Sampaguita or Waling-Waling? Lawmakers discuss possibility of changing national flower

  • National Museum Director Jeremy Barns expressed his reluctance to allow the changing of the national flower from Sampaguita to Waling- Waling
  • He suggested to name Waling-Waling as the second national flower instead
  • Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said the Sampaguita has ties to our colonial past since it was declared during the American regime

A National Museum official has shared his reaction on calls to replace Sampaguita as the Philippine’s national flower.

Image by Wikimedia Commons

National Museum Director Jeremy Barns expressed his reluctance to lawmakers during a Senate discussion on the possibility of Sampaguita being replaced by Waling-waling as the country’s symbolic flora. He said Sampaguita should continue to remain as the national flower “because of its ubiquity and its cultural value.”

“We are reluctant… to replace a cultural icon,” Barns told the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.

Instead of replacing Sampaguita, Barns said it would be “nice” to have a second national flower, just like Indonesia and Singapore. He was quoted on Manila Bulletin saying, “The more, the merrier…We [can] highlight orchids because they are special in the Philippine biodiversity, so maybe they do merit highlighting as a family of species within flowering plants in general.”

The Senate discussion was for House Bill No. 4952 that aims to declare “Waling-Waling as the National Orchid of the Philippines.”

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, said that the Sampaguita may have to be replaced as it has “ties” to the Philippines’ “colonial past” since it was declared as a national symbol during the American regime.

“It seems to me that Waling-waling is a heavier candidate because it is endemic and represents a lot of qualities of our people,” said Gatchalian.

Image by Wikimedia Commons

Back in 2012, a bill declaring the Waling-Waling as the national flower was filed in the House of Representatives. However, the bill was vetoed by former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, saying that changing the national flower would only cause confusion to the Filipino public.