Farmers feted in Yamang
Bukid Farm’s ’Agros

Published: February 16, 2019 02:15pm | Palawan

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—A farming community at Barangay Bacungan here was transformed into a festive place awash with Filipino games, bountiful harvest and sumptuous food during the fourth Agros Festival last Feb. 16.

The festival, which roughly translates as community of farmers, was organized by Yamang Bukid Farm here to honor all its farm employees—90 percent of whom farmers who are former illegal loggers.

“We want to recognise our farmers for their contribution to society. Without them, we could not eat to survive,” said farm operator Rene Maduro.

The day-long event was highlighted by the visit as guest speaker of Undersecretary Evangeline Lavina of the Department of Agriculture, who was all praises with the farm’s socially-conscious brand of agriculture.

Capping the day were various contests involving Filipino games such as the sack race and palosebo—wherein contestants race to climb a slippery bamboo pole smeared with grease to reach a prize.

Local and foreign visitors were also entertained by a “fashion show” of well-dressed and painted carabaos. It was a fun day for the farmers and everyone else.

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Yamang Bukid Farm to present farming model to global audience

  • Yamang Bukid Farm is among the presenters in the 2019 International Conference on Biosphere and Sustainability, a gathering of scientists, educators, government policymakers and other stakeholders all over the world aimed at exchanging researches and underscoring policy implications of scientific findings on the attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

    To be held at City Asturias Hotel in Puerto Princesa City from July 24-26, the farm destination of Barangay Bacungan will be represented by Bro. George Maria, a seminarian and farm consultant, who will talk about how the farm, a former barren and unproductive highland, was transformed into an emerging tourism draw and model for integrative and diversified farming.

    Yamang Bukid Farm's biodiversity is evident with these pictures of bees sipping nectar on the Farm's various flowers (Photos by JM Zap)

    “Yamang Bukid Farm is a place of a happy farming community where genuine happiness is not for sale. It is an agroforestry or integrated production system that is based on organic farming approach,” Bro George said, adding YBF has become one of the fastest-growing farm tourism destination in Puerto Princess and in Palawan.

    A farmer works on one of Yamang Bukid Farm's contoured plots. Palawan's emerging farm tourism destination is aiming to become a model of sustainable agriculture. (Photo by JM Zap)

    Dr. Rodolfo “Jun” Abalus Jr., a tree scientist who is also a Yamang Bukid Farm consultant, will also do a presentation on biomass and carbon stocks found in a sub watershed at Mt. Makiling of Southern Luzon. The conference, which will also feature researches, studies and learnings conducted in biosphere reserves is organized by Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) and Palawan Knowledge Platform for Biodiversity and Sustainable Development and co-organized by international partners from South Korea, University of Montreal in Canada, University of Kansas (USA) and with participation from Nagoya University, City University of Hong Kong and UNESCO Regional Science Bureau for Asia and the Pacific in Jakarta, Indonesia.

    Yamang Bukid Farm's famed sunflower garden (Photo by JM Zap)

    The conference will also highlight the learning laboratories for sustainable development under Unesco’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme.
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Yamang Bukid Farm's pro-biodiversity business model lauded at int'l confab

  • PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—Local and international panelists commended Yamang Bukid Farm for its efforts to help preserve biodiversity and provide former destroyers of the environment an alternative livelihood in its sprawling farm tourism development in Puerto Princesa City.

    The commendation came following Thursday’s presentation by Yamang Bukid Farm’s Bro. George Maria of the farm’s unique business model during the second day of the International Conference on the Biosphere and Sustainability at a posh hotel here. Maria, a seminarian now on his immersion, said the farm has evolved into a haven for biodiversity and as a tourism draw from being just a simple getaway for officials of wellness products maker Yamang Bukid Healthy Products Inc.

    "Yamang Bukid was created because of a demand—a demand coming from our hearts to do business with a heart by living a life for others,” Maria told the panelists and dozens of local and foreign scientists, academicians and business leaders. “From a simple dream, something very beautiful happened. We believed our biggest contribution to biodiversity is by taking care of the most important component or the prime mover in biodiversity which is the people,” he added.
    He said the “best thing I can share today for biodiversity is the stories of our farmers,” whom he called “the most beautiful people I have ever met.” Maria said that business model of “doing business with a heart” helped the farm effect behavioural change towards environment conservation in a community that used to rely on illegal logging and other destructive forest activities for livelihood.

    “The former illegal loggers are now very proud to say they have become farmers. They stopped cutting trees and are now planting food food for our tables. They led environmental protection campaigns,” he said.

    Maria also highlighted the farm’s efforts of protecting and conserving endemic and exotic flora and fauna that have thrived within the 42-hectare farm tourism estate by tapping experts from various universities as consultants and training technical people for biodiversity conservation. He hoped the Yamang Bukid Farm experience would help policymakers in crafting measures on agriculture, food security and biodiversity. “If a small company like Yamang Bukid can do little change for the environment, what more can we accomplish if we all work together? This is mostly the realisation of tourists visiting the farm, ‘If a former illegal logger is now taking care of biodiversity, how about me?’, he said.
    Also presenting during the conference was Dr. Rodolfo “Jun” Abalus Jr., a forest scientist and professor of Palawan State University.

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Muslim lass is ‘child’ to Christian co-workers at Yamang Bukid

  • To the farmers and adult co-workers, she is their anak (child). To her younger co-workers, Radzma is a reliable and friendly fellow.

    Also known as Radz to friends and colleagues, Radzma Sabturani is a Muslim girl working in a predominantly Christian company, Yamang Bukid Healthy Products Inc. (YBHPI).

    Despite the difference, it did not hinder her to work with co-employees and interact with people having a different faith from hers. “I was overwhelmed. They treated me fairly even if they are Christians,” Radzma recalled.

    The 21-year old lass from the Pangutaran tribe is among the handful of Muslim employees of YBHPI and its subsidiary, Yamang Bukid Farm-Palawan, joining the over 1 billion Muslims around the world celebrating Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice). Radome, who has a degree in hospitality management, said her fears of being discriminated against for being of different faith evaporated when she was warmly accepted by fellow employees, almost all of whom Christians.

    “I was overwhelmed; everyone treated me as an equal. I quickly became friends with them,” she said.

    The young Muslim girl was also happy her parents did not object to her working in a “Christian company.”

    A former scholar of Yamang Bukid and assigned as accounting staff at the Yamang Bukid Farm in Palawan, Radzma is currently doing administrative duties at the YBHPI national office in Quezon City.

    “Our relationship among employees and the management is tight. Here, we are not just employees. We are a family,” she said.

    The company has been known to foster religious and cultural diversity, supporting and embracing employees from various cultures and with different religious beliefs.
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