Yamang Bukid Farm to join Asean agri-biz workshop

Published: February 17, 2020 01:25pm | PUERTO PRINCESA CITY


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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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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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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Farm Products

  • Get a full farming experience at the Yamang Bukid Farm - Palawan! Grab some of our luscious yet locally flavored food and healthy products such as Sumbulo (suman sa buho), ready to drink healthy quenchers, and organically-grown vegetables – harvested and processed right from the tilled lands of our farmers. Wear and proudly showcase our indigenous items that are crafted with our hearts and hands.

    Avail these and you will also help not just our faming community but also to company’s scholars, dialysis and operation patients, families, elders, and so much more as we DO BUSINESS WITH A HEART! Watch our video and see what you can buy that can only be found at the Yamang Bukid Farm.
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