Just when I thought that the sampaguita tradition of San Pedro Laguna is gone, well, it appears that it’s not entirely gone. The town can still claim to be the Sampaguita capital of the country, minus the plantations that is.
I attended my first year in high school in San Pedro and I could still recall seeing the plantation below the bridge. This was just in the early 90’s. Now, all of that is gone, including the plantations in the upper barrios. Thanks to housing development and illegal squatting.
What’s left of that industry is the Sampaguita trade. Curiously, people would still assemble here to procure and vend everything related to the national flower. With almost no sampaguita to distribute, the flower and the materials sold in town would come as far as Pampanga. The fresh supply of flowers are brought in daily from other provinces like Quezon, Batangas and Cavite to be sold to its buyers.
Because of the town’s history as the heart of the sampaguita trade, the merchants and suppliers transactions in San Pedro appears almost symbolic, as if done only to show respect to tradition.
How long would this vanishing tradition carry on? I hope it last forever, like the icon of the flower the town shares its history with. It would be unimaginable to be the Sampaguita capital without the sampaguita.
Except for a few small patches of sampaguita plantations here and there, the tradition of growing sampaguita in San Pedro is nearly gone. It’s inevitable, as San Pedro’s proximity to Manila has made it the ideal choice of those people who sought to break away from the excessively crammed cities of the metro. If it’s any consolation, at least, people still come to San Pedro in the early morning to bid, sometimes rowdily like what I witnessed today, for the sweet fragrant sampaguita.
Just like the old times.