Bees buzz at YB farm,
pollinators’ new home

Published: June 15, 2019 09:06am | Puerto Prinsesa


Originally meant as a turmeric plantation, the Yamang Bukid Farm in Puerto Princesa, Palawan eventually diversified into a garden of assorted crops and flowering plants —in the process attracting a healthy mix of birds, tree-dwelling animals, and critters like butterflies and bees to the 1.2-hectare property.

This sparked the idea to venture into apiculture or beekeeping.

In March a team led by Dr. Cleofas Cervancia, professor emeritus at the University of the Philippines Los Baños, visited the farm and realized that its existing bee-friendly plants could be a perfect breeding ground for 12 colonies of experimental stingless bees or kiot (Tetragonal biroi).

The scientists wanted to know if the Yamang Bukid Farm could sustain colonies of nature's greatest pollinators, the population of which were slashed by Typhoon Yolanda in 2013. The experts were not disappointed. In just two months, the bee yard was yielding positive results.

In May alone, a single bee chamber was able to produce 250 grams of honey, which according to YB agriculturist Liza Jean Yocte was a "big indicator that the environment here can sustain bees."

Dr. Cervancia gave her seal of approval: "We evaluated the performance of the previous colonies and it was good. That's why we are positive that the project will prosper."

The apian expert said with indicators all pointing to the right direction, they are now ready to expand their bee project, as more and more people — from municipal officers to young entrepreneurs — begin to take interest in bee farming. — YB

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Former illegal loggers
reconcile with nature

  • 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 rules in Subaraw Float parade

  • PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—-After nearly making it last year, Yamang Bukid Farm finally bagged the grand prize in the floral float parade of this year’s Subaraw Biodiversity Festival. The entry of the farm tourism destination in Barangay Bacungan was adjudged winner of the Grand Float parade that highlighted the anniversary honoring Puerto Princesa Underground River as a world heritage site for biodiversity.

    Designed by the Farm’s architects and artists using indigenous materials, the colorful and jaw-dropping eight-meter float virtually represented Palawan as a haven of biodiversity, according to Bro. George Maria, YBFP vice president for community relations. .

    “Yamang Bukid is proud of Palawan’s biodiversity. Our float embodies our call to all to help protect and preserve Mother Nature and its rich biodiversity,” Brother Maria said.

    Sitting on a Isuzu light truck, the four-by-eleven-meter float is adorned with replicas of Palawan’s natural landmarks as well as endemic and threatened species of plants and animals.

    “Our inspiration in making the float is the richness of Palawan,” said Benjie Monasque, YBFP resident architect who conceptualized and designed the contraption.

    Forming as centrepiece of the float was a huge tree from which all organisms emanated, from the black ants and honey bees to the balintong or Palawan pangolin (Manis culionensis) and tandikan or the Palawan peacock-pheasant (Polyplectron napoleonis).

    “We designed the tree as the very foundation of the float so once it is disturbed or destroyed the entire contraption will fall. Much like what is in real life, when our (forests are ravaged), there will be an imbalance in biodiversity,” said Monasque, adding YBFP’s scientist-consultants provided input on the float’s overall concept and design.

    Helping put color on the float are the Farm’s resident artists J-joy Umambong and brothers Julio and Adonis Opiala.
    The float also made use of ornamental plants cultivated at the Farm such as sunflowers, amaranths, among others.

    It was bedecked with species of dapo fern (Asplenium nidus), manaog ka irog (Dischidia oiantha)—a type of hanging vine—-as well as bonsai balete (Ficus variegata) and magkuno or ironwood (Xanthosthemon verdugonianus).

    Among the Palawan landmark replicas on the float are the PPUR with several monkeys and bayawak (water monitors) guarding its mouth, and Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park with butanding or whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) and sea turtles basking.

    To represent Palawan’s natural wonders as realistically as possible without violating environmental laws, Monasque said farmers who took part in building the float used painted sawdust as sands in the PPUR and Tubbataha replicas.

    “For us, winning the competition is only secondary. What is important is really about bringing the message of protecting biodiversity, that taking care of our environment is really a duty of all,” Maria, the YBFP official said.

    He said portion of the P500,000-prize will be used for medical outreach missions to indigenous people (IP) communities in Palawan during the Christmas holidays.
    Astoria Palawan resort won the second prize while BPO (business process outsourcing) firm Sitel Palawan was awarded third prize.

    Yamang Bukid Farm last year was the second prize winner, getting P300,000 cash.
    (Juan Lim)
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Bamboo bike stars as farmers, soldiers grow trees in Palawan bike for a cause

  • PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—Farmers, soldiers and members of the diplomatic corps shoulder to shoulder together planted hundreds of seedlings of an indigenous tree species at a village here on Saturday in a bid to raise awareness about the protecting the environment.

    Also joining the event for Mother Earth were over 400 bikers from all over Palawan as well as Madel Argosino, a 20-year old development communication junior from University of the Philippines in Los Banos, Laguna who recently had taken part in the 70.3 Ironman World Championships in France, and Thomas Wiersing, European Union charge d’ affaires to the Philippines.

    International triathlete and Yamang Bukid wellness ambassador Madel Argosino poses with a bamboo-made bicycle against the Yamang Bukid Farm-Palawan market in Bacungan, Puerto Princesa City, Oct. 25. The 20-year old Argosino is among the over 400 bikers who rode for the Padyak para sa Kalikasan (Bike for Nature) event by the Cine Europa, Palawan tourism council and the European Union. |Jennifer Milante

    The participants took part in the event dubbed “Padyak sa Kalikasan 2.0 (Bike for Nature)”—a nearly 30-kilometer ride from SM City Puerto Princesa to Yamang Bukid Farm, Palawan’s emerging farm tourism destinations.

    The tree-planting event was a side activity of the 22nd Cine Europa, where over a dozen great European films were being shown at SM City Puerto Princesa cinemas from Oct. 24-26.

    “We did not only plant trees but we and our partners will be growing them,” said Bro. George Maria, Yamang Bukid Farm vice president for community affairs.

    Maria, a former seminarian, said Yamang Bukid Farm—whose 240 employees are mostly former illegal loggers and slash-and-burn farmers—has tied up with schools and the barangay council of Bacungan village in taking care of and monitoring the growth of nearly 500 balayong (Palawan cherry) tree seedlings planted by the roadside at Sitio (Sub-village) Magarwak in the same village.

    (From left to right, first row) International triathlete and Yamang Bukid wellness ambassador Madel Argosino, European Union charge d' affaires Thomas Wiersing and EU information officer to the Philippines Robert Leon stride on their bikes before the start of Padyak para sa Kalikasan event by the Cine Europa, European Union and Palawan tourism council, a 29-kilometer bike event that ended at Yamang Bukid Farm that seeks to raise environmental awareness.|Dianne Datu

    Hosting the pit stop of the bike for nature, according to Maria showed Yamang Bukid Farm’s commitment to help restore and protect Mother Nature.

    “This is also one of our farmers’ humble way of repaying the environment,” Maria said. Aside from contingents from the Naval Forces Western Command (Navforwest) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, participants included cyclists from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), the Philippine National Police (PNP), Berong Nickel Corp., Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corp., Palawan Electric Cooperative (Paleco) and dozens of private companies and public entities as well as various schools in the island province. Capping the 29-kilometer biking event was international triathlete Argosino, who pedalled the full distance from the shopping mall to the Yamang Bukid Farm marker on a “bambike”, a fully-operational contraption made of bamboo.

    “It was fulfilling especially that I was riding for a cause in support of the farmers and the environment,” said Argosino, also a brand ambassador of health and wellness beverage maker Yamang Bukid Healthy Products Inc. (YBHPI). Yamang Bukid Farm is a sister company.

    She said she was ecstatic and surprised the environmentally-friendly bike was able to perform and endure the ride, particularly the steep and curve climbs approaching the Farm.

    European Union charge d' affaires Thomas Wiersing plants his first Palawan cherry (balayong) seedling in the sidelines of the Padyak para sa Kalikasan (Bike for Nature) at Barangay Bacungan, Puerto Princesa City. |Bro. George Maria

    Wiersing, the EU official, lauded the event and noted the farm tourism destination’s natural and sustainable agriculture practices as pro-environment.

    “The (EU) supports all sustainable methods of agriculture that help protect the environment,” Wiersing said.

    Maria said the event, which culminated in a festival-like atmosphere at an open clearing on the edges of the 20-hectare farm where Filipino traditional dances and games were performed and played, respectively, was “an inspiration for us in the management as well as the farmer-employees to continue our sustainable and Earth-friendly farming systems as we do business with a heart.”

    Participants and even casual farm guests partook of the six roasted pigs being prepared and shared in a long “boodle fight.”

    Maria also thanked the provincial, city and village officials as well as Palawan Tourism Council led by Deborah Tan, for choosing Yamang Bukid Farm as partner of the three-day film festival and biking for the cause events.

    (Juan Lim)
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