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A blooming disposition


Neal P. Corpus

Posted on May 22, 2021

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Discover the romantic, unorthodox floral arrangements of Akong Gugma.

There’s always been something very poetic about floral arrangements. Even by looking at one at face value, you almost always see the artistry behind each placement: stems dancing together in a vase, crowns of petals bowing in different directions.

These subtleties take the fore in the arrangements of Akong Gugma. Created by Darryl Reciña and Geof Gonzales, Akong Gugma began as an extension of their pre-nuptial and event styling company RabbitHole Creatives. “There has always been a nagging feeling that flowers can be explored further,” says Darryl.

Akong Gugma is an extension of RabbitHole Creatives, a pre-nuptial and event styling company. Photo courtesy of Akong Gugma

It became a natural progression: in their set designs and styling, Darryl and Geof explore atmospheres and moods — from the romantic to the fantastical — through clothes and props, but here, they utilize flowers as a way to “more modest and honest creation.”

“Akong Gugma is our way of evolving our visual language,” they say. The exercise has led them to exploring new materials and sensibilities.

Here, we chat with the duo on what moves their creative process, where their name comes from, and their favorite flower.

PASYAL: Tell us about your creative process. What informs the arrangements you create?

AKONG GUGMA: The market actually dictates what our arrangements will be. We avoid ordering imported florals that entail an undeniable carbon footprint, so we make do with what is available. I guess what really stands out is the curation of the material used; it can be as cheap as local shrubs, but with conscious composition, we can explore possibilities.

To avoid creating a larger, unnecessary carbon footprint, Akong Gugma refrains from using imported florals. Photo courtesy of Akong Gugma

Is the name derived from the Ruben Tagalog song? What drew you to it?

Totally! Folkloric Filipino songs are far out. They belong to a certain time — that’s what attracted us to name this journey as such. It adds depth to how we feel, tapping into our collective memory of Ruben Tagalog’s lamenting vocals.

Akong Gugma's name comes from the Ruben Tagalog song.

Your arrangements are regularly stocked by Guava Sketches in Greenbelt 5. How did your relationship with them begin?

Guava Sketches are real angels. We were introduced to Joan, one of the owners, by [the stylist] Melvin Mojica. Melvin is one of those cool cats that bring together people of the same flow. [It was] really serendipitous what transpired.

Do you ever create the same arrangement twice?

With how erratic the market is, it is somehow impossible to recreate. And with composing arrangements, energy is crucial; you cannot just replicate energy. It sounds bullshitty but composing flowers is transcendental. The goal is to communicate the intangible, resulting in something that you feel rather than mindlessly consume.

Slambook question: What is your favorite flower and why?

Poppies. Aside from it being traditionally used to make opium, we haven’t had the pleasure of using it as it is impossible to source locally.

Lastly, what do you find most satisfying about creating these arrangements?

That we get to share our ideas however absurd they are. The more it doesn’t make sense, the more our audience likes it. They want to be offended and challenged.

You can reach Akong Gugma via Instagram or +63 917 512 2072. They are also available at Guava Sketches in Greenbelt 5.

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