*Pangangapit-Bahay: The Upshot of Plant Hunting

Gardening was a hobby that was in full swing 11 years ago.

This resulted in my growing and cultivating plants that served as our attention-grabbing backdrop to remember my high school batchmates/friends’ overnight stay in our old house on two separate occasions. 
Pre-Caleruega reunion, 12.10.2010
A welcome surprise visit, 11.24.2013
Guiltily I neglected gardening, one of my pursuits of attaining a balanced life, since I was very much into running. It remained in the shade from 2016 to 2020. Conceivably if not for our quarantine status, I might have not revived this ignored leisure activity which has come all-out once more.  
For 15 months, this pastime has introduced me to the different plant shops in the south. The farthest is in Silang, Cavite.
All these plants, succulents included, have boosted positive vibes in our house. It was the outcome which I wanted to attain. Because of this sense of achievement, I aimed to sustain this gardening craze. Conversely, I reminded myself to monitor my expenses considering that the prices of these plants have escalated due to high demand. Following I explored other garden centers which sell plants at a reasonable price. I found one at Southville Drive, Muntinlupa City but it offered limited selection. Subsequently, I continued my hunt until I saw these arranged plants in front of a house which I would pass by every time I ran along Zapote River Drive. At first glance, one would deduce that they were being sold. Yet, there was no for sale sign. To satisfy my curiosity, I trekked to that residential area in the afternoon of July 12. I rang the doorbell and a male appeared out of the steel gate. I quickly stated my business there, and VOILA! 
I came home with these new babies after making lovely coincidental discoveries about Divine Palencia-Paguio, the owner of the “garden shop.” A fellow Bicolana, it became easy to connect with her. Kaya pala nagkagaanan kaagad ng loob! (No wonder we immediately felt comfortable with each other!) Hahahaha… And it was a small world! Arvie, her eldest son who’s beside me in the preceding photos, happens to be the best friend of a former student, Joseph Fabian, who became a colleague in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), San Beda College Alabang. This first encounter instantly labeled me a future suki of Divine’s garden at home which is not the official location of their business though. 
Mind you, my meeting Divine’s family is noteworthy! Ito ang kauna-unahang pangangapit-bahay dahil sa mga halaman pagkatapos nang mahigit isang dekada sa Las Piñas! (This is the very first time that I “*crossed other people’s fence” because of plants after more than one decade in Las Piñas!)
On my second visit, I chose additional household plants. Then, it rained again. Divine, living up to her name, invited me inside their abode. I couldn’t turn down her genuine hospitality and warmth. We exchanged stories in our mother tongue while I sipped the tablea hot chocolate served by her equally gracious younger son Adrian. It was a certified novel but risky experience in this time of pandemic, yet I gambled.
That July 20 call gave me a new batch of plants which I decided not to bring home due to the weather. I told Divine, who’s three years my junior, that I’d message her if I’d be dropping by for my purchase. This third visit came on Tuesday, July 27. I was with my son Alexander. 
I stayed for just a few minutes, chatted with the vivacious Divine and her complaisant husband Rene, the man whom I first talked to on July 12. Ate Mau here was already stoked to go home, repot and display her fresh haul. *e-laughs*
Amidst the intermittent drizzles, I untiringly worked. It was my way of fending off the glumness which is caused by continual rain these past days and the dangers it posed to Manila and some areas in Luzon.
Inspecting what I have done afterwards, I am deeply grateful to Rene, Divine, and her family for these stunners which seemed to have begun an exodus from their home to ours. 

Does this mean I am awaiting more “pangangapit-bahay” with gusto despite the Delta variant threat? I do. Nonetheless, be it a pandemic or plantdemic, I know that I have to be super extra wary regardless of what I gain from it. No time to be unreasonable. 

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