Working mom strives to send husband to school

Published: July 20, 2019 12:25pm | Puerto Prinsesa


She symbolizes the changing role of a modern woman. Like most mothers, Arlyn Villawala prioritizes her family above else. That’s why it was painful to her to leave home for months, away from her husband and their baby daughter to prepare for the licensure exams for agriculturists.

“I could not help but cry when I hear her voice over the mobile phone every time I call home. I terribly miss them,” Arlyn said, holding back tears during an interview at the University of the Philippines Los Banos recently.

Arlyn, an employee of farm-tourism destination Yamang Bukid Farm in Puerto Princesa City Palawan, and fellow employee Daniel John Zabala, are sent by their employer to the UPLB for the rigorous months-long review, preparing them for the biggest day of their careers yet.

A graduate of agricultural economics at Palawan State University (PSU) in Puerto Princesa, Arlyn is a young aspiring agriculturist who used to work for the city government.

Among her tasks was to conduct surveys in the city’s villages in relation to the local government’s programs. During one of those trips, she dropped by the Farm, observed and learned how the former community of illegal loggers there was transformed into nature lovers with the introduction of the farm.

Before long, Arlyn joined her colleagues at the city government who worked at the farm. “I was given an offer I could not resist,” she said in Filipino. “The pay was good and the working environment was perfect for me who loves farming.”

At the farm, Arlyn is assigned in helping oversee the sprawling estate’s vegetable, herbal and ornamental gardens. She is among the farm’s young agriculture experts who teach former illegal loggers the scientific way of farming and of conserving nature. Her good pay is not only helping meet her family’s basic needs but it afforded her the luxury of paying for her husband’s school.

Working as a mall security guard during the day, Arlyn’s husband goes to school at night, taking up criminology at one of the city’s private colleges. “I’m working for them. Even if it’s hard to be away from my little girl, I’ll just bear it,” Arlyn said.

Due to their tight review schedule, she can only call her husband and daughter at least once a week.

She said she would persevere so her husband can finish his schooling, adding she was very proud and happy when he told her of his desire to go to college. Arlyn was grateful to Yamang Bukid Healthy Products Inc. (YBHPI), parent company of Yamang Bukid Farm, for the support it extended for their review. Aside from review fees, the wellness products manufacturer also shouldered their food, board and lodging and other expenses.

She said she would try to make most of the time in the review to learn as much as she could and get herself well-prepared for the board exams. “I will give my best to pass in the board exams. This is for my family. They are my inspiration,” she said.

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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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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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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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