Agriculture flunker gets 2nd chance with Yamang Bukid

Published: July 20, 2019 01:25pm | Puerto Prinsesa


He dreamed of becoming a musician and Daniel John Zabala ended up trying to become an agriculturist.
A native of Palawan, the 26-year old is one of two aspiring agriculturists Yamang Bukid Healthy Products Inc. (YBHPI) is funding to take this year’s licensure examinations. The would-be examinees are in the thick of their review classes at the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB).

“While being an agriculture in itself is good, it’s still better if you pass the exams and get a license,” Zabala said during an interview at the foot of a tall monument at the UPLB grounds.
His love for farming sprouted when he was still young, although his family was not really into farming. “I just love to grow plants. I love farming,” Zabala said, adding this motivated him to take up agriculture.

After graduating from college at a university in Palawan, Zabala did not take the exam immediately. He went to Manila and worked for a call center company, doing punishing graveyard shifts that took a heavy toll on his health. He only lasted months before deciding to return to Palawan.

He got a job at the city agriculture office in Puerto Princesa, doing special projects in the barangays. While it was somehow a rewarding job, Zabala still yearned to become a licensed agriculturist and improve his career. He therefore decided to take the boards years after he had graduated. “I started my self-review routine but found it quite difficult because I’ve been out of school for a long time already,” said Zabala. Nevertheless, he still took the exams. He failed.

Zabala said he was saddened but undeterred by the results. He continued his job visiting the barangays of Puerto Princesa doing technical works, until he came to Yamang Bukid Farm, an agri-tourism destination at Barangay Bacungan that is becoming popular among locals and visitors. Zabala said he was struck by the uniqueness of the agri-tourism farm because it operates based on novel ideas, like not having an entrance fee for visitors. He also appreciated how the farm cares for its employees, particularly the farmers who were given a chance to turn a new leaf after engaging in illegal logging and other destructive forest activities as means of livelihood.

That’s why Zabala readily accepted an offer of employment extended by the farm management, leaving his government job of a year-and-half. There, Zabala immediately embraced the farm’s culture and made friends with the employees.

“I found working at YB (Yamang Bukid Farm) very fulfilling. i adjusted well with the working environment. They let you learn and improve at the same time,” Zabala said. Apart from getting a compensation well above his previous income, Zabala also got additional bonus when he the farm offered to shoulder his review and board exam expenses.

“I could not contain my happiness. God gave me the second chance to reach my dream of getting a license through Yamang Bukid’s generosity,” Zabala said, vowing to make good his second attempt.

For his second try, the aspiring agriculturist sees to it that he is well-prepared. “I have to read many modules. The board exams is for those who have so much knowledge. You can’t rely on a single module and expect to pass.” Whether he makes it this time might be not yet certain, but Zabala was sure he would stay working with Yamang Bukid Farm after the board exams.

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  • Yamang Bukid Farm’s observance of Earth Day 2019 took an inspiringly ironic turn: Former illegal loggers –over a hundred of them —led the whole day tree-planting event on April 22.

    Leading representatives of Palawan-based NGOs, local officials, including Palawan coastguards, the illegal loggers-turned-farmers vowed to take care of a thousand saplings of various species they help plant.

    Organized by the Yamang Bukid Farm, the tree-planting event in Barangay Bacungan, Puerto Princesa, began a Holy Mass attended by hundreds of participants.
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Yamang Bukid Farm to join Asean agri-biz workshop

  • PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—Yamang Bukid Farm will represent the Philippines in an international young leaders’ workshop on agriculture in Laos next month.

    Photo by JM ZAP

    Hope Alas, Yamang Bukid Farm Palawan vice president for tourism, is among the six Filipinos participating in the YSEALI Agri-Business Incubator Workshop in the southwestern Laotian province of Champasak.

    Funded by the US State Department, the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) seeks to engage with emerging young leaders in Asean who could cooperate across borders to solve common problems in agriculture, among others.

    The five-day workshop which starts March 2 will gather 50 young leaders from the 10-member Asean states and Timor-Leste focused on identifying and developing sustainable agri-business opportunities in the region.

    “The incubator-style workshop will teach participants how to apply Design Thinking, Lean Startup methodologies and disciplined entrepreneurship through rigorous evidence-based, action-oriented learning to help them recognize opportunities and learn how to build sustainable enterprises than can deliver innovative value in the agriculture sector,” the Yseali said on its website.

    This event, according to Alas will be an opportunity to showcase not only Yamang Bukid Farm, but the province of Palawan as well as the entire Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) region.

    Photo by JM ZAP

    “I’m grateful for getting in this fellowship. It will give me an opportunity and a wider audience to share about agri-tourism and how we do it here in Yamang Bukid,” said the 27-year old former instructor at Palawan State University.

    In her nearly a year with Yamang Bukid Farm, Alas said she realized that “farming is never easy and we should highly value them.”

    “I value my food more because I now realize the huge sacrifices our farmers are doing to produce the food that I eat,” she said.

    “I’m more fuelled to work harder and advocate more on helping the farmers in our country,” she added.

    Alas has been known as among the faces of the sprawling farm tourism destination in Barangay Bacungan, among Palawan’s most-visited.

    The former educator who now considers herself a farmer is Yamang Bukid Farm’s chief advocate, especially on the Farm’s efforts on sustainable agriculture and biodiversity protection and conservation.

    Photo by JM ZAP

    “Without agriculture, tourism is also nothing. One of the reasons why people visit places is about food, specialty delicacies and like that. That’s agriculture,” Alas stressed.

    “If there’s no agriculture when you visit an area, you have nothing to eat. Tourism is therefore affected. Tourism and agriculture are a team,” she added.

    The amiable farm tourism advocate is among the principal movers of various advocacy campaigns by Yamang Bukid Farm, including last year’s Subaraw Biodiversity Festival in which the Farm bagged the grand prize of the float parade.

    Alas also spearheaded the holding of various campaigns for the benefit of farmers and the environment.

    (Juan Lim)
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Yamang Bukid Farm invited to host 100 local, EU cyclists in Palawan bike for nature

  • PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—Yamang Bukid Farm, Palawan’s emerging farm tourism destination, is invited to host at least 100 local and foreign bikers for a cycling event here late this month.
    The event, which will be held in partnership with Palawan Tourism Council, the European Union and a big shopping mall chain, is in line with the city’s hosting of the 22nd Cine Europa—the longest and most comprehensive film festival in the Philippines, according to PTC president Deborah Tan.

    Bikers negotiate a climb along a steep route during a biking for the ocean event organized by Yamang Bukid Farm in Bacungan, Puerto Princesa City last June. The emerging farm tourism destination in Palawan's tourism city is once again hosting a cycling event for the environment late this month, with over 100 participants who included dignitaries from the European Union.

    “We would like to explore the opportunities of partnering with you in the hosting of Padyak Para sa Kalikasan (Bike for Nature) 4.0 on Oct. 26,” Tan said in a letter to YBFP officials.
    With the partnership, Tan said the bike for a cause will start at SM City Puerto Princesa and end at Yamang Bukid Farm—a distance of some 28.9 kilometers traversing Puerto Princesa North Road.

    After the biking event, participants will join in sunflower/tree planting with farmer-employees and will be treated to a lunch of local dishes made from naturally-grown ingredients. The bikers are also expected to have a tour around the farm.

    In exchange, Tan said audio-visual presentation about the Farm will be shown in each interval of Cine Europa films to be screened at SM City Puerto Princesa, among others. “Through these, we can build new networks and strengthen our friendship with the EU delegates, help promote our local products, and most especially promote our sustainable farm tourism in Palawan,” said Tan.

    The film festival, according to Tan, aims “to showcase the customs, traditions and rich cinematography of EU member-states” and will be opened to the public for free. The event, she said, “is expected to boost (Palawan’s) sustainable tourism, local products, Palaweno skills and hospitality, investment promotions, and rich biodiversity, as well as its environmental protection and conservation initiatives.”

    “We consider this event as an opportunity to continuously foster cultural ties with EU member-state representatives as well as to display our readiness to host prestigious events such as this, and to express our interest to partner in the future,” added Tan.
    She said the Cine Europa film extravaganza runs from Oct. 23-24, but may be extended up to the 27th.

    (JL)
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