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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After farm destination buys palay in high prices, grateful Palawan farmers give away free rice

  • PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—Paying it forward.

    Farmers in a rice-producing village in Narra, Palawan have expressed gratitude to a farm tourism destination here for fulfilling their vow to buy palay from them at higher gate price by giving away rice to neighbors.

    Photo by JM ZAP

    At least 21 farmers from the village of Burirao benefitted the palay buyout scheme by Yamang Bukid Farm which highlighted its campaign to help impoverished farmers in Palawan, which palay bought at double the current buying prices, according to Bro. George Maria, Yamang Bukid Farm Palawan (YBFP) vice president for community relations.

    Photo by JM ZAP

    “We were able to gather some 21 farmers and each of them brought with them five sacks of palay,” said Brother Maria, adding they coordinated with the local government of Narra and the Department of Agriculture in identifying small-time farmers who may want to sell their harvest.

    The buyout scheme, Maria said, was the culmination of the farm attraction’s advocacy to help palay farmers adversely affected following the steep lowering of palay prices since late this year. Last month, YBFP kickstarted its campaign by launching a fun run with the aim of generating awareness and support towards the plight of palay farmers across the country.

    That campaign dubbed “Run for the Farmers” generated massive support and a significant amount of money which was used for the palay-buying project.

    In buying the palay, Maria said they ensured those who can benefit were really poor, lowly farmers.

    “We challenged them to work hard and not view our initiative as a sort of dole-out,” said Maria.

    In a simple ceremony, YBFP’s chief farmer, Totong Arceo, gave the farmer-traders inputs on organic farming “which they received overwhelmingly,” according to Maria.

    “They even requested if we could come back in another time and share them more knowledge on natural way of growing crops, which we promised to do,”said the YBFP executive.

    The Farm bought a total of 105 sacks of palay at P20/kilo, double the current buying price, with the milled rice given back to the farmers.

    A mill owner in Narra, Norile Enriquez, agreed to give a 50-centavo/kilo discount to the farmers to have their palay husked and milled, which “helped significantly the farmers,” said Hope Alas, YBFP vice president for tourism affairs.

    Upon learning of Yamang Bukid Farm’s generous offer, the farmers were ecstatic that one of them, Felix Gonzales, even gave away portions of the milled rice to his non-farming neighbors, shocking even the Yamang Bukid personnel.

    “Mang Felix asked us to accompany him to his house where he repacked his milled rice and give these away to his neighbors, particularly those who do not own a farm,” recounted Maria.

    Other farmers also expressed intention to share their harvest to their community, in an apparent case of “paying it forward,” said Maria.

    “We are thankful to all who supported us when we started this endeavor months ago, particularly to the hundreds of individuals who ran with us and believed in our advocacy of helping raise awareness about the sorry state of Filipino farmers,” said the YBFP executive. “We are grateful that by doing business with a heart by living a life for others, we are now able to not just bring a message but enlist people who are willing to do the same mission as we’re in now, even if they come from diverse backgrounds,” Maria said.

    “Our farmers now are inspired that they have us who are their allies in their effort to improve their lives through agriculture,” added Maria, a former seminarian.

    (Juan Lim)
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Yamang Bukid Farm Palawan to be showcased in PH biggest tourism expo

  • Yamang Bukid Farm-Palawan has been invited to join one of the country’s biggest tourism travel and trade fair in Pasay City.
    The invitation to the Philippine Travel Mart was extended by Elizabeth Maclang, superintendent of the Puerto Princesa Underground Subterranean River National Park (PPUSRNP), Puerto Princesa City’s world renown landmark.
    It will be held at SMX Convention Center from Aug. 30-Sept. 1.

    Photo by JM Zap

    Maclang said the trade and tourism expo organized by the Philippine Travel Operators Association (PhilTOA) is among the Philippines’ biggest.
    “In line with this, we would like to solicit your support by joining us in the said travel fair and by showcasing your products and conducting free taste and giveaways to increase foot traffic,” Maclang wrote in a letter to Yamang Bukid Farm management.

    The PPSNRP-PAMO will head the delegation of tour operators from Puerto Princesa. The invitation marked another opportunity for Yamang Bukid Farm to showcase to industry leaders and to tourism community its products and amenities as an emerging farm tourism destination in Puerto Princesa and Palawan. (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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