Republic of the Philippines - Stamps & Postal History

RP Issues of 2004




2004, July 27.  Philippine Bonsai

Litho Offset.  Amstar Company, Inc.,  Perf. 14.

Se-tenant Blocks of 8 (Horizontal & Vertical formats), Miniature Sheets of 16 (2 Blocks of 8);  Souvenir Sheets of Four





Se-tenant Blocks of 8   (18,750 Horizontal)

   6p  Bantigue (Ligon)

   6p  Bantigue  (Gopiao)

   6p  Bantigue  (Gopiao)

   6p  Chinese Elm  (Dans)

   6p  Bantigue (Dans)

   6p  Mansanita  (Gupit)

   6p  Balete  (Ortiz)

   6p  Balete  (Marquez)


Miniature Sheets of 16   (9,375)


Se-tenant Blocks of 8   (18,750 Vertical)

   6p  Balete  (Mendiola)

   6p  Mulawin Aso  (Valino)

   6p  Bantigue  (Gopiao)

   6p  Kamuning Binangonan  (Barcelona)

   6p  Kamuning Binangonan  (Reyes)

   6p  Bantolinao  (Lim)

   6p  Kamuning Binangonan  (Hahn)

   6p  Logwood  (Hahn)


Miniature Sheets of 16   (9,375)


Souvenir Sheets of Four   (12,500)

6p  Lemonsito  (Ceballos)

6p  Bougainvillea  (Ceballos)

6p  Bougainvillea  (Ceballos)

6p  Kalyos  (Bernabe)



Layout Artist:  Alfonso V. Divina

Design Coordinators:  Atty. Vic Ceballos, Miss Catherine King, Dr. Ngo Tiong Tak

Photographers:  Atty. Vic Ceballos, Emil & Erwin Buencamino


Designs:  Photos of Philippine bonsai in the collections of members of the Philippine Bonsai Society, Inc.


First Day Covers:  Manila





Bonsai is a Japanese word that literally means "a plant in a tray." While its origins trace back to China, the Japanese having improvised it, this art is no longer exclusive to the Orientals but is practiced in almost all countries using species available in their localities.

In the Philippines, it is believed that the art of bonsai started during the Spanish time as there are accounts by Father de Morga, of Balete (Ficus sp.) trees being planted in containers, although its popularity among Filipinos is only recent. To date, there are numerous Filipinos throughout the archipelago who are engaged in this art and for some have become a way of life, with most of their collection comprising of local species.

It is an amazing feat that Filipinos have caught up with this art in such a short span of time and yet have achieved a mastery of it recognized in almost all part of the globe, thereby making Philippine bonsai a source of pride and honor!

The following Philippine bonsai are featured:

Balete (Tree No. 1, first row-vertical, owner-Roger Mendiola; Tree No. 3, second row-horizontal, owner-Willy Ortiz and Tree No. 4, second row, horizontal, owner-Midas Marquez).  Called Ficus retusa or Ficus microcarpa and Chinese Banyan. A tropical evergreen with a dense canopy with small pointed leaves held on ascending branches, the tips of which have weeping habit. Commonly found in Taiwan.

Mulawin aso (Tree No. 2, first row-vertical, owner-Rene Valino).  A local species usually growing in the wild. No scientific name known yet. There are counterparts of it in other countries like Thailand and Indonesia. It has sharp and long thorns.

Bantigue (Tree No. 3, first row-vertical, owner-Bobby Gopiao; Tree No. 1, first row-horizontal, owner-Letty Ligon; Trees Nos. 2-3, first row-horizontal, both owned by Bobby Gopiao; Tree No. 1, second row-horizontal, owned by Romy Dino).  Called Pemphis acidula. Family of Lythraceae. Commonly found along tropical coastlines on sandy beaches or rocks and sometimes in mangrove swamps. Extremely hard and constantly buffeted by strong waves and gusty winds. Trunks and branches are stunted, crooked or twisted; leaves are tender velvety and succulent. Flowers are wrinkled, velvety white or pinkish white. A big favorite among Filipino bonsai artists.

Kamuning Binangonan (Tree No. 4, first row-vertical, owner-Toto Barcelona; Tree No. 1, second row-vertical, owner-Oding Reyes; Tree No. 3, second row-vertical, owner-Willi Hahn).  Called Murraya exotica. A compact rounded bush that grows up to ten (10) feet; densely covered with round green leaves; creamy small white perfumed flowers held in dense clusters at the branch tips.

Bantolinao (Tree No. 2, second row-vertical, owner-Teddy Lim). Called Maba buxifolia. Evergreen hardwood tree found along coasts, leaves oblong or elliptical and leathery. Found in Taiwan, Cambodia and the Philippines. Wood used for furniture and ornaments.

Logwood (Tree No. 4, second row-vertical, owner-Willi Hahn).  Called Haematoxylon campeachianum, belonging to the Legume Family; native to West India and Central America; grows up to nine (9) to fifteen (15) meters. This is a crooked-branched small tree with tiny branches and rough and dark leaves. Leaves have four (4) pairs of small rounded leaflets, each in the shape of a heart with the point towards the short stem. Produces small and yellow flowers with five (5) petals growing in axciliary racenes; hardwood is source of black dye called logwood.

Chinese Elm (Tree No. 4, first row-horizontal, owner-Victor Dans).  Called Ulmus parvifolla, native to East Asia; semi-evergreen; grows up to eighteen (18) meters, with spreading sinous habit; bark is mottled with dark gray reddish-brown and cream. Bark is sometimes smooth or sometimes rough with cracks and fissures that give it the character of age. Leaves are small, leathery and dark green; smooth and shiny on top with small blunt teeth. Has inconspicuously small flowers from August to September.

Mansanita (Tree No. 2, second row-horizontal, owner-Fely Gupit).  Usually found along the coast and has small fruits like small apples, thus the name. Has black trunk and sharp long thorns.

Lemonsito (upper left stamp in souvenir sheet, owner-Vic Ceballos).  Also known as Limeberry. It has small fruits looking like berries that are reddish in color and sweet in taste. Grows usually in colony. Its fruits when crushed have a liquid substance which when applied on fingernails look like nail polish.

Bougainvillea (upper right and lower left stamps on souvenir sheet, owner-Vic Ceballos).  One of the prolific flowering plants used for bonsai. Contrary to common notion, its is not a tree but a vine and woody. A favorite as a bonsai material in the tropics because it is fast growing and flowers profusely especially during summer.

Kalyos (lower right stamp in souvenir sheet, owner-Dory Bernabe).  Called Strebus asper. Tropical softwood tree found throughout the Philippines. Medium-sized with rigid dense branches and rough leaves with sharp edaes.





  • Plants

  • Bonsai


Articles by Dr. Ngo Tiong Tak

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Issues of 2004