Monday, August 8, 2016

Philippine Farm Tours in Tagaytay & Bulacan

One weekend last July, I participated in a conference on the potential of farm tourism in the Philippines. A tour of some popular farms in Tagaytay was included in the agenda. Our first stop was at a honeybee farm.


Before we got off the bus, we were instructed to be cooperative with the farm rules. If we are told not to touch anything or venture elsewhere, it will be for our health and well-being as some bees might sting us. And if we encountered a stingless bee, it might bite us---yes, bite us. 
 
tagaytay honey bee farm tour
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
By the way, “Anybody allergic to bees?” the guide wanted to know. No one said anything while I just mumbled under my breath, “We will soon find out…” 

tagaytay honey bee farm tour
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
This was the three-minute path that led us from the main entrance to the farm centre where the souvenir shop and museum are located. 

honeybee farm philippines
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
bee museum philippines
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
The son of the founder, who had just passed away, presented a video on the basics of honeybees and honey. With my short attention span, I quickly lost interest and wandered off outside the museum. 
  
how to raise bees philippines
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
honey bee farming manila
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
stingless bees manila
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
chicken crossing tagaytay
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
 That proverbial chicken...

I think it took about ten minutes for the video to end after which we were treated to raw honey. I did not participate as I was not really fond of honey.

philippine honey
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Afterwards, we were led to the souvenir shop.

honey philippines
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
bee propolis manila
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honeycomb philippines
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And that was the end of our tour which was a bit unsatisfactory because I expected some experiential bee farming. I was even ready to volunteer to don a beekeeper’s uniform to get close to the bees. When I expressed my disappointment to our local guide, I was told that our 1.5 hour allotted time could not accommodate anything else. But perhaps that may serve as a recommendation to the owners of the farm to offer a longer, upgraded tour for those who want a more hands-on experience.


Our next stop was exactly how I pictured a farm ready for tourism would look like---open spaces, lots of fields, vegetation, trees, some farm animals and of course, real farmers at work.

farm tour philippines
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
It was such a long walk from the entrance to the main farm area but the greenery was such a wonderful sight to a pair of eyes that was used to looking at ugly urban buildings in Metro Manila day in and day out.

farm tour tagaytay
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
farm tour tagaytay
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
farm tours tagaytay
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
farming in the philippines
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Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
visit farms philippines
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philippine farm tours
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gourmet farm manila
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gourmet farm manila
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gourtmet farms tour
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Naturally, there was a souvenir shop where I uncharacteristically bought a lot of banaba tea after being given a free refreshing cup.


Paradizoo is similar to Gourmet Farm only it’s less “landscaped” and has a theme park feel with some unfortunate garden figurines, which took away some authenticity.

paradizoo philippines
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
flower garden philippines
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Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
vegetable farm manila
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Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
wood vinegar manila
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hydroponics farming manila
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
By chance, the Bambike advocate, Bryan Benitez McClelland, was there to demonstrate his bamboo bike.
bamboo bike philippines
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
If there is a lack of further information about these farms, well, mea culpa. Although I love joining tours, I am not much to sticking around to listen as I prefer to take pictures. We had tour guides at Ilog Maria and Gourmet Farm but we were basically left on our own at Paradizoo.

If you want to follow our route, I suggest that you cover up because it’s mostly open space and wear sensible shoes. Bring water to drink and perhaps to splash on your face as well as all the walking especially under the heat of the sun can really be draining.


Weeks later, I was still starved for more farm tours that my friends and I went to Duran Farm in San Ildefonoso, Bulacan. We found this most satisfying.

farm tour bulacan
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Duran farm is open every day and we went there on a Sunday where we were met by Daisy, the owner herself who gave us a personal tour.  At first she was apologetic that since it was a Sunday, she had no staff to help us but after the tour, we definitely felt she had nothing to be sorry for as she shared with us her story of how she, an elementary graduate, started from selling fish balls to owning a farm that provided jobs and business to her local community.

Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
She got started with farming when she was invited to a training class at the Department of Agriculture and from then on, did not look back. Even her neighbors were inspired by her experience that they, too, started their own mini-farms.

farm tour bulacan
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
philippine farm tours
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Duran Farm is what an urban tourist expects from a farm tour---the experience to pick the harvest ourselves. And then of course, we paid by the pack or by weight. On weekdays, there is a restaurant at the farm that is open to cook your harvest.

To add to the owner’s hospitality, as the restaurant was closed on a Sunday and we were really hungry as we arrived around lunch time after a two-hour drive, she prepared boiled duck eggs for us. Admittedly, I was not impressed by the offer but after a bite, I had to stop myself with just two eggs for fear of my cholesterol shooting up. The eggs tasted so good and flavorful as a balut without the “icky” stuff so it’s good for foreigners to know how balut tastes like without feeling sick.

Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
bulacan farm tours
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
We had a choice of peppers, upo, calamansi, basil, squash, papaya, bananas, etc. to pick from.

Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
farm tours philippines
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
If you live in a crowded urban setting, Daisy will even show you how to do vertical farming so there is no excuse for you to not attempt a farming venture of your own in the city.

vertical farming manila
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
farm training philippines
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
And should you feel you need more training, she offers TESDA-accredited classes where you can come every day to her farm for classes….

farm stays philippines
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
 ...or stay at these quaint lodges.

Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
They even have Wi-Fi! If you are interested in agri-tourism and you are looking for a farm stay in the Philippines, Duran Farm is a great choice! 

For information on how to get to these farms, just click on the links provided below:

---THE PARANOID TRAVELER---

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