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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Palawan farm tourism site prides “toilets for all gender stripes”

  • A farm tourism destination in Palawan is raising the concept of gender sensitivity a stripe higher.
    For nearly two years now, Yamang Bukid Farm in Puerto Princesa City’s Barangay Bacungan has introduced a novel way of giving people the facility where they can answer nature’s call regardless of their sexual orientation.

    Guests pose outside the marked "gender-sensitive toilets" of Yamang Bukid Farm in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. The farm tourism destination at Barangay Bacungan is a place of respect, tolerance and equality.
    (Photo by Daniel Kat)

    Manned and maintained by elderly women, Yamang Bukid Farm’s comfort room has separate spacious cubicles for girls, boys, gays and lesbians.
    The round-shaped building is made of concrete and roofed with indigenous materials. Outside it has two porcelain tubs and faucets for washing hands. Inside each cubicle has a flush toilet and bidet hose for cleaning.

    Outside, one can easily see the markings on the top of each of the four white wooden doors. Emblazoned in white against a black background each of the doors are the words GIRL, BOY, BAKLA and TOMBOY.
    One may argue that bakla and tomboy (Filipino slang for gays and lesbians, respectively) are in fact derogatory but for Bobby Arzaga, a Palawan-based vlogger and receptionist for the Farm, the terms are mainly names that describe their sexual label and nothing else.

    “I’m not offended because that’s how I want people to see me. I don’t know with other gays if they’re offended, though,” Arzaga said, adding he uses the cubicle labelled for the gays more often than that of the boys’.
    A learning site for sustainable and organic-based agriculture, the Farm which is a subsidiary of health and wellness products-maker Yamang Bukid Healthy Products Inc. (YBHPI), is advocating equality for all, embracing and respecting all guests of whatever gender stripes, according to the toilets’ designer Benjie Monegasque.

    “This is a reflection of doing business with a heart. Yamang Bukid welcomes and embraces all gender. The Yamang Bukid brand promotes equality, respect and tolerance,” Monasque said. (Juan Lim)
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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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Life-changing
tales at YB farm community

  • GMA Network host Drew Arellano recently traveled to Puerto Princesa, Palawan to visit the Yamang Bukid Farm in Barangay Bacungan for an episode of his travel show "Biyahe ni Drew."

    Aside from marveling at the property's all-natural farming methods and wide selection of produce, the TV host was given a peek at the life-changing stories of YB's farm workers.

    Yamang Bukid only used to have 20 farmers but eventually tapped around 200 former illegal loggers and helped them mend their ways by introducing them to an alternative, stable, and sustainable source of income through crop and poultry farming, as well as agro-tourism.

    One such farmer was Ronnel Espino, who told Drew how Yamang Bukid not only helped his family financially but also — and more importantly — trained him and his fellow farmers how to do agribusiness with a heart, having a reoriented mindset to protect the environment.

    But Drew's trip to the Yamang Bukid Farm would, of course, not be complete without him trying out the farm's all-natural produce — from healthy pasalubong options to meals made form ingredients freshly picked from the plantation.

    Watch Drew help himself with one of Yamang Bukid's most popular treats, "sumbulo" or suman (rice cake) sa "bulo" or kawayan (bamboo). — YB
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