White, dainty and fragrant, the small sampaguita flower is the national flower of the Philippines. Who made this tiny flower symbolize our country? History books are one in saying that then American Governor-General Frank Murphy declared the sampaguita to be our national flower because of its “popularity, ornamental value, fragrance, and the role it plays in the legends and traditions of the Filipino people.” So how did this flower become popular? And is the sampaguita truly endemic in the Philippines?
Researching on the sampaguita’s origins, you will come upon the fact that this flower came from India. In fact, the tradition of placing a garland on the neck of a visitor who arrives is of Indian origin. So how did it come to reach our islands and flourish here? Perhaps one sultry afternoon a trading boat from India beaches on one of our islands and decides to show off their merchandise, one of which was the sampaguita – as enchanting then as it is now – and people excitedly barter their wares in exchange.
The sampaguita embraced our land, made it her own and flourished. It is a testament to how truly wonderful our land is.