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Newest ‘Gumamela’ named after Cheche

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THE NEW hibiscus hybrid developed by the University of the Philippines Los Baños has been named after broadcast journalist Cheche Lazaro. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The University of the Philippines Los Baños has come out with its newest hibiscus (Gumamela) variety, the latest addition to its “Women in Public Service Series,” which names hibiscus hybrids after women who have dedicated their time and effort to public service.

Its latest variety, the flower Hibiscus rosa-sinensis named “Cheche Lazaro,” so-called after the veteran broadcast journalist, was released by the UPLB through its Institute of Plant Breeding on March 16.

The flower is the 44th in the program’s series that has been naming Gumamela hybrids after Filipino women achievers, among them scientists and government officials.

Described as “very floriferous and fast grower with ovate and serrated green leaves,” the flower measures 147 millimeters in diameter.

“It is strawberry red with (a) pinkish red eye, symbolizing Cheche’s (Lazaro) fearless character in exposing the sensational issues concerning the Philippine society,” the university’s statement read.

A broadcaster for over 20 years, Lazaro has been recognized for her contribution to journalism, through her investigative news magazine program “Probe,” a first in Philippine television.

“(Her) show was recognized for its pioneering work (and) stayed on air for 24 years. It is also the longest running investigative newsmagazine on local TV,” UPLB’s statement added.

In 2008, Lazaro was charged with violations of the Anti-Wiretapping Act by an official of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) over a phone interview recorded and aired, purportedly without the official’s knowledge.

The documentary, titled “Perwisyong Benipisyo,” was about the alleged failure of the GSIS to pay the benefits of public school teachers.

Lazaro posted bail after the Pasay court issued an arrest warrant in 2009 and said the charge was only meant to harass and prevent her from exposing irregularities in the GSIS.

Lazaro graduated from the University of the Philippines Diliman and earned her master’s degree in Radio and Television from the University of Michigan.

The UPLB has been developing the Gumamela hybrids since 1994.

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