Bonsais and viewing stones turn eyes in Southern Luzon exhibit

The bonsais will be on display at Robinson’s Galleria South until June 16.

Differently-sized bonsais and uniquely-shaped stones captured the attention of shoppers in Robinsons Mall Galleria South.

Curious mall-goers just passing by found themselves staying longer to appreciate a bonsai and viewing stone exhibit organized by the Bonsai and Suiseki Alliance of the Philippines, Inc. (BSAPI).

Bonsais are miniature trees while viewing stones, sometimes called suiseki or gongshi, are naturally occurring stones that are sold for their aesthetic properties.

The exhibit was part of a national competition organized by BSAPI on June 11, 2022. The entries for the competition will be on display in the mall until June 16, 2022.

BSAPI is a country-wide association composed of bonsai artists, enthusiasts, and viewing stone collectors. It is affiliated with 68 local clubs and serves as the uniting voice of the bonsai and viewing stone community in the country.

The group has been conducting national bonsai and viewing stone competitions every two years for the past 12 years. The last one was held in 2020 through a virtual show due to Covid-19 pandemic restraints. 

Viewing stones can be classified as suiseki, which are stones collected from rivers, or gongshi, which are stones usually collected from mountains.

The bi-annual competition returns in a physical format in Laguna, marking the first time the event will be held outside Quezon City, where it is usually held. The event was hosted by Laguna Bonsai Philippines led by their president, Emil Puerto.

There are two exhibition areas with the tropical bonsais and viewing stones displayed indoors, while bantigue (Pemphis acidula) bonsais are displayed outside as they cannot cope with cold temperatures.

The bantigue is a mangrove species that is classified by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as “endangered” according to DENR Order 2017-11. Bantigue can only be collected for scientific or propagation purposes by accredited individuals or entities.

There were 136 bonsai and 93 viewing stone entries sourced from different provinces. Awards were given to 15 bonsai artists and 15 viewing stone owners, with special awards given to the best bonsais and viewing stones that fall into certain categories. 

The categories for bonsais include windswept, weeping, slanting, informal upright, formal upright, literati, rockclasping, rockgrown, penjing, forest, cascade, fruiting, flowering, exposed roots, clump, and innovative.

For the viewing stones, categories include abstract, pattern, object, and landscape.

The winning bonsai of the entire competition was cultivated by couple Manuel and Susan Lee.

The big winners of the competition are the couple Manuel and Susan Lee who won best bantigue bonsai and best overall bonsai, as well as Mayor Mar Ruel Sumabat of Alilem, Ilocos Sur who won best tropical bonsai. Medizon Castillo won the award for the best viewing stone.

Photos by Jerome Sagcal

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