By: Atish Dipankar Sarker, CoE
I’m a Bangladeshi national who migrated to the Philippines in 1999 purposely to continue my college studies. Neither have I heard nor have known something about bonsai then. It was totally “Greek” or strange to me. Until about half a decade ago, I became acquainted with a family friend and neighbor of my in-laws in Aurora province who invited me to see his bonsai collections. After a short but convincing introduction of his craft and hobby, and a sweep-gazing at his “dwarfed” trees, a love and fondness of those mini trees sprang from within me. I’ve got a genuine interest to have bonsai of my own. Sensing that his “sales talk” proved to be effective, he offered one of his best trees for me to start with. The hunting of indigenous materials in the coconut plantations and forests of Aurora followed.
As a foreigner, I put up a small garden where potted native or local materials such as Balete (Ficus species), Lagundi (Vitex negundo), Sampalok (Tamarindus indica), Bayabas (Psidium guajava),Narra (Pterocarpus indicus) were grown. At times, the work seemed to be tiresome, but I found it rewarding at the end. A mere glance at the growing additional leaves, the foliage and the movement of the branches is really a delight to see!
It was in September 2006, when my family transferred to Tarlac City. We brought few samples of my bonsai trees. One day, while I was browsing the pages of a daily newspaper, I came across an article featuring a colored picture of a bonsai. I read the article and have known that the said bonsai was a multi-awarded bonsai in the Philippines. My enthusiasm to know more about bonsai planting was so intense that I made researches in the Internet. One of the articles I read entitled “Bonsai Lovers Seek Rare Trees” feature Mr. Michael Morden, the President of Pangasinan Bonsai Society. That article was an informative one. How I wish to see this Bonsai ICON from Pangasinan in person! My wish came true when I met him and talked about his blooming and flourishing craft. He gave me a valuable gift, one of his special Bantigue (Pemphis acidula) trees. I tended it with patience and forbearance because I know that given the love and proper care, my bonsai can live for years and will serve as my inspiration in considering bonsai industry as an art and fruitful hobby.
Since then, I had occasional meetings with Mr. Mike Morden, his assistants and staff. We discussed our plans anent the industry. His leadership style is strong; we really learned a lot from him.
During the clement weather days, the group went Bantigue hunting not only in the Ilocos Provinces but also as far as the Fuga Islands. For me, going to different distant places is more than a business trip – it’s the joy and thrill of adventure and my communion with Mother Nature.
As a sign of gratitude to Mr. Michael Morden, my mentor, a big brother and a friend, I have to say: All that I am and all that I will be in our Bonsai Society, I owe them from you.