Trekking Mt. Kitanglad, Capping the Bukidnon Farm Experience

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SAM_2292Before I wrap up our Bukidnon Farm Tour with the final activity in our Bukidnon itinerary, let me recap my first 3-day Mindanao farm experience.
After landing in Laguindinang airport of Cagayan de Oro, we went straight to t13235513_10153755580477956_7505641769590644436_o (1)he Cervantes farm and enjoyed an organic feast of homegrown harvests while learning new insights and ideas from the enthusiastic farmer Honorio Cervantes. We proceeded to Alomah farm to spend the night in a cool, rural-type accomodation amidst the fresh chilly night air . . . forget airconditioning.

Our group had a chance to view the Delmonte plantation an13268055_10153758103052956_5578190313695357916_od take some souvenir photos on our 3-hour long trip to Jaya Secret Garden. Another feast of healthy lunch awaited us there which included home-made herbal beverages and home-harvested vegetable,fish and duck dishes. After filling our tummies, our mind was filled with information and new farm method discoveries.


Rebuilding Forests at Binahon Farm

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SAM_2176With the destruction of our forests caused by excessive logging and resulting in calamities like flooding, drought, and low food supply, it’s time to find a solution fast.  Who you gonna call?

SAM_2219You can call Binahon Agro Forestry Farm or BAFF for their expertise on Forest development. BAFF owners Henry Binahon and his wife have been long in the business to know the most efficient way to rebuild a forest. A mix of studies, experience, and common sense, these couple would be our country’s version of forest whisperers.

SAM_2232After spending lunch and an afternoon at Jaya Secret Garden, the group proceeded to Binahon Farm which was a bit of an uphill climb.  Our vans could only take us to a certain point before we had to trek a kilometer to our destination.  After we settled in with our luggage at our designated rooms, we SAM_2262proceeded to the meeting room for a briefing and a taste of their specialty carrot juice and carrot bread for snack.  We were welcomed by BAFF owners Henry and Perla Binahon who shared their love story and their dedication to agriculture development. More

A Secret to an Organic Lanscaped Garden Revealed

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Moving on to the third farm, we come across a smaller but beautifully landscaped 2,100 sq. meter farm where every space is maximized. The sloping land area was transformed into a beautiful garden of organic vegetables.SAM_1963

As we entered Jaya Secret Garden, we were welcomed by the owners Junah Bayag and his family with lunch: a meal of blue rice, fish, veggies, cucumber cooler, lemongrass juice, orange with chilli refresher—freshly harvested from the garden. Blue rice was made with a  flower called blue ternate, which has anti-ageing, energy-enhancing, fertility increasing properties.

During his daughter Jaya’s tour and his lecture, Farmer Junah constantly acknowledged his family’s contribution and support in developing this visually appealing, photogenic landscaped garden. Landscaping is their main income source, followed by catering, and the sale of their organic produce such as cabbages, lettuce, herbs, chilli, fish, and duck among others. Diversified backyard gardening he explains is a key element to his thriving place. More

Welcome to the Land of Salad and Rodeo at Alomah’s Place

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Farm Tourism is on the rise. How could it not be? Who wouldn’t want to take a break from traffic, work stress, junk food, air and noise pollution and try  living in a farm? Refresh the body, mind and soul for a few days with fresh air, organic dishes, peace and quiet surroundings. Be far away from the stress of daily living and be one with nature. One such place is the cool mountain hide-away of Alomah’s Place.

SAM_1812The second organic farm we visited gave us a feel of the farm life as we spent a welcome chilly night at Alomah’s Place.
After lunch and tour at Cervantes Farm, we took 3 hour trip, give and take, to this rodeo-like farm at the end of the Delmonte plantation road. Almost the only 2 vans on the road on our way to the farm, our convoy of media bloggers crossed 3 vehicles at most as we neared our destination. It felt like an isolated road on a rainy afternoon but we took the opportunity to take a quick nap before arriSAM_1918ving to our second farm.
We were welcomed by the owners Ben John and Grace Mahistrado, who served us a healthy snack of fresh tea leaves and salad as they briefed us on the history of the place. Spearmint, stevia, and tarragon leaves steeped in hot water , no sugar or tea bags, was how we took our tea.  How fresh and natural was that. We had to forgo the tour until the next morning because of the rains. More

Hidden Cures with Wild Raspberries, Oyster Mushrooms at Bangkong Kahoy Valley

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SAM_9384SAM_9235As the Organic Agriculture Movement moves on, we find ourselves in the heart of Quezon province, between Mt. Banahaw and Mt. Cristobal. Bangkong kahoy Valley is a farm as well as a tourist destination where people can relax, take in the fresh air, read a book, take a stroll, write an article and simply be alone. The place is an ideal camp site where children can learn to preserve and respect nature. The owner, Dion Pullan, who prefers to be called the “caretaker” of the place as God is the one true land owner, made it his advocacy to educate the youth on the preservation, care and appreciation of nature.  As well as provide livelihood for the locals who need an alternative source of income instead of destroying the forest.

SAM_9417Because of the valley’s enviable cold weather, wild raspberries thrive and run wild in the land producing untapped medicinal properties still under review. It has been proven that the leaves of the wild raspberries has anti-inflammatory properties among other discoveries, while the raspberries have shown to have strong anti-oxidants in them. Oyster mushrooms are another source of healthy nutrients when grown the natural way. Recently, kale was discovered to thrive in Quezon’s encouraging weather.

SAM_9256There are still unexplored healing properties in wild plants thriving in Quezon weather so it seems but right to continue its propagation and studies. Funds are what farmer need now to continue their mission to grow healthy vegetables and fruits which may be the key to a certain health condition that don’t have known cures.

SAM_9310Who knows what other treasure of cures are hidden in these wild plants at Bangkong Kahoy Valley? Maybe a cure for lupus, psoriasis, arthritis, or other debilitating disease. Who really knows? So we must motivate and encourage our farmers and landowners to develop rich harvests the natural or organic way. It may be God’s way of sending help to eradicate debilitating diseases. It’s time to listen.


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Bacolod Farmers Help Each Other to Succeed

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If there is an industry that does not have a backstabbing strategy with its competition, it is in Agriculture where farmers even share their secrets and train fellow farmers to succeed. This has been ingrained in my mind during my three Organic Farm Tours in the various provinces I have visited. The farmers are trusting and generous with their knowledge towards other struggling farmers. They see no point in holding back as they believe the impoverished farmers and general public will benefit in the end. Why hold back indeed when there is way too much demand, more than the farmers can provide. The problems in the slow or even stagnating development in Philippine Agriculture  is focused on underutilized land, not enough machines, some lazy farmers, abusive middlemen, fund support going to personal pockets, lack of support from local government officials.

SAM_3877The Bacolod organic farmers have decided to do something about it among themselves, without waiting for the slow support from govenement . They experimented, learned from mistakes, looked for viable options, built their own machines, then trained the other farmers, loaned them machines in a pay-when-able mode. They help each other to increase their fold and make farming a good, income-generating businesss.

In my third Organic Agriculture Immersion to Bacolod, the bloggers had the good fortune of staying in May’s Organic Garden. This picturesque, fresh air, comfortable farm with accommmodation owned by Ramon and May Uy made the trip to Bacolod memorable 


as we experienced farm life with city comforts. The women shared a room with two clean bathrooms, soft beddings in cheerful colors, with color-coded towels. It was so tempting to just lie in those comfortable beds in between farm visits. Meals were tasty, healthy treats with home-grown vegetables and fruits, red rice, organic coffee, clean fish, and organic desserts. Though exhaused from our farm trips, we were still pampered with an evening of music, that is videoke with drinks and pika-pika. Needless to say, our host, May’s Organic Garden farm, made the Bacolod trip a lot of fun for all of us

SAM_3884Mr. Ramon Uy was the first to share about the Bacolod Farmers’ plight. He explained how most of these provincial farmers were by nature trusting and generous to the point of almost working for nothing. They could easily be taken advantaged of by shrewd businessmen. They sell their harvest for a song but when these produce are sold to end consumers, we spend an extra 70% profit that goes to the retailers and not the farmers.

SAM_3895Mr. Uy, being one of the Bacolod farmer leaders, is the motivational speaker for farmers to love what they do and earn a decent living for their toils. He holds regular training sessions in his home and also developed a threshing machine that would save time and money for the farmers. These machines cost a lot but he made a deal with the farmers to collect when they already start to have income. His strategy of collection from these struggling farmers is to get a percentage from “earned income rather than their available wealth”. He understands the farmers’ situation, being one himself, making it his goal to help them become self-sufficient which overrides his businessman’s instinct of acquiring profit right away. “Let’s create wealth then partition, don’t get existing wealth from the farmers.” 

SAM_3897Along with ways to make money by developing organic fertilizer, ways to price their goods, developing end user products from excess, Mr. Uy ‘s lecture gist is to “Train Farmers, support them financially, then when they are earning that is when it is time to collect debt owed”.  “Government should address livelihood instead of setting up guards, ” adds Mr. Uy regarding conservation projects.  Because, according to him,  if people are earning enough to feed their families, they don’t need to poach or steal.

For the rest of us non-farmers, we should look for and patronize organic produce to support our farmers so they farm responsibly, not using toxic fertilizers, but making the effort to grow naturally, more nutritious and disease-preventing vegetables and fruits.

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The New Eden: Organic Agriculture and A Disease-Free Nation


jrbustamante1SAM_0296Plants have the power to heal and keep us healthy, I believe.  After all, it is created by a higher power and has kept our ancestors alive when hospitals were not available. If we can only unlock the secrets that lies beneath these living forms perhaps we can eradicate the  man-made diseases that have been plaguing us in this day and age:  HIV, cancer of all kinds, leukemia, skin diseases, mental diseases, dengue, dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, to name a few.

SAM_0270During the Organic Farm Tour in Benguet Province, the three farms in focus were: Lily of the Valley, The Master’s Garden, and Garden of Life. In the first farm, the discussion focused on how to grow and maintain healthy vegetables such broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, instead a mix of natural pesticide spray and natural compost for the soil. 

SAM_0282In the Master’s Garden,  the discussion focused on the use of grass fertilizers instead of manure.  The investment of time and resources for healthier soil and produce is a lot in the beginning but the expenses reduce as the years go by. And the returns are more gratifying with healthier fruit and vegetables that’s  high in vitamins, and less sick and malnourished consumers.  According to owner, Mr. Pat Acosta, who offers seminars on how to maintain a healthy organic farm, the only reason that would keep farmers from pursuing organic farmSAM_0286s is LAZINESS.  It is much easier and faster to spray chemical pesticides on the plants once a week or month, than to laboriously apply natural pesticides at shorter intervals. The result is bigger, or rather bloated, vegetables which possess less nutrients than the ones grown the organic farming way.  The organic farm produce may be smaller but tougher, packed with more nutrients from a rich soil, and does not wilt right away.  That is one way on how you can tell if your vegetables are really organically grown: it lasts longer in the fridge. 

SAM_0273To begin organic farming, you have to prepare the soil to make it healthy and this usually takes three years to accomplish, according to Mr. Acosta.  Instead of using manure, he would opt for grass fertilizer applied routinely to enrich the soil.  It  removes any stench, and actually is more appetizing to the mind.  The effort of maintaining an organic farm is double than regular farms but when yoSAM_0278u establish a system or routine, the effort becomes a non-issue and the returns will be financially gratifying assures Mr. Acosta.  Income is continuous now in his case and more customers are coming in, more than his small farm can handle. That is why he made it his advocacy is to teach other farmers his way of farming for a small fee.

 SAM_0275One of his successful students is Mr. Felix Tan, the owner of the next farm we visited,  Garden of Life.  Mr. Tan, who is an herbal doctor,  also applies grass fertilizer for his farm which specializes in anti-cancer plants.  He is a staunch supporter of Mr. Acosta’s farming methodology as he practices Mr. Acosta’s purist way of composting.  His farm is clean and fresh-smelling without the foul-odor caused by decays in the composting area.


SAM_0247The belief that plants may be the cure to cancer or other fatal diseases is not as quixotic as some people may think.  Most medicines do come from plants, but what mix of plants will produce what effect is still the question.  When hope is gone from the medical side, patients look into the power of herbs.  The result of consuming more vegetables to clean and maintain our system is the healthy trend these days. So let’s do our own planting, and what we can’t plant we buSAM_0280y from organic farms, certified organic farms.  Help support Organic Agriculture, it’s the only way to go.  Even if it may not be totally sustainable at this point as there may not be enough supply for the huge demands, let us slowly transition to a healthier way of living by patronizing our organic farmers little by little so they may increase in numbers.

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