Part 1 of the Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa-sponsored City Tour
Sirao Garden, also known as the Little Amsterdam or the Mini Holland of Cebu, is an 8,000 sq. m. piece of uphill land privately owned by spouses Alfredo and Elena Sy-Chua. For a long time, the couple raised flame-like celosia (from the Greek word keleos meaning “burning,” it is locally known as burlas as it is suggestive of a tassel) flowers which are harvested in time for the All Souls’ Day and Sinulog Festival.
Said to last for eight to 10 weeks, these flowers come in yellow and red, colors closely associated with the colors of the Sto. Nino of Cebu. Considered to be a genus of edible and ornamental plants of the Amaranth family (Amaranthaceae), they also yield pink, purple, orange, gold or bi-color blossoms.
To ensure the safety of guests in this hilly type of land, concrete footsteps have been placed in going down the garden. Aside from celosia, the garden also has a variety of other plants, planted in variegated tiers along both sides, that accentuate the place with their vibrant colors.
They include dahlia, solemn-white chrysanthemums, Mickey Mouse (Ochna serrulata), cockscomb (Celosia cristata, actually of the same family as celosia, the brain celosia is locally called tapay as it is suggestive of a rooster’s comb), deep-hued daisies (Bellis perrenis), gerbera, the playful China aster (Callistephus), everlasting (Xerochrysum bracteatum) sunflowers (Hellianthus), yellow bell (Allamanda), baby’s breath (Gypsophila), roses, Guernsey lily and petunia.
All flowers supposedly bloom all year round but their peak period is the “ber” months of October and November when the rows are filled with vibrant shades of fuschia, yellow, red, magenta and orange.
Gaps, in between tiers, protect the plants from being stepped on and provide guests with space to do their Instagram-worthy selfies or groufies.
In some parts of the garden are benches where one can rest. Heart-shaped stand-up props, stationed in different corners of the flower farm, says “We love Sirao” while the back of the heart says “Thank you for your visit.”
Added attractions within the garden include a bicycle, a cute replica of a windmill, a fountain, big wooden shoes, a carriage, a Greek-inspired gazebo, a Belen (Nativity) set, and a“proposal corner,” (specially designed for gentlemen who plan on proposing to their girlfriends on Valentine’s Day).
Outside the farm and across the road are little makeshift stores selling fruits, food (including sweet corn), drinks and bottled water.
Sirao Garden: Sitio Tawagan, Brgy. Sirao, Busay, Cebu City 6000, Cebu. Mobile number: (0946)) 183 1320. Admission: PhP50 (adults), PhP25 (senior citizens) and free for children below 7 years old. If you’ll be having a pre-nuptial photo shoot, you’ll need to pay an additional PhP1,000 and PhP for birthdays/debuts. Open daily, 7 AM to 6 PM.
Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa: Buyong, Maribago, Lapu-Lapu City, 6015, Cebu. Tel: (032) 492-0100. Fax: (032) 492-1808. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.bluewatermaribago.com.ph. Metro Manila sales office: Rm. 704, Cityland Herrera Tower, 98 Herrera cor. Valero Sts., Salcedo Village, Makati City, Metro Manila. Tel: (02) 887-1348 and (02) 817-5751. Fax: (02) 893-5391.
How to Get There: Sirao Garden is located 17 kms. from the city proper. Starting point is from JY Square at the end of Salinas drive in Lahug, Cebu City. The habal-habal (motorcycle for hire) drivers can drive you there. Negotiate the fare (usually PhP150-160 per person, one way). Travel time is 30-45 mins. For those bringing cars, you have to pay PhP20 for parking at the limited space available.