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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    But for 20-year old Madeleine Jeanne Argosino, her simple athletic dream was just to run races and nothing else.
    Her participation to this year’s Ironman 70.3 World Championships on Sept. 7 is therefore a validation that she can be capable of anything if she will just put her heart into it.

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    “What I wanted before was just to tag along with my elder brother every time he practiced. He is the first triathlete in the family,” said Madeleine, known to her circles as Madel.

    At six, Madel was already running races. Her parents and the rest of the family were supportive of her. When she won in last year’s Alveo 70.3 Ironman in Davao City, Madel was pictured being kissed in the cheek by her mother, a businesswoman.

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    “My brother influenced me to do triathlon,” she recalled. When she turned 15, Madel was already on her way to becoming a triathlete to reckon with.

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    After lording over her division in the Davao triathlon event in March of 2018, Madel made her international debut at the 70.3 Ironman Langkawi in Malaysia later that year.
    The year before that, she was second in the Durianman event also in Davao.
    “It felt very overwhelming considering that I am racing against foreign competitors, considered elite in the division,” Madel recounted.

    The young lass from Los Banos, Laguna did not disappoint as she emerged second in her division in the Langkawi event.
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    “It will be a tough test on me because the terrain is steep and mountainous. Also the climate there is colder than my previous competitions. And it’s the world championships so you expect to face the best of the best triathletes,” Madel said, adding she and her father will leave for the French Alpine city on Sept. 1 so there will be enough time for her to acclimatize.

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Palawan farmworkers to run for fellow farmers

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    The 42-hectare tourism destination in Barangay Bacungan has been known for employing former illegal loggers as farm workers, teaching them sustainable agriculture and environmental protection and conservation.
    The run will start from Bacungan proper, traversing an uphill paved road that ends at the Yamang Bukid Farm welcome marker in Purok (Community) Candes III.
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    Alas said the race which seeks to enlist at least 1,000 runners will not be exclusive only to Bacungan and Puerto Princesa City residents.
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    During a break in the council’s session Tuesday, Yamang Bukid Farm’s tourism manager teared up as she appealed help for the farmers.
    Upon hearing Alas’s impassioned talk, several spectators watching inside the legislative hall also turned emotional, with a woman weeping openly and asking the farm’s executive assistant Mauin Bumanlag how she can buy tickets.
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    Alas hoped the event will snowball into “something big” and further raise awareness into the sorry state of Philippine farmers.
    She said the event will also be participated by Yamang Bukid farmer-employees, with “farmers helping their fellow farmers.”
    “We started out as a place to help former tree poachers become farmers and environment protectors. We want to do something more than that,” she said. For registration and ticket inquiries, interested runners and partners may call mobile phone numbers 0907-237-7258 or 0967-544-3928 or email yamangbukidfarm@gmail.com
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Gifts and ray of hope after the storm

  • HUDDLED and SCARED, Richard Serdon and six other members of his household crammed inside a bathroom as ferocious winds blown by Typhoon Tisoy (international name Kamurri) bore down on their community near a creek in Legazpi City on Dec. 3.

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    A part-time sales staff of health and wellness beverage maker Yamang Bukid Healthy Products Inc. (YBHPI), Richard was at his manned Yamang Bukid store in one of Legazpi’s shopping malls when winds and rains began to pick up as the typhoon barrelled towards Bicol.

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    “All mall tenants were sent home as the weather worsened. As I neared home, the streets were already flooded and winds were getting strong,” said Richard, who stays with an aunt and other relatives in a wooden house perched on a bank of a creek.

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    As the typhoon raged, the creek began to rise and flooded their yard and bamboo and banana trees around them started toppling down.

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    Finally when the winds and rains had died down, their house was submerged in waist-deep murky floodwater and their tin roof peeled off, blown away. Richard found himself and six relatives stuck inside a bathroom soaked and shivering from cold.

    “We’re grateful no one was harmed and nothing worse happened to us,” he said.

    The young sales person was even more thankful when on Wednesday, representatives from YBHPI led by Miss Kim Malipe visited him and his family in their home strewn with downed banana trunks and broken bamboo trees.

    Ms. Malipe, YBHPI vice president for special events brought gifts and house repair kits to Richard and 13 other sales personnel and management staff members of the Philippines’ number 1 turmeric tea manufacturer who were affected when Typhoon Tisoy slammed into Bicol early this month, bringing 200-kilometer-per-hour winds and torrential rains.

    “Employees from the national office and other areas chipped in cash and relief goods to help our people, particularly our sales staff in Bicol affected by the typhoon. This is our way of showing concern to them as part of Yamang Bukid family,” said Malipe, who was accompanied by Ms. Mitch Mendoza, head of YB’s pool of accounts executives.

    Loubert Carrido, YBHPI regional manager for Bicol, said affected personnel included 13 full and part-time sales personnel and a member of the management staff in the provinces of Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Albay and Sorsogon.

    The relief assistance included a “noche buena package” of rice, canned goods, condiments, instant noodles, and packs of sugar. The beneficiaries also each got 14 sets of solar-powered flashlights as most of the region has still no electricity three weeks after the storm. Tisoy’s powerful winds downed hundreds of power lines in the region, knocking out electricity even to urban centers such as the capital Legazpi City in Albay.

    The storm also halted the affected sales personnel’s work for days.

    Based on their personal written request, the recipients were given several plies of galvanised iron (GI) sheets, 2x2x16 in-coconut lumbers, nails and plywood sheets, according to Malipe.

    In total, the assistance amounted to over P116,000, she added.

    “I’m thankful for these. We do not only have materials to repair our damaged houses but also food for Christmas,” said Hecille Manansala, a resident of Manolo village, in Naga City who is just months into her YB employment. “Thank you so much Yamang Bukid for showering love and concern to us,” she the 35-year old mother of two, wiping tears with the back of her hand as she received relief assistance on Thursday morning.

    Other recipients shared how grateful they were that their Yamang Bukid family responded quick to their plea for assistance.

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    Another relative, 19-year old Erica, is a fresh Yamang Bukid hire. She too, was affected by the typhoon.

    The Astilleros said the house repair kit assistance will come a long way in helping them recover from the devastation brought by the typhoon.

    Other recipients included Alma Paulo of Minalabac; Maryjoy Flores of Milaor, Camarines Sur; Razele Felomino of Naga City; Arjay Bermeo of Pamplona, Camarines Sur; Emelie Mae Llaneta of Polangui, Albay; Carmel Bellen of Tabaco City, Albay; Cyrus Balastas of Bulusan, Sorsogon; Arlene Dulca of Sorsogon, and Hazel Ann Aringo of Sta. Elena, Camarines Norte.

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