Yamang Bukid Farm rules in Subaraw Float parade

Published: November 12, 2019 01:25pm | PUERTO PRINCESA CITY


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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Bees buzz at YB farm,
pollinators’ new home

  • 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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Yamang Bukid Farm’s “happiest” tour guide

  • His warm personality can be infectious and Isabelito Aspa Jr. has used it to his advantage.

    The 20-year old who loves to put a pink cotton ball on his wrist is a tour guide of Yamang Bukid Farm in Bacungan, Puerto Princesa City.

    Wearing a pair of rain boots, pants and a blue shirt emblazoned with block letters proclaiming Yamang Bukid Farm as an agri-tourism site, Aspa was now meeting a group of local tourists who were stepping off a van and are lining up to avail of free taste of turmeric 10-in-1 tea at the farm entrance.

    “Welcome to Yamang Bukid Farm ma’am, sir. Hope you enjoy here. Free taste,” Aspa, known to friends and colleagues as Sab or Sabie, says as he hands a cup of Yamang Bukid Healthy Products’ turmeric 10-in-1 tea to each of the new visitors who eagerly gulped it down.

    “I like it here, you can meet new people everyday,” he says, ringing the pink feathery trinket around his right wrist.

    A resident of Puerto Princesa’s Cabayugan village, comes from a fairly large family where tolerance has been the norm as it is love.

    His father is a farmer and his mother is an enterprising housewife who hawks everything, from cosmetics to homemade delicacies.

    “I used to join my mother sell polvoron (a powdery sweetened confectionary), karioka (a type of Palawan delicacy) and Avon products near the entrance to the (Puerto Princesa) Underground River in Sabang,” the youngest of nine siblings recalls. “She is not a spendthrift. She is frugal.”

    During his elementary days, Sabie found his hobby of designing clothes, particularly gowns. He practiced it well, until his classmates noticed his talent and asked him to design their toga during their high school graduation.

    After secondary school, Sabie took up a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management in one of the tertiary schools in Palawan where he met and became friends with Professor Melissa Olit, a consultant for Yamang Bukid Farm.

    Professor Olit hired him and several other students to help at the farm’s restaurant part-time. Into his third year in college, Sabie was offered by the farm management a scholarship until he got his degree.

    As a way of paying it back, Sabie decided to apply for a full-time job at the farm. He says his work entails meeting people and attending to their needs while guiding them in their tour around the sprawling agri-tourism destination. “You should give the guests full service. You attend to them in a cheerful, friendly manner. That’s my mantra in my job here.” Sabie says, adding his crackling laugh is also an additional asset.

    “Sometimes guests would also join in my laughter. i hope they won’t get irritated, but that’s just the way how I laugh,” he said. The farm tour guide, who openly admits being gay, says he gets respect and acceptance from fellow workers like that of his family’s.

    “They love me even if I’m Sabie,” he says, once again letting loose his infectious guffaws. He first learned liking girl stuff when he was still in kindergarten. But despite being effeminate, Sabie says his family accepted him whole-heartedly. He never heard being mocked upon, much less condemned, in their home. He was allowed to freely express himself.

    He says he is grateful Yamang Bukid Farm is not only a place that values its employees by giving them competitive pay and its customers by extending them excellent service. The upland paradise has become a place of tolerance for him and other members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community.

    The farm does not discriminate against workers just because of gender or sexual preferences. It supports that diversity, instead. The most striking feature of the farm related to this is its multi-gender washroom or toilet, in which it built four separate toilets for male, female, gay and lesbian guests.
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YB Farm’s Evolution

  • The Yamang Bukid farm in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan was initially intended to be a turmeric plantation, but later it evolved into a place for relaxation for eager tourists and weary travelers, and a habitat to wild, endemic species of animals and insects and flowering plants in the area.

    Baguio City-based Yamang Bukid Healthy Products, Inc. started the farm in Barangay Bacungan Princesa a little over two years ago to produce turmeric. It was an initially 1.2-hectare tract of unproductive land that was supposed to be dedicated to turmeric farm.

    But it has since evolved into a diverse habitat of local fauna and flora, even as it began to be known as a farm-tourism destination, especially after the Tourism Department granted it an accreditation.

    As it burst into a cool idyllic sight, the farm soon caught the attention of everyone – from curious passers-by to wide-eyed tourists and travelers -- as it transformed into an agro-forestry showcase, an ideal place for people, families, and friends to be in commune with nature —free of any charge.

    With this exciting development, the farm's initiators saw another opportunity not only to expand their venture but also broaden the help they are giving back to the community and the environment.
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