The Zambales Flower Diary is a product of an artistic residency project at Casa San Miguel, Zambales, Philippines. It consisted of gathering expeditions from August 1995 – December 1996.
It is a manuscript of 228 botanical specimens, gathered around the Mount Pinatubo volcano after its eruption in 1992. The original pressed plant material was mounted on archival paper, and is based on an integration and immersion experience with a Philippine ‘Sambal’ shaman, with field notes on authors’ personal handwritten account of the gathering experience, medicinal and household plant uses. It also showcases a personal journey – the joys and sorrows of an artist-scientist in search for meaning.
Since December 1996, the writing and research for the book stopped due to personal reasons and it was a struggle to put closure to this project. Finally, after 22 years, the writing was finally completed. The year 2017 was a momentous occasion when the original artworks and the written manuscript finally came “home” and was turned-over to Casa San Miguel as a permanent exhibition.
To celebrate this artistic homecoming, the Zambales Flower Diary went on exhibit at the Don Salubayba Gallery for Community Artists of Casa San Miguel from July to August 2017.
Here are samples of two art plates with their descriptions:
Senna tora (L.) Roxb
After a productive morning, we made our way back to the town of San Antonio. I spotted a heron flying low over the fields. It seemed like it was looking for something. I asked Joel to hurry so we could follow the bird. After a few minutes, the bird slowed down and landed on the back of the carabao, lazing on the grass. Then the heron started making pecking motions with its beak and ate insects and lice from the carabao’s back.
As I moved closer to look, I sensed a foul and pungent smell, similar to rotting vegetation. I did not see any garbage littered around. Later-on however, I traced the smell to the woody shrub with stalks of pretty flowers standing next to me. I thought to myself, “how can something so beautiful, smell so terrible?”
This common weed has numerous healing and folk uses. The entire plant is edible and its leaves are used as a pot herb. Its seeds and leaves are a remedy for ringworm, scabies intestinal disorders, hepatitis, edema associated with liver problems, hypertension, infantile convulsion, night blindness due to fever, habitual constipation.
Vitex negundo Linn.
Leaves used in aromatic baths; also as insectifuge. Vapor bath prepared with the plant used for treatment of febrile, catarrhal, and rheumatic affections. Leaves are used as warm bath by women suffering with after-pains. It is also used as baths for new born children. Seeds are boiled in water and eaten or the water drunk to prevent the spread of toxin from bites of poisonous animals. Infusion of seeds are used for disinfecting wounds and ulcers. Pounded leaves are applied on the forehead and temples for headaches. And a leaf decoction is used for fever, headache, toothache, cough and asthma.