In visiting Japan, one of the top items on a tourist's bucket list is to witness cherry blossoms or sakura.
The pink flowers, which are in full bloom from mid-March to late April and even early May, are a sight for sore eyes that will definitely leave the beholder tickled pink.
While Japan has already opened to independent travelers in October 2022, not many Pinoys have actually made their yearned-for comeback to the beloved country.
If you miss traveling to Japan and seeing its dainty cherry blossom trees in full bloom, you won't need to go farther than the Philippines to enjoy the romantic vibe that these flowers bring.
There are also tourist attractions in the Philippines that have flowering trees resembling the iconic petals. Pinky promise!
There are actual cherry blossoms in Benguet, particularly in Atok, as it's one of the coldest places in the country. Cherry blossoms usually thrive in cold climates.
Atok has around 30 cherry blossom trees planted at its Sakura Park in 2015, donated by the Kochi Prefecture of Japan in celebration of its 40 years of sisterhood ties with Benguet province that year.
Puerto Princesa, Palawan
Palawan is not only known for its white-sand beaches and crystalline emerald waters, but also for its Palawan cherry or balayong.
Balayong, a medium-sized tree that's endemic to the island, produces white and light pink flowers that bloom every March to April. Locals consider them as a symbol of female beauty.
In 2017, Palawan's capital city Puerto Princesa built Balayong Park, a P250 million seven-hectare attraction that has over 1,200 balayong trees. It was inaugurated in July 2021 but opened in December due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Puerto Princesa also hosts the Balayong Festival, which takes place in the last days of February and culminates on March 4.
Cavite also has its "cherry blossoms" in what appears to be trumpet trees planted at the De La Salle University Medical Center in Dasmariñas.
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The sakura-looking trees have flowers that resemble the shape of a trumpet and are in clusters.
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Rizal's Masungi Georeserve in Baras is home to Salinggogon trees whose pinkish flowers are iconic in their own right.
Salinggogon flowers last for two to three weeks during the dry season or "summer," blooming before new leaves start to regrow.
Masungi Georeserve has called on the public to protect Salinggogon trees, as they're at risk due to illegal logging.
In Antipolo, meanwhile, the Assumption Antipolo all-girls Catholic school has Maquilishuat or rosy trumpet trees that may pass for the Japanese flower.
Hinigaran, Negros Occidental
Negros Occidental also has rosy trumpet trees in Hinigaran, which stand out against the earthy and verdant tones.
A family from Dumanjug in Cebu has a cherry blossom tree planted in their backyard.
In an interview with PhilSTAR L!fe in 2020, Cecille Lozada said her parents took home cherry blossom seeds from Hawaii in 2004. While only one tree survived, given the Philippines's temperate climate, the Lozadas are still on cloud nine to get hold of the remarkable tree.
Some locals and even tourists tend to pass by the Lozada residence to catch a glimpse of their cherry blossom, like Cebu-based photographer Manuel Busano and his wife, Mindy.
Editor's note: This story was updated to state the reopening of Japan to independent travelers in October 2022.