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Vanda - the fairy orchid

Flowers and plants often appear in fairy tales because of their magical appearance, and this is also the case with the Vanda. In the Philippines, where this orchid originates, there is a folk tale inspired by this unique flower.

We tell you the story of Waling-Waling, a girl whose beauty was as enchanting as the Vanda. Once upon a time…

There was a powerful sultan, named Solaiman, who lived on the island of Mindanao. The sultan was a cruel man who was fond of women. He therefor had a large harem to which he regularly added women. Men were afraid their wives and daughters would be taken away, so they kept them hidden, even though there was a penalty for doing so.

A poor fisherman, who lived on the outskirts of the kingdom, was also afraid of losing his daughter Waling-Waling to the sultan. His daughter’s beauty was immeasurable: she had radiant skin, long eyelashes and black, glossy hair that reached the ground. To prevent Waling-Waling from becoming part of the harem, the fisherman hid her in a tree house surrounded by fragrant flowers.

One day Solaiman went hunting with his men. Driving through the woods late at night, they came across Waling-Waling's tree house. The sultan demanded her to reveal herself and, after some hesitation, Waling-Waling appeared. The sultan asked who her father was and threatened to kill him as a punishment for hiding his daughter.

The fisherman, who was asleep at the time, was startled awake and he felt that his daughter was in trouble. He rushed to the tree house and ran into the sultan and his men there. Solaiman was angry and threatened to use his sword if he did not let his daughter come down. The fisherman beckoned to his daughter and Waling-Waling obeyed. 

As she approached, the moonlight revealed her beauty. The sultan was so impressed by her appearance that he promised to spare the fisherman's life, let his harem go and take only Waling-Waling as his wife. But then something magical happened... The sultan, his men and the fisherman suddenly could not move anymore and watched as Waling-Waling slowly but surely turned into a beautiful pink Vanda with red dots. When all the men were finally able to move again, they ran towards the flower that Waling-Waling had turned into. They were deeply saddened and Solaiman's heart was torn. He commanded his men to take every Vanda from the forest to place them on the trees outside his palace. That way, the sultan could look at the flowers every day to remind him of the love that could have been.