Like much of Central Luzon, Guagua was beset with pollution, low income and unemployment problems when its agricultural areas were showered with ash which clogged irrigation systems and changed the soil pH. This would have completely devastated Guagua 's farmers, had it not been for the municipality's program, begun in 1989, to distribute seedlings of llang-llang/Sampaguita.
The program is simple but effective. The main purpose is to distribute and plant llang-llang and Sampaguita seedlings in the municipality to augment incomes, beautify the town, and control pollution. The municipality encourages farmers and out-of-school youth to propagate the seedlings, then it buys the plantable seedlings from them and distributes them to qualified and interested constituents. Ilang-ilang is given free while sampaguita is given on a loan basis payable within 18 months at minimal interest.
Cost-benefit ratios for Guagua 's program are nothing short of staggering. The municipality says it spends Php 50,000 pesos per year on the program, but the 1,880 families who participate in the program have earned an estimated Php 48 million from the sale of the flowers. Women as well as men and youth participate actively in the propagation and sale of seedlings. One resident with 2,000 shrubs says he earns Php 1,000 a day. As one might expect, more townsfolk hope to get involved with the program soon.
Ultimately, the municipality hopes to build an oil extraction plant where the essence of the flowers may be harvested to become perfume and scents.
This program is recognized as a Trailblazing Program, a finalist for the 1994 Galing Pook Awards.