Thursday, September 07, 2006


The average life span of an adult butterfly is one to two weeks. It can also be as short as two days, or as long as a year.

A butterfly comes from a chrysalis or pupa. The leaves of my rosal (gardenia) and calamansi plants can sometimes get infested by these things that resemble tiny leathery pouches.

Basically, these flying insects go through a four-stage life cycle: an adult butterfly lays an egg on a leaf on my rosal or calamansi plant; the egg then hatches and out comes a caterpillar or larva; the caterpillar then forms the chrysalis or pupa; finally, the chrysalis matures into a beautiful butterfly, flies around and drives the cat batty that’s trying to catch it.

Supposedly, butterflies can only fly if their body temperature is above 86 degrees. During cold weather, they sunbathe to warm up. As they age, the color of the wings fades and the wings become ragged like this one that landed on my wrist and then walked over to stand on top of my watch. Yes, all you have to do is stand still, hold your hand up high and wait for the butterfly to land on it.

Folklore claims that a spirit of a loved one who had passed away could sometimes incarnate as a butterfly for a brief moment of time just to be near a living friend or relative. And since this particular butterfly came and went a couple of times only to come back and stand on top of my watch, I’d like to think it was my brother who came to say hello. This Tiffany watch was his originally. When he died, my mother suggested that I keep it to wear some times.

Here’s another shot of the same butterfly that would land on my wrist, walk over to the watch, fly off, and then come back again. Sometimes he would fly off only to come back and land on my shoulder; difficult to photograph because he would get spooked whenever the camera got too close. This went on for almost ten minutes.

Based on his raggedy wing, it does appear like he had seen better days. However, the black and white butterfly at the bottom is gorgeous, but elusive. He would only land on a nearby leaf, not on my hand or wrist. But as the song goes, “butterflies are free to fly.”

I’d like to think that he may be a friend or close relative of one of my readers who wanted to say hello to him/her. Perhaps, that may be why he kept flying around and landing near me; always staying within camera range.

And that his beauty as a butterfly reflects the beauty of the love he holds for the reader.

Incidentally, these pictures weren’t taken in my backyard; rather, at the Butterfly Pavilion inside the Orchidarium here in Manila. It’s a small butterfly sanctuary sponsored by Nokia, but there are larger ones at Camp John Hay in Baguio, as well as somewhere in Tagaytay and Batangas.

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posted by Señor Enrique at 5:14 AM


Blogger ipanema said...

Wow, i love butterflies! Our Forest Reserve here has thousands of species. This area is run by the Royal National Geographic Society where scientists study unique flora and fauna here. The butterflies are simply adorable. Once my friend went there and when she reached one area, she saw one group which looks like hundreds of them. It looks almost like a butterfly garden according to her. It was magical.

Your title reminded me of the movie with the same title. It was French if I remember it right, or dubbed partially in French. Was it Dustin Hoffman? I love the movie.

September 07, 2006 6:20 AM  

Blogger Senorito<- Ako said...

Am I the only person who's scared sh*tless of butterflies ? When I was young I was told that they can blind you something about the wing particles.

I should read up and rectify my butterfly weirdness.

Btw, there is this small cafe/resto near that area. I forgot the name. They have a jazz trio (bass/piano/drums) who regularly plays there. The bass player wears a hair piece and has a percussive bass touch.

Don't order the 'bestseller' pizza !! it's a bestseller coz they say so and ppl actually order it out of trust.

September 07, 2006 7:43 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Yes, with Steve McQueen, Ipanema. I actually read the book twice before the movie came out. The harrowing penal system created a riveting backdrop for this "triumph of the human spirit" story! Great movie also.

I would love to visit your Forest Reserve. One of my dreams is to operate a butterfly farm somewhere nearby :)

September 07, 2006 8:22 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Oh no! The reason why I went to Orchidarium the other day was to inquire about its evening jazz concerts, S.A.

But I got so occupied with the butterflies I forgot to ask ... hahaha.

I will be near the area again this Saturday so I will stop by to ask about the music this time. I will remember to avoid their pizza.

Your fear of butterflies reminds me of a nephew afraid to eat siopao til now, because he was told when he was young that cat meat was in it :)

September 07, 2006 8:27 AM  

Blogger ipanema said...

wow, a butterfly farm, that's lovely.

lol S.A., pity you. I dont like furry animals. I only like birds, butterflies and fishes in the animal kingdom.

beautiful photos, Eric.

September 07, 2006 8:58 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

These are beautiful photos. I like how the brown butterfly landed on your wrist. I once tried to take pictures of birds in our backyard but they would fly away when I got near. :(

September 07, 2006 9:53 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

It would be really something, Ipanema? I've also seen exhibits of framed Brazilian butterflies once in NYC and I was simply impressed by the awesome beauty of these flying insects :)


September 07, 2006 10:09 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very beautiful photos especially the one that landed on your wrist.

Too bad butterflies have such a short life span and when you think about it; it makes you appreciate life more and that we all should learn how to live it to the fullest, every single day.

But they are really beautiful insects.


September 07, 2006 10:12 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

The birds are incredibly aloof, Niceheart. I wouldn't even think of photographing them without a telephoto lens because I'd only get frustrated :)


BTW, I know how much you miss some of our local plants so I'll post some next time.

September 07, 2006 10:12 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Exactly what I was thinking, Kyels!

So beautiful and yet so short a life time. Makes me wonder what sort of plan God has for them.

And yes, they make me more appreciative of the length of time life we have as humans.

September 07, 2006 10:15 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice photos pal.. excellent focus -very crisp and crisp indeed.

September 07, 2006 11:11 AM  

Blogger TOW Blog said...

sarap naman dumaan sa iyong blog!

i was able to see the butterfly house in baguio before we left. wonderful experience that i will not forget!

September 07, 2006 11:45 AM  

Blogger TOW Blog said...

sarap naman dumaan sa iyong blog!

i was able to see the butterfly house in baguio before we left. wonderful experience that i will not forget!

September 07, 2006 11:46 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

that black and white definitely wasn't shy if it kept hovering near you. :-)

this entry about butterflies reminds me of my former boss who loves loves loves butterflies that she even named her travel agency after one rare butterfly that can be found in palawan. last time i've heard she's writing a book about butterflies.

September 07, 2006 11:55 AM  

Blogger Rey said...

butterflies are always a treat to the eyes... seeing them fly gracefully with those colourful fragile wings is mind- soothing. Gives an aura of freshness to the area too.

Your title reminds me of the movie me and my father watched when I was a child. It has the same title which stars Steve MacQueen. Mindball action.

September 07, 2006 12:09 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I was just talking to my sister, Minotte, who goes to Baguio at least once a month. She never knew about the butterfly sanctuary at Camp John Hay; now that she does, she will make a point to visit it.

I, too, would love to go there :)


September 07, 2006 12:11 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Oh, Carla, you must let us know if ever her book gets published so we could all check it out.

They are really fascinating creatures :) And the colors .... just divine.

September 07, 2006 12:14 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I'm embarrassed to admit, BW, that to this day, I'm still shooting in auto mode :)

I really should find time to know more in-depth my camera's features.

September 07, 2006 12:16 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Interesting and accurate observation, Rey. Their grace is in fact soothing!

That is exactly where I pinched this entry's title from -- "PAPILLON." Great movie and great performances by both Hoffman and McQueen :)

September 07, 2006 12:20 PM  

Blogger ladybug said...

Wow! beautiful pictures indeed. :-) I also believe in that folklore. And if I'm not mistaken, the spirits of loved ones who passed away are represented by a brown butterfly. That is wy I feel safe whenever I see a brown butterfly at home. I can somehow feel the spirit of my father and brother watching over us. :-)

September 07, 2006 1:58 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello Eric. After reading your post today on butterfly, I got a registered mail from a long lost classmate with 3 butterflies as its postage...

Am thinking if the spirit of a relative is telling me something or that maybe we should do a walk on the post office. Walked that way last night since I was feeling the blue...

Actually butterflies always cheer me up! Thanks!

September 07, 2006 2:15 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny how this folklore about butterflies or some other flying animals being tyhe spirit of dead loved ones coming to visit over. I've learn this for the first time when my grandfather died sometime in the middle of the 80's. A grasshopper has entered the living room about a week after his death, which usually there weren't, and my aunt told me that it might the spirit of my dead grandfather that had come, using the body of the grasshopper. When my wife's father died in the later part of the 90's, a similar grasshopper (big and brown) also came into the house. And when my father died about a month ago, another grasshopper came by.

Despite this frequency of grasshopper appearance after a loved died, I still set it aside, for I never really thought that it'd be factual; often I think it was ridiculous and things like that ofetn happened as random circumstances. But they say, once is accident but thrice is something.

It is enviable that your yard is still permeated by butterflies when I haven't seen one for a very long time. Maybe I think its because we live in a very highly urbanized area, almost in the heart of the city, that butterflies and grasshoppers don't find it proper as habitat. They always love the wilds, don't they?

September 07, 2006 2:17 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

So glad to have found a kindred spirit in you, Ladybug! It was my mother who promoted that folklore within the family; she was the one who would remind us that we have three wishes whenever newly visiting a church.

Except for the guard and about three laborers working inside the Orchidarium when I was there, I was actually the only visitor there; however, playing with those butterflies made me feel safe. Enjoyed it immensely :)

Well, Beth, this beautiful black and white might be a spirit of a departed beloved saying hello to you :)

Isn't that something: your getting mail with butterfly postage stamps.

Do they have the lights on already at the post office building at nights?

I wish they prefer the wilds, Major Tom, because this past May my rosal plants didn't produce as much flowers. Guess they were upset by these things that love to feed on their leaves :)

As for the folklore, I was having so much fun with the butterflies that I forgot to accomplish my original intention -- to inquire about the live jazz performance series at the Orchidarium during some evenings. Now I have to return and fnd out :)

September 07, 2006 3:26 PM  

Blogger ipanema said...

Superstitions on butterfly as I remember.

Black - death
Brown & white - spirit
Yellow - good news

We dread to see black butterfly.

September 07, 2006 5:41 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

And these black butterflies love to feast on the leaves of my rosal and calamansi plants, Ipanema.

No wonder my harvest this year has been nil so far :(

September 07, 2006 6:07 PM  

Blogger ipanema said...

Oh, sorry to read that Eric. Try to read on how to attract bright coloured butterflies. I think you should have more flowering plants. Rosal is white and yellow variety or just white? if it's the latter, I think it's not so attractive though. :(

September 07, 2006 7:28 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Mine are of the white variety, Ipanema. I grew them mainly because of the scent which reminds me of many fond memories of childhood while vacationing in the barrio.

Among which is my cousin's sari-sari store right next to a huge brush of rosal. So, a lot of amusing events that occured in that store could be recalled by a simple sniff from a rosal flower :)

September 07, 2006 7:47 PM  

Blogger Iskoo said...

i like the series of butterfly shots. good timing and steady hand. maybe soon i will look for a batterfly farm so that i myself can take photo of butterflies.

September 07, 2006 8:51 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...


I guess the Lord has His plans for all of us. Just that we don't know what surprises He has laid down for us, His children.


September 07, 2006 10:05 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Many thanks, Iskoo! I had just gone to your site -- very original ... hehehe!

You are right, Kyels! I totally agree with you :)

September 08, 2006 8:05 AM  

Blogger Gayzha said...

I felt like being touched by an Angel!

September 08, 2006 10:07 AM  

Blogger Sidney said...

Sorry for my late visit but my internet connection is in a mess those days... :-(

Since my wife (a Filipina) told me that butterflies are sometimes the spirit of dead loved ones I have to confess that I look a bit differently at those animals.
I am not superstitious but when I see a butterfly flying into my house I can't suppress the feeling that it might actually be a loved one who comes to visit me...

September 08, 2006 10:12 AM  

Blogger -= dave =- said...

In one short clip from NatGeo, I suppose, the narrator claimed that the adult butterfly lived in the spirit of the Seventies: sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. There's sex, obviously because the adult's purpose is to mate. Nectar is the drug that provides energy for such trysts. And they rock 'n' roll in flight to burn off the excess energy. Live fast, die young.

September 08, 2006 11:11 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Oh, wow! That's wonderful, Jase!

BTW, I learned from Carlos today, while he was talking about the famous Filipino architect, Locsin, that the butterfly is a symbol of the Holy Spirit in Catholicism!

I feel the same exact way, Sidney!

Although I try not to be superstitious and tend to look at things in a matter-of-factly way, there are times that I would respect folklores, especially those learned from my mother :)

Oh, that surely rocks, Dave!!!

That is one interesting trivia!

Hmmm ... '70s -- remember IRON BUTTERFLY? I wonder if they knew about what you just told us, and thereby named their group as such?

September 08, 2006 11:28 PM  

Blogger -= dave =- said...

Actually Señor, I was born in the '80s, so I really wouldn't know about Iron Butterfly nor experience the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll of the '70s. I was merely sharing what I heard from that NatGeo clip. :-,

September 09, 2006 12:41 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Eric, I'm back. I am revisiting this post of yours because couple of friends and I were at Ilocos Sur Gov. Chavit Singson's "Baluarte" yesterday. We saw his mini-butterfly garden and I was so mesmerized I wanted to stay there all morning, be a gracious host to the butterflies that swarmed over me, a few landing on my hair, arms, shoulders... if only my friend hadn't tugged my arm to pose here and there for souvenir pics. I was a little annoyed because I wanted to take good photos of the places we visited but I couldn't because she kept on tugging me, "Ay, doon, dito - magandang mag-pose." Haay!

Anyway, I still had a wonderful time - feeling free with the butterflies. And "Baluarte", though still unfinished, (a casino construction ongoing) is quite a place - very refreshing, and I momentarily forgot 'jueteng' monies (or possibly taxpayers'money) flowing there.

Oh, by the way - read your latest posts... Congratulations for the photo awards! I'm sure there are more to come! Go, Eric, go!

January 23, 2007 9:36 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Welcome back, Rhoda!

Your friend reminds me of those I know in NYC who had taken too many American Express' 10 cities in 3 days vacation tour packages -- always frenzied ... hehehe.

Maybe this summer I'll go visit Vigan. Heard lots of good things about it :)

January 24, 2007 6:42 AM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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