But the flower's formal unveiling, according to Perla Visorro, president of the Cagayan Valley Partners in People Development (Cavapped), was only made Monday after almost six months of laboratory studies and research by local and international botanists to further determine and prove its rarity.
The flower, which takes nine to 10 months to fully bloom but starts to wilt after around seven days, was named after Filipino botanist Leonardo Co of Conservation International, who confirmed it as a new species of Rafflesia five months after the flower's discovery.
The flower, which is around 1.5 meters in diameter and only thrives in the rainforest here, was discovered some 300-700 meters above sea level within the Kinapawan forest of the Sierra Madre mountain range.
Visorro said the new species, whose features are similar to R. lobata and R. manillana, was the fourth Rafflesia species found in Luzon and eighth all over the country.
However, among the world's Rafflesia species, the Rafflesia leonardi is the only one with a diaphragm.