Celosia in Cebu’s Little Amsterdam

August 16, 2017

There are dreams which you don’t even know existed, so there they lurk in some deep packets of consciousness – deaf from serious calls to be realized. Dreams that are so sweet yet so silent they just easily pass away as wishful thinking. And then suddenly, you will be presented with a perfect opportunity to fulfill that fantasy and voila! One item ticked off of your bucketlist.

To be surrounded by a field of flowers has been a long-time dream. As a child I’ve seen it on anime, as a teen on some romantic dramas, and as an adult on some random ig posts and destination prenuptial pictures. The best ones I’ve seen are undoubtedly from National Geographic, a revered source of the most amazing, breath-taking photographs of nature. I wanted it for so long but how? I wanted Europe, too, but then, I accepted it may not happen in the next few years. So that along with a dream to be lost in the myriad of celosia flowers, maybe in Amsterdam, was only just a dream. And then a Cebu business trip happened, then some 3 hours before dark was freed, and then Sirao Flower farm was there, with its wide terraced plains, ready for the taking.

Accessible by a 40-minute ride from Cebu City’s JY Square through a habal-habal (motorbikes), two flower farms can be reached. Situated side by side, the newer one – rumored to be imitating the original – can be passed on by first. From the outside it seemed to still be under construction at the time of this writing. Should you have to choose to visit just one, common sense would tell you to enter the original one, the flower farm who made it viral and the one which, although continuously improving, has established the necessary nooks and stills already. In my case, and after what happened to me in Thailand, I came here for Sirao flower farm and so I was firm to explore that one.

Times like these, it helps not to set expectations too high.I thought at best, there may be a small nook where it will look big and wide in pictures. But this time, I’ll give my assurance that you may expect. Go on, set it high!

Celosia flowers are Sirao Garden’s main attraction. Maria Elena Sy-Chua, the flower farm owner, is a retired flight stewardess. Her numerous travels allowed her to get seeds of this cock’s comb flower and grow it in the mountainous fields of Barangay Sirao, Cebu City.

Asked if there is a special reason on building a “Little Amsterdam” in the Philippine’s south, Sy-Chua answered that it was the people who naturally dubbed the flower farm as such upon being caught in awe of the abundance of the flame-like flower heads.

She later showed me an early photo of her in the middle of the flower field, the one which became viral and jump-started the establishment of Sirao Flower Farm as one of the must-see spots of Cebu. Yellow China Aster and violet Bukinggan are also grown here abundantly.

For a meager entrance fee and a 40-minute scenic habal-habal ride from JY Square Mall, which is an adventure in itself, one can take splendid photos enough to fill up an impressive Instagram feed.

Unsurprisingly, this became a popular spot for prenuptial pictorials and needless to say, a venue where wedding proposals are popped. The flower farm is adorned with purposeful heart-shaped standup props which serve as photo background if not pretty little nooks bearing the words, “Marry Me” or Love. Windmills, bikes, swings, white fences, facades and interior in shabby chic style make up for the whole Amsterdam feels.

If that’s not enough, the flower farm has also now opened an English tea house, named Cafe Bella, offering refreshments and snacks to tourists which came from across the country and foreign lands, all served by waitresses dressed in traditional Dutch costume. For a moment, I wanted to wear one, too, and merrily dance my way on the plains, just like in some 90’s cartoons I grew up watching. Anyway, that’s not needed anymore. One childhood fantasy already came true and I had the flowers to thank for that.

Bonus: It rained that afternoon and I am an especially happy soul when it rains! The dew drops left on the flower petals intensified their vibrancy.

On the way to Sirao Flower Farm, are roads that lead to Tops and Temple of Leah which are also famous spots in Cebu. My kind habal-habal driver, Kuya Rolando Nacional, brought me to these three spots and back to my hotel for Php600 and graciously volunteered, too, to be my photographer as I traveled solo. You may reach him through 0997-324-5974. Habal habal drivers do not pay entrance fee to enter the flower farm. The rest of the rates are as follows: Adult-Php50; Senior Citizen-Php25; Children below 7 y.o.-free; Prenuptial session – Php1,000; Debut/Birthday – Php500.

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