Kwento Kwentuhan

Maui Blooms, Philippines Blooms
Let’s talk about these “Bulaklak.”

Liza of “A Maui Blog”

Spring is here and May Day is just around the corner. It’s a great time to talk story about flowers and blooms! Three popular Maui blooms comes to my mind. These three flowers are not only popular here in Hawai‘i but are popular in the Philippines as well.

Can you guess what they are?

You are right if you thought of Hibiscus, Plumeria and Pikake, which we know in the Philippines as Gumamela, Katsutsi and Sampaguita respectively.

Take note that when I talk about each bloom, I will use the English and Pilipino name interchangeably. By the end of this article you will be familiar with both names.

Hibiscus / Gumamela

Hibuscus or Gumamela

Hibiscus is a flowering shrub with hundreds of varieties. Each variety produces a unique, bright and colorful bloom. In the Philippines we call them Gumamela.

The yellow hibiscus hibiscus brackenridgei, also known as the ma‘o hau hele, is the State Flower of Hawai‘i.

The hibiscus plant is very easy to find in Hawai‘i because it is a popular hedge in landscaping not only in resort areas but also in commercial complexes and residential neighborhoods. My memories of gumamela in the Philippines has more to do with its leaves than the blooms.

As young kids, we used to take a bunch of gumamela leaves, bunch them together and it makes a good sipa. Sipa is a native game. I won’t elaborate on that game at this time but maybe sometime in the future we can talk story about native games Filipino kids play.

Back to Gumamela bloom, what colors of hibiscus blooms are your favorites? It is actually hard to choose a favorite because I like them all, like the bright pink, deep red, coral orange, bright yellow and the white hibiscus with red pistil.

Plumerias / Kalatsutsi

Plumeria or Kalatsutsi

Plumeria is a flowering small tree plant.The plumeria blooms are very popular in Hawai‘i and is often used for lei.

Plumeria flowers are fragrant and it comes in a variety of beautiful colors and color combinations. In the Philippines we call them Kalatsutsi.

Interestingly, the Kalatsutsi is not as popular in the Philippines as it is in Hawai‘i. In fact, Kalatsutsi is often associated with funerals and memorial services because that’s what these blooms are used for.

You will often find intricate arrangements of it in memorial homes but it is rare to find it being used for lei.

Plumerias are part of many cultures around the world; some use them for weddings like here in Hawai‘i and some associate them with funerals like in the Philippines.

When I first moved to Maui in 1994, I was wary of these beautiful blooms. But now I love them!

How about you? What’s your perception of plumerias or kalatsutsi? Do you like them? What colors are your favorites? Some of my favorites are the deep red (maroon), bright pink, and the yellow with a splash of white and purple.

Pikake / Sampaguita

Pikake or Sampaguita

Pikake is a vine plant with sweetly scented tropical flowers.

These tropical flowers are pure white, dainty and the single petal variety are star shaped. The multiple petals variety looks like small roses.

We call them Sampaguita in the Philippines. Sampaguita’s distinct delicate fragrance is a special feature. It smells heavenly. It is used here in Hawai‘i for lei. However, unlike plumerias which is common, pikake lei are somewhat rare because they are more expensive.

It is often used for special occasions such as weddings and special hula performances.

Sampaguita is more abundantly used as lei in the Philippines. You will see a lot of them during graduations as well as during fiestas. During fiestas, the patron saints are adorned with sampaguita lei.

It is worth mentioning that it’s actually the sampaguita buds that are used for lei.

Sampaguita is the national flower of the Philippines. So, are you now ready for May Day celebrations on Maui? I sure am and I hope I can find enough sampaguitas to make a sampaguita lei for me.

What kind of lei are you making for you and your loved ones and friends? Oh, maybe send us a photo and it may get featured on our next issue of the Fil-Am Voice. Until then, a hui hou!

Liza Pierce of A Maui Blog is an Interactive Media Strategist in Hawai‘i. She started blogging in 2006 and she loves talking story online and spreading aloha around the world. She’s been living on Maui since 1994 and considers Maui her home. A wife, a mother, a friend…and so much more. She loves Jesus; Maui Sunsets Catcher; Crazy About Rainbow; End Alzheimer’s Advocate. Her life is full and exciting here on the island of Maui. Liza is currently the Interactive Media Strategist with Wailea Realty Corp.