Thursday, June 12, 2014

RAFFLESIA: A Gigantic Pride Blooming in Bukidnon

Rafflesia (Rafflesiaceae) is a parasitic plant that periodically blooms in some parts of Southeast Asia. In the Philippines, there are recorded sightings of this organism in the mountainous areas of Laguna, Compostela Valley and Bukidnon. Rafflesia blooms 3 to 5 days and gets decomposed. The flower is also called "flesh flower" and "corpse flower" since it smells like a rotting flesh. In Lantapan, Bukidnon, it is commonly called "busaw", a native word for monster or aswang.

Last 2013, I happened to visit the hinterland and forested barangay of Kaatuan in Lantapan. I was with Ben, Bon and Estan. We accompanied Ben in a protected area of Mt. Kitanglad Range to install tarpaulin boards informing the public about rafflesia. We saw some buds of the flower which were about to bloom in a month or weeks. But after that, I never had an update about them.

In the last week of May 2014, I saw a post by Ben with the giant flower in full bloom. I also heard the same blooming period in Maragusan, Compostela Valley. Ben also showed some buds which will surely bloom in a short time.

One fine holiday, I was thinking where to spend my free time. I remembered the gigantic flower and didn't think twice to visit the area. So I contacted a friend to take me to the area and off we went.

It was about 10:00 am when we arrived in Lantapan. I wasn't sure if there was a blooming flower that time. I just took chances. I contacted some officials and looked for a guide. I approached a local in his house and asked about the flower. He called his little son and asked if the flower is in bloom. The little boy told me that he guided rafflesia watchers the day before so my heart was leaping in victory.

The little Coby accompanied me to the area. We hiked around 600 meters from his house. Midway, another lad, Jimboy, was running his way to us. We passed through the fields until we reached the forested area and the entrance to the rafflesia garden. 

When we entered trough the bamboo gate, the little lad showed me the gigantic flower in full bloom. In awe, I couldn't stop pressing my shutter.

I requested Jimboy to take me photos with the wonderful creature. The area is a sharp slope and is really slippery. I hardly found my way to get close to the flower. I embraced the mud and the rotting leaves. The kids even challenged me to sniff on the flower, which smells like a dead rat, for their laughter. The foul smell is evidenced by the presence of blue flies.


I also pictured my young guides who made my day.

Enjoying the glorious sight, the hands of the clock sped up really fast. Before we left, I captured the flower in its minute details and marveled how it is designed so intricately. 

Two black cabbage-like forms are budding in the area. In weeks, these two will also unleash thier full glory. 

After spending an hour, we left the place and trekked back to the barangay. 


When visiting Kaatuan, take time to side visit the following:

1. Cinchona Forest Reserve 

2. Century-old Chapel

3. Ruined Japanese Houses

4. White House Camp Site

5. The 5-series Waterfalls    


For motorists: 
From Malaybalay, drive to Alanib, Lantapan (past the Poblacion) and take the rough road to Barangay Kaatuan.

For commuters:
From Malaybalay, take a jeep bound to Lantapan. Hire a habal-habal direct to Barangay Kaatuan. 



  1. Huwaw! in kota kinabalu, tours to see this flower would cost much! We didn't take the tour, op kors. Dire lang sa mindanao damo na eh. Good docu, dude.

    1. salamat, lui. damo gid dri sa mindanao, unexplored lang.

  2. Hello, do you what months do they usually bloom? Or tibuok tuig naay magbloom?

    1. Hi, Ellen. They usually bloom every May to July just like in other areas of the country...

  3. Hi trekero, i will visit davao city this june.
    Pls advise when can i see this rafflesia? Sino pwede ko contakin dun before i can arrange my travel to that place. Pls pls help. Thanks in advance. My email add is

    1. hi, neil. thanks for reading. due to long drought, blooming of these species is really affected. since rafflesia is a fungus, it starts budding when the soil gets fully moist. rainy season has just started in the area, 2 weeks rainfall just starts to wet the spores.
      sorry, i have no contact in the area. when going there, one should just inform any brgy. official and hire a local guide to take you to the site, which is only 600 meters away from residences.
      by the way, other rafflesia sites in the country include los baños and compostela valley.

    2. Neil, good day. Got an update as of may 30, 2016. There is a bloom in the area. There are also buds. Hopefully, when you are here, you may have chance to see one. I will try to visit the place prior to your coming.