For students at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, graduation season is marked by the appearance of tens and thousands of sunflowers in full bloom on the road leading to the Oblation. Outsiders stop by the campus every June (formerly March) to take photos of the huge, bright-yellow blooms. But while the school year has taken a pause and graduation rites are canceled, the state university's sunflower fields are still expected to be in full bloom from the last week of June until mid-July.
James Buño, director of the Campus Maintenance Office, confirmed in an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer that they are pushing through with planting 22,000 sunflower seeds along University Avenue today, May 4. He explained that his office started with a strict timetable early in the year, which involved cultivating the soil for the delicate flowers and procuring seeds, to make sure that the sunflowers would bloom as scheduled.
"Ever since the planting of sunflowers started, it has been a symbol of hope. For those waiting on this yearly tradition, it still symbolizes hope," Buño explained. Continuing this tradition, amid this time of uncertainty, is especially important these days, said the head of the Campus Maintenance Office (CMO).
After consultation with Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs Jose Lope, it was concluded that only a quarter of the usual 88,000 sunflower seeds are to be sowed and that they will be watered every other day (instead of every day) considering the office's skeleton force. The field will also be confined to the stretch of University Avenue closest to the Oblation, instead of the whole length of the road starting at the state university's entrance.
The University of the Philippines' (UP) sunflower tradition started in the '70s. It adapted to the academic calendar shift in 2014, when instead of having the commencement rites in sunny April—the perfect time for sunflowers to bloom amid summer season—graduations were scheduled in rainy June. Hybrid sunflower seeds, which are more expensive but more resilient to rain, were then used.
If UP’s sunflower fields can survive weather changes, academic calendar shifts, and everything in between, it can surely survive this.
This story originally appeared on Spot.ph.
* Minor edits have been made by the Candymag.com editors.