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[Museo] x Alagadngsining’s collection will educate you on the survival of our native plants

Beyond the Monstera deliciosa and the succulents we all know and love, I admittedly don’t know much about our local flora and fauna. As a native of an archipelago with more than 8,000 plant species—3,500 of which are endemic—it’s a fact I’m not proud of, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone on this. 

Our lack of knowledge about one of our country’s most important resources is what Alagadngsining hopes to address with [Museo] clothing.

Read more: Enumerating the life lessons we can learn from plants

The Pagtanim ng Paalala collection features six endemic plant species that are currently under threat of extinction: the Pakak, Malaputat, Malaboo, Kapa-kapa, Kamagong, and Waling-waling. These are, unfortunately, just some of the species facing extinction. As of 2018, there are 97 endangered plant species, over half of which are critically endangered. Some are even completely dependent on conservation to survive.

That’s why for Alagadngsining, this collection is more than just about shirts—it’s a way to bring the survival of our plants to the forefront of public concern through iconography. “[It] can be used to express identity by presenting our natural heritage in design,” he says.

Our lack of knowledge about one of our country’s most important resources is what Alagadngsining hopes to address with [Museo] clothing.

The Cavite-based creative and self-described “Hardiner-hoe” has long been a lover of plants. He’s grown up with them (“pinapakain pa nga ako dati ng damo noong bata pa lang ako, like, ’yung kinakain ng mga kambing”), and treats them like a friend. “Minsan nga ay kasabay ko pa uminom ng alak ’yung mga halaman ko,” he tells us, which kind of makes me want to be a plant parent myself. Or at least educate myself more and help save them.

Along with the collection, [Museo] and Alagadngsining co-produced a lookbook set in Alagadngsining’s garage featuring his very own plant children. He described the vibe as “Organic-Quirky-Palavaaan-Aesthetically-Pleasing-Asian-Hardinero Realness,” and we think it’s a pretty accurate description. 

Reaad more: Wild, Wild Life: A fashion editorial inspired by the Kingdom Plantae

Check out our conversation with Alagadngsining below on how he became a “Hardiner-hoe,” his advice to budding plant parents, and how we can help out in the conservation of our endemic species.

What made you want to create art about plants?

Talagang palaging nandiyan sila sa kahit anong ginagawa ko sa buhay. Although they belong to another habitat, I feel a connection with them that completes me. I really enjoy using plants as the recurring elements in my work because I want to leave an impact on our society and the future generationto raise awareness and bring nature closer to people, who are so disconnected from [their environment] today.

Out of all the endemic plants in the Philippines, how did you choose the ones featured in the collaboration?

ICYMI, endemic species are native species that are confined to a certain region or have a comparatively restricted distribution. They are important since when one of them becomes extinct, they affect the environment that they interact with, which usually includes 10 to 30 endemic animal species. Also, they are the most prone to extinction. That’s why endemic species should be a focus for the conservation of biological diversity. 

“I want to leave an impact on our society and the future generationto raise awareness and bring nature closer to people, who are so disconnected from [their environment] today.”

Sa mga threatened species na mayroon tayo, ilan lang ‘yung nabibigyan ng special attention because of the circumstances that relate to their survival. For the Pagtanim ng Paalala collection I did with [Museo], we featured [these] six selected threatened endemic species. I considered playing with anthropomorphism while choosing them. Pinili ko rin ‘yung madaling maalala at tatatak sa isip ng mga tao. Sinama ko rin ‘yung conservation status nila sa disenyo para ipagbigay-alam ‘yung kalagayan nila ngayon sa kalikasan.

Read more: Houseplant parents, it’s time to move out of our comfort zones

What’s your advice to budding plant parents on choosing or taking care of endemic plants?

The secret to successfully taking care of plants is… neglect. Charot!

’Di naman ako purist, nag-aalaga ’rin ako ng mga non-native species katulad ng Fiddle-leaf fig (Ficus lyrata), Dracaena anita, Monstera deliciosa, Sansevieria trifasciata at iba pa. Pero sa ngayon, it’s time to break the plant parenthood social construct. Marami ’rin tayong mga native plants na maganda at dapat nating mas kilalanin pa at bigyan ng pansin, katulad ng Bitaog (Calophylluminophyllum), a native tree that has the same tropical disposition as Rubber trees (ficus elastica). 

Sa pag-aalaga ng mga native species, lalo na sa mga puno, we need to adopt an ecological perspective kung may magiging ecological significance ba ‘to dahil lahat ng bagay ay may pagkakaugnay at maapektuhan nito lahat ng nabubuhay sa paligid nito. 

“Raising awareness and representation matters—and the saying “support local” shouldn’t only apply to local products and domestic travel, but also to [the entirety of our culture].”

It’s also vital to know their about their conservation status. Marami sa mga endemic ornamental plants ang binebenta sa mga local plant shops katulad ng Dapong repolyo (Platycerium grande) na critically endangered, at Aerides lawrenciae, na isang uri ng endangered species orchid na matatagpuan lamang sa mga espesipikong lugar sa Mindanao na ngayon ay paunti-unti nang nawawala sa kalikasan dahil sa over-collection.

How do you think young people and creatives can help in the conservation of our indigenous flora and fauna?

Believe it or not, the terrible plunder of the country’s wildlife still continues in spite of a law that is meant to protect the natural and native flora. Some of the flower species, especially the Waling-waling, have even been brought to near extinction. Acknowledging the problems faced by our endemic species is the first step towards a solution. So many of them are losing their habitat because of the ongoing growth of human populations, unsustainable consumer lifestyles, increasing production of waste and pollutants, urban development, and over-collection that constitutes a kind of “silver bullet” for our biodiversity.

Bilang mga alagad ng sining, tayo ang humuhubog sa ating lipunan at importante na gamitin natin ang ating boses upang makapag-iwan ng markang mahalaga. Malaki man o maliit ang iyong boses, gamitin mo ‘to ng may kumpiyansa dahil malayo ang mararating nito. Raising awareness and representation matters—and the saying “support local” shouldn’t only apply to local products and domestic travel, but also to [the entirety of our culture]. By featuring our threatened endemic species in design and visual art, we are giving them a voice, a platform, where they can tell a story of their role  in maintaining an ecological balance. 

Naniniwala ako na higit pa sa mga batas na ipinatupad ang ating kailangan–importante rin ang aktibong pagsuporta ng mga tao upang makilala, maprotektahan, at mapanatili ang tamang saloobin at kaalaman sa pagkolekta, pagpanatili, at pag-iingat sa mga ganitong uri ng mga halaman.

Photos from [Museo] Clothing

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Giselle Barrientos
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