BIMP-EAGA ministers
visit Yamang Bukid Farm,
praise ‘sustainable
agri-tourism’

Published: June 28, 2019 02:11pm | Palawan


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—Information technology ministers from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines-East Asia Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) visited Palawan’s emerging agriculture tourism destination Yamang Bukid Farm on Thursday, immersing with local farmers and learning about sustainable agriculture and tourism.

Undersecretary Mano Verabathran of Malaysia’s Ministry of Communication and Multi-media led the delegation of representatives from the four-country sub-regional bloc.

The foreign guests were accompanied by their Filipino counterparts and representatives from the provincial and local governments in the hour-long tour around the six-hectare farm at Barangay Bacugan here

Upon arriving, the visitors were greeted by a flash mob performance of flag-waving farmer-employees of the farm. Hope Alas, Yamang Bukid Farm’s tourism officer and several lady-farmers led the guests to a guided tour around the farm, visiting the picture-perfect sunflower garden, nursery of herbal and ornamental plants, the farm’s bee yard, clamping tents and other parts of the sprawling upland getaway before being treated by performances of Filipino folk dances from some young farm workers and a sumptuous lunch featuring authentic Filipino dishes. “It’s a very beautiful farm, and I like the way that you all have the farming going back to the people,” Verabathran said.

The Malaysian official also praised the farm’s unique business model of giving importance to the welfare of its workers as “it’s not too profit-oriented and it’s more of people going independent of the farming”, even as he cited it as a good farming model for the sub-regional bloc.

“I’m sure that different models are applied in Malaysia but this seems to be more soft, soft model. Everybody is happy. You’ll realize everybody is happy here. We came here and there is dancing,” said Verabathran, who gamely obliged when prodded by his host to a round of Filipino courtship jig “tinkling,” much to the delight of everyone.

“So maybe we can inject happiness into the other models, within BIMP-EAGA,” he added. Souvenir bags made of indigenous materials and adorned with designs painted by the farm’s in-house artists Julio Opiala and Jjoy Umambong were given to the guests, who in turn, bought Yamang Bukid Healthy Products such as turmeric 10-in-1 tea and local delicacies like the famed suman sa bulo or sumbulo, a rice cake of varied flavors cooked in bamboo.

The foreigners were in Puerto Princesa for a four-day information communication and technology (ICT) cluster meeting among top Cabinet officials from the BIMP-EAGA member-states. Malaysia, headed by Verabathran, is the current cluster chair. Kuala Lumpur will head the bloc until 2021 and Manila will follow the next three years after that.


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    (Photos by Dianne Kathryn Datu)

    When the megastructure, named Magat Dam was completed, many of those who were uprooted went back to their former community, now a virtual waterworld and started to build new settlements there. While some resettled on the mainland, most of the original settlers set up communities along the banks of Halag River, one of the tributaries that feed the dam. “They became fishermen and owners of fish cages,” Bulahao, the head of Barangay Halag said in Tagalog. “Life here is simple but difficult.”

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    The YBHPI team composed of Ms. Malipe and a support team of two drivers, two sales staff, a quality assurance officer, documenters and Mr. R-Jay Falisong, a full-blooded Igorot Man of Philippines 2019 winner and YB social media ambassador, set out with volunteers of Christian missionary group Mensaheros for Halag late on Friday night. The two-vehicle convoy that also included doctors and dentists reached the drop-off point near Magat Dam shortly before noon on Saturday, after nearly 15 hours of land travel and crossed the river for half an hour. On the other side, as the boat’s bow touched land, a throng of men, women and children were gathered at the front of a school yard under a canopy of tarps, early meeting them.

    The two-day mission included the distribution of school supplies from YBHPI to dozens of schoolchildren from two Halag elementary schools. “I am so much grateful for these gifts to the children. Life here is not that easy so these school supplies are a big help to the children and their parents,” said teacher Josephine Gammad. At least 427 families live in over 100 households throughout the riverside village, officials said.

    On Sunday, Yamang Bukid’s partners—Mensaheros evangelists shared the Gospel as volunteer physicians and dentists extended medical and dental assistance to residents. “Thank you for you and the doctors and dentists for giving us free medical services. I had four of my decayed teeth pulled out, so I won’t be bothered with toothache anymore,” said 9-year old Helm Armielle Ataman. The Grade 5 pupil said it was the second time in two years that she had an extraction. “The first was also done during a medical outreach,” she said in Tagalog. Wens Gonzales, Mensaheros team leader, said the partnership with Yamang Bukid and some volunteer medical practitioners was meant to give a spiritual dimension to the act of kindness extended to far-flung communities like in Halag. The outreach program was expected to benefit about 300 individuals, mostly from the indigenous Ifugao community in the area.

    “This is more than helping other people. We also want to share the Gospel because this is what we do. Having something material to give them is just a bonus,” said volunteer Hope Gumabay, an accountant who spends her off-corporate time with the missionary group.
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Farmers feted in Yamang
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Yamang Bukid calls for joiners in run to save baby with liver disease

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    The family needs P2.5 million to P3 million to have Baby Ariel Jr. go under the knife. The baby’s surgery will be performed by specialists at Apolo Hospital in India, hence the family needs to raise a considerably huge amount.
    Included in the registration fees are racing kit (race bib and singlet) and certificates of finishers for each category.

    Special prizes consisting of business packages and YBHPI products will also be awarded to the first five racers of each category.
    Groups or organizations may wish to make their participation more meaningful and do a greater help for Baby Ariel Jr.’s surgery by becoming sponsors under the following categories: gold, silver and bronze, with sponsorships amounting to P10, 000, P6,000 and P3,000, respectively.

    Participants may also opt to avail of the barkada packages, consisting of 20, 15 and five-person groups, in order to avail of special discounts.
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