from the ground. 

All information about these topics are readily available on the internet through local bonsai forums and bonsai blogs. No need to cram, believe me you have all the time in the world to learn about these things. Research.

And the most important requirement: Patience!