“It was never my intention to frame a treatise on plants that would be worthy of publication. Mere curiosity impelled me to write what I considered interesting”
Father Francisco Manuel Maria Blanco
An expansive compilation of Philippine Botany, Flora de Filipinas, is the first locally published book of its kind. Its first edition was printed in 1837.
The Spanish Augustinian friar and botanist Father Francisco Manuel Maria Blanco arrived in the Philippines in 1805. He not only accomplished his religious duties but was also able to satisfy his botanical curiousity which eventually resulted in the first 887-page edition of “Flora de Filipinas” . This was followed by several posthumous editions with additional plants, corrections, as well as full-color botanical illustrations.
The illustrations, which are awe-inspiring in their detail and precision, especially given the time at which they were rendered, were made by a few artists commissioned by the Augustinians, though they have been previously misattributed to Fr. Blanco himself. The 245 colored plates were done by 12 Filipino and five Spanish artists, though over a hundred of the plates were done by Regino García y Basa, the chief illustrator, with some plates even made by the painter Félix Resurección Hidalgo. Father Blanco stayed in the Philippines for 40 years. He classified more than a thousand plants and provided useful information on their uses for industry and medicine. As he travelled around the country for his missionary work he collected plant specimens, which he described according to Linnaean principles.
Prints from the Flora de Filipinas book now form part of the Herald Suites Collection and can be seen in the Herald Suites Chino Roces Avenue property.••••