Floral fancy flourishes into florist’s budding firm



STA. CRUZ, MANILA–He loves me, he loves me not.

The usual petal-picking game has been part of this young florist’s childhood. Growing along with flowers handpicked and cared for by her grandmother, Nelsa Manlangit knew how delicate and beautiful they were.

Her fascination for flowers was no coincidence. Her enthusiasm was rooted from her family by her grandmother in the 70’s, which eventually grew in her mother’s heart–and eventually hers.

Pumipitas si lola ng bulaklak sa Tupi [South Cotabato] tapos babalik siya at ilalako niya ‘yung mga bulaklak (My grandmother picks flowers in Tupi and then she will sell those),” the native from General Santos City recalled with a flicker in her eyes, staring at a set of arranged flowers.

The Dangwa Florist's owner, 18-year-ild Nelsa Manlangit (photo taken from Manlangit's Facebook account).

The Dangwa Florist’s owner, 18-year-ild Nelsa Manlangit (photo taken from Manlangit’s Facebook account).

At the age of seven, Manlangit strolls around their small pop-up flower shop in General Santos City, messing the petals and leaves scattered on the ground. Later she discovered she was already making simple flower arrangements with her soft and vulnerable hands.

Manlangit learned the nitty-gritty process of arranging flowers on her own. Never mind the cuts she would get from the sharp edges of the flower’s stem, for Nelsa has endured one of the deepest wounds that a daughter could suffer: She lost her father to brain cancer when she was only six.

From thereafter, Nelsa’s mother Arleen raised her and two other siblings through selling gulaman, turon, and other snacks outside their school premises.

During her elementary days, Nelsa always has time to spare in their flower shop. During school ceremonies or occasions which needed flowers, Nelsa always has stock.

Tough times arrived and Mrs. Manlangit’s income was not enough anymore to sustain the education of her three siblings. In 2000, Arleen and Nelsa moved to Manila to try her fortune with the help of her sister, who has been in the flower retailing business for years. Mrs. Manlangit started off as a secretary in a private firm found in Ayala Avenue, Makati City. Years after, in 2009, Arleen put up what is now one of the respected events and organizing flower shops in the country.

Situated in the heart of Manila Flower Center in Dangwa in Manila’s Sta. Cruz district, The Arleen Blossom and Balloon (or the Dangwa Florist) had molded one young florist in Nelsa. The younger Manlangit started out as a florist in bridal events.

Soon, Manlangit became an events organizer to which her floral arrangements are made a part. From there, the Dangwa Florist slowly grew to be a sought-after bridal events venture. And Nelsa has been part of the business’ growth since third year high school.

The now 18-year-old florist is armed with a desktop computer containing files filled with calendars, spreadsheets and e-mails. Nelsa admits she now spends more time in front of the screen than arranging flowers.

Every day, she spends her free time after classes at Far Eastern University overseeing things in the shop. Nelsa has never been this hands-on as an entrepreneur.

The Dangwa Florist has been the training field for Nelsa since the year 2012. Booking events, arranging flowers and organizing venues have all been part of her routine. It was not only her florist prowess that was honed but also her managerial skills.

Now, the 18-year-old second year FEU student stands as the manager of their Dangwa stall as her mother oversees a branch in bustling Davao City.

Dangwa Florist had been named multiple times as the top booker for bridal fairs, as well as organizing bridal events of celebrities such as those belonging to ABS-CBN Channel 2.

And like her love for flowers, her being entrepreneurial is Nelsa’s new-found love. “Mag-isa lang din akong natutong mag-floral arrangement. Self-learned ba, kasi mahal ko ang ginagawa ko (I learned making floral arrangements all by myself. It is because I love what I do).”

Sayang eh kung bibitiwan mo ang isang bagay na puwede mong mapalaki (It’s a pity if you let loose something that you can take pride of),” said Nelsa, who hasn’t outgrown her childhood petal-picking game with her passion for flowers growing deeper and deeper: she loves them, and she loves them not.

Nelsa the entrepreneur has a boyfriend by the way.




This edited story is part of the author’s coursework at the University of Santo Tomas journalism program.

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