Life-changing
tales at YB farm community

Published: April 29, 2019 08:00am | Puerto Prinsesa


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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Farm destination partners with Palawan palay-producing town to help IP farmers

  • PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—A fast-emerging farm tourism destination here has partnered with the local government of Narra, Palawan to buy palay from farmers affected by plummeting prices of the staple grain.

    Palay stalks hang heavy with ripe grains on a farmland in Narra town, Palawan (Photo by Dianne Kathryn Datu)

    Bro. George Maria, Yamang Bukid Farm Palawan vice president for community affairs, said the farm would buy at least P100,000 worth of ready to mill palay at P25 per kilo, way above the prevailing buying price of the state-run National Food Authority of P19.

    Maria and other officials of Barangay Bacungan-based farm met with officials of Narra municipality and expressed their intention to procure palay from impoverished farmers there.

    Dried palay grains along a roadside dryer in Narra town, Palawan.
    (Photo by Dianne Kathryn Datu)

    “This is a great opportunity for the farmers of Narra because you will buy the palay at a higher price and give back a portion of the rice to them,” Vice Mayor Crispin Lumba Jr. told Bro. Maria at the official’s office last Oct. 29.

    Hope Alas, YBF vice president for tourism affairs, said the amount to be used was net proceeds of last month’s run for the farmers staged by the farm tourism destination.

    “This is our commitment to the farmers and to those who joined and believed in our cause,” said Maria, a former seminarian.

    Eugene Sumaydeng, municipal agriculturist, recommended YBF to consider buying from indigenous peoples (IP) communities who are cultivating organic upland palay.

    “Your help will be hugely felt in these far-flung areas,” Sumaydeng said.

    As part of their commitment, Lumba said the local government will shoulder the drying and milling of the palay and assist in the transportation of the grains from the upland down to the town proper.

    Maria, the YBF official, said they expected to help dozens of impoverished IP farmers.

    “What we’re doing is really small, but we hope this could snowball into something big and spur other businesses, well-off individuals and organizations to do the same so we can help alleviate the sorry situation of our farmers,” Maria said.

    Lumba, the vice mayor, said his town has planned to push for a similar initiative and the partnership with Yamang Bukid Farm was a start.

    “You know about government bureaucracy, we have to abide by it especially if involves people’s money, so your project is a timely and welcome development,” he said.

    Farm officials said they would give back to the farmer’s half of the milled rice and keep the other half for redistribution during its Christmas outreach missions next month, and use the collected rice bran or darak, as swine feed.

    (Juan Lim)
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Food, Pinoy fun and advocacy for farmers highlight Yamang Bukid’s 5th Agros

  • PUERTO PRINCESA CITY——Delectable food, festive mood and rich upland Filipino version of fun are in store as Yamang Bukid Farm pays tribute to the farmers and their highest sacrifices for the country in Saturday’s 5th Agros Festival.
    The second of such event this year by Palawan’s emerging farm tourism destination, Saturday’s festivities seeks to highlight the role of farmers in nation-building despite various challenges they are currently facing such as plummeting prices of palay.
    Kicking up the day-long festival is a five-kilometer run for a cause dubbed Takbo Para sa mga Magsasaka.

    Photos by JM ZAP

    The charity run that ends at the marker of Yamang Bukid Farm at Purok Candes III is expected to attract at least 1,000 runners whose registration fees will be used to buy palay at higher prices in the farms of Narra town, the province’s rice granary, where farm gate prices of the staple grain have plunged to less than P15/kilo. Farmer-employees of Yamang Bukid Farm will then go gyrating and shaking their calories away in a zumba exercise following the 4 a.m. fun run. before the festival proper goes underway by 9 a.m.

    Drumming up the festival were mall tours and appearances at the Palawan provincial capitol of the Agorot Hunks, an all-male Cordillera performing group known for their good looks.
    Back at the Farm, guests as well as local and foreign tourists will be enthralled by various dance performances of the Farm’s 200-plus workers, most of whom are former illegal loggers.

    There will also be a long table covered with banana fronds where sumptuous Pinoy dishes will be feasted on in a “boodle fight.”

    In the afternoon, it will be all fun as the Farm is flooded with colors from dozens of elaborately-dressed carabaos that, together with their owners, will do the catwalk, errr, the carabao walk for the title of the most beautiful buffalo on the planet. The fun and games continue with authentic Pinoy games such as palosebo, sack race, tug-of-war as well as endurance jousts like tuba-drinking contest.
    (JL)
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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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