By Zac B. Sarian
He used to be the president of a leading Filipino seed company. But about three years ago, he gave up his top executive job to be on his own as a full-time flower farmer in his hometown, Lucban, Quezon.
The fellow is Michael Caballes, former president of Allied Botanical Corporation who put up his Bukid Amara, a flower farm in Brgy. Malupak, Lucban.
Mike has a bright business strategy. To attract people to his place, he grows gorgeous flowering annuals that are mostly in hanging baskets, although some are also grown in pots full of floriferous annuals that include petunias, trailing binca, geranium, and others. He grows two sizes of hanging plants, one with a diameter of 12 inches which he sells for P850 each, and those with 8-inch diameter which he sells for P350 per basket. His target buyers are property developers, landscapers, and garden centers which he can supply in bulk.
Another smart strategy is introducing the unusual, the varieties that are not yet found in the country. One example is the white sunflower. He also plans to introduce a magenta sunflower which will surely attract a lot of millennials and even baby boomers who would want to take selfies in the garden. Of course, Mike also plants the yellow sunflower varieties which are the favorite of millennials today.
One other novelty that Mike has introduced is Cosmos with flowers that come in various colors, including, red, pink, blue, and white. The only cosmos that is familiar to local gardeners is the one with yellow flowers.
Mike is also proud of his blue sage which looks like lavender. It makes a spectacular bedding plant that can be used in resorts, commercial buildings, property developments, and more. Another unusual introduction is the gomphrena with globose round red flowers which can also be used as bedding plant. Gomphrena is also known as the globe amaranth.
Bukid Amara is a perfect place for families where everyone can enjoy the flowers, as well as the mild climate. It is now a favorite venue for shooting pre-nups, according to Michael. The fee is about P4,500 with free merienda.
Lucban, which has a mild climate, is perfect for growing flowers as well as semi-temperate vegetables like lettuce, cabbage, cucumber, and many more. We are not sure if Mike will someday include growing salad vegetables in his greenhouses so his visitors could also partake of fresh salad and other delicacies.
This was originally published in Manila Bulletin’s Agriculture News section on May 4, 2019.