September 29, 2013

A Visit to Penalosa Organic Farm

I am not used to waking up in the morning. Morning - when the sun is up is usually my sleep time. But when I was in Bacolod for our Organic Farm Tour, the experience once again reminded me of how beautiful it is to wake up in the morning.

We headed to Penalosa Organic Farm on our second day of Organic Agriculture Tour. A lovely organic farm in the Victorias City. It was a long drive from May's Organic Garden where we were staying. People know how much I dread long drives - but traveling with blogger friends is a whole new experience for me. I once traveled with people I just met, traveled for business, with friends and with family - but blogging for leisure-slash-work with people who share the same passion as mine (writing and story telling) is just as awesome!

We finally arrived in Penalosa Organic Farm and was welcomed with this beautiful sight. If you are traveling to Negros Occidental, this place is one of the places to see and visit.

Click Read More to see how beautiful Penalosa Farm is..

We were even welcomed with Sir Ramon Penalosa's wit and humor. 
This guy does know how to keep the audience engaged with 
his interaction and witty antics. 

A little bit of introduction about Penalosa Farm - Sir Ramon left us with a statement that left us thinking - Agriculture can help elevate our status as a third world country. We should eliminate the thinking of being dependent on other for the supply of goods. Through Organic Farming, we can reach the oasis of supply - besides organic farming is Pro Life, Pro God and Pro Pocket.

We were served with this aromatic tea and Sir Ramon shared that this tea is all natural. The sweetening agent and flavoring are all from natural leaves. A five-leaf tea is what it is called. It is refreshing in a hot sunny day, despite it is served warm. A hint of calamansi, and a little pinch of sweetness. He said that it will help us enhance our memory that would be beneficial for our tour.

Before we got our feet soaked with soil and tasted the many different plants (yes, we tasted!) in the Penalosa Farm, sir Ramon invited us for a tour around the house villa - which served as a welcome hall and lodging space for the guests. With a small area, the house was built with materials that might be considered as "waste" but inspiration and with the help of his kid who is an architect, they were able to build such a master piece nestled in a beautiful farm.

I loooove this lovely table made of logs and glass

The house can accommodate 50 plus guests! 
Amazing use of space and materials!

I am for modern houses and old, antique house sometimes 
scares me.. BUT this house is an exception for me!

On the top floor, you will see a good view of the farm.

I can dream of owning the same rest house in the future!

We were then invited to the conference hall where we learned more about Organic Farming and Agriculture. Penalosa Farm is proud of the Micro Model Integrated Micro Business Farm. We were asked about the famous beaches, mountains and tourist spots in the Philippines, and it was a surprise that no one even thought or mentioned about the beautiful places in Negros.

Sir Ramos then shared that Negros is known for its farms, and more people come to Negros Occidental because of organic farming. Organic Practitioners from all over the world learn from us, and we don't want foreigners to learn our technology and practices, then later on started exporting in the Philippines. 

To give us a taste of learning more about organic farming, and to help us better appreciate the things surrounding us at Penalosa Farm, he grouped us and gave us special tasks. I was assigned in Group 2, and we were tasked to list 30 Culinary Plants, 10 Pesticidal, 10 Medicinal and 10 Botanical Plans. 

We have to feel, smell and taste the plants! It was exciting! It is as if I were in the Garden of Eden where I can just pick a plant or a leaf, and eat it. No need to worry about poisonous chemical. This is what you call living in a garden of paradise!

 These are some of the plants we had gathered.
Some are sweet, sour and flavourful!

The plants served like an appetizer for me, that I started craving for food and it was perfect timing when we were invited to Cafe Organico for lunch!

You know when you are with a company of bloggers, lunch time should be 1.5 hours, and set aside 15 minutes for food shots, and the extra 15 minutes for more food shots in between bites.

My plate! Of course I had my second round!
The pumpkin soup is sooo good!

After the storm!

It was nice eating organic food that you feel less guilty going for a second round. Our Penalosa Farm lunch was the most colorful food set we had during our stay in Bacolod.

Back to the great hall, it was time for the big reveal - the presentation. It felt like defense presentation back in College.

Group 1 was the first to present. 
They made case study on produce chain
and the estimate profit for each product/services output.

 Put Mike, Enzo and Rod in a group, you will have a crazy presentation. It was fun!

Sir Ramon then make a human chain and showed us the interaction of each product and output and how organic farmers can make use of each for everyone's benefit. He invited each of us to take part as a "model" - some became chicken, feeds, waste products and business partners - while I became another business partner which can benefit and grow business from ready-made poultry products. 

 We were then asked to present and here's our output (and my contribution as a secretary!). Marj of course helped me took down notes during the farm tour! (thanks Marj!)

If you have this table and got these plants planted in your backyard, 
you don't need to go to the market to buy your seasoning and flavourings!

Our fab team!
Alex and I rocking our boots!

Group 3 then presented, and I was amazed with Jonel's creativity and presentation. I felt like a kid listening as he drew a pig based on their presentation and findings.

We got a big applause from Sir Ramon - he was impressed with our findings and output - but at the end of the day, I think we got the bigger take-away from the organic farm tour and visit to the Penalosa Farm.

Before we left, he shared with us some "wisdom" - Live. Learn. Love. Laugh.

I think I am doing those four! But probably I can improve "live" by going organic - and to start with it, I can probably go plant in our rooftop where mom keeps some good plants.

Some more wisdom:

No unproductive soil, but unproductive farm. (same goes for other work places ;))

There is money in the countryside (and I am now convinced!)

A farmer who doesn't know how to pray is not a good farmer (indeed. true for other professions - we have to give back the glory to Him). 

Thank you Sir Ramon Penalosa and to your lovely wife for accommodating us and for teaching us the things that I can never learn in the metro!

Please do watch out for the upcoming posts about our Bacolod Organic Farm Tour. 
Also check:

***Thank you once again to Penalosa Organic Farm and Department of Agriculture - Agricultural Training Institute, Ms. Niet, and Ruth Floresca, for the amazing 4-day organic agriculture tour. 

Please stay tuned for more stories about this trip! 

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