Picking Wild Raspberries with a great view of the mountains.
I should have put the same caption to the countless pictures we have taken during our visit to an organic farm in Quezon. Yes, picking wild raspberries in a cool, breezy weather can happen in the Philippines! We found the hidden garden and its treasures in Bangkong Kahoy, Dolores Quezon.
Two weeks ago, I and my OA Blogger friends, together with the Agricultural Training Institute embarked in another journey of organic discovery in Dolores Quezon. On our way to the venue, we were in debate on which destination we are heading - Bangkang Kahoy, Bagong Kahoy, Bagong Bangka.. until we arrived right in the middle of Mt. Cristobal and Mt. Banahaw - in Bangkong Kahoy (Wooden Bench).
True to its name, we we were ushered in the a nipa-hut style restaurant where we had lunch and seated in wooden bench. It took us around 3 hours to get to the destination. Bangkong Kahoy is indeed a hidden treasure - but greater treasures await us in the buffet table. We had mushroom soap, and more mushroom dishes. Joining us on our lunch were some foreign guests and students from University of the Philippines who were on the site for field trip. Oh, how I missed field trips!
Click Read More to know more about this trip!
For dessert, we had these red berries which goes perfect with sugar. Its rough surface is in contrast with how chewy it is - reminded me of berry-flavored jelly beans. Finally, I found a name to call this new fruit discovery - Wild Raspberry or Sampinit.
We were not even staying for an hour and I already have a lot of discoveries - like this interesting sink - that works as a drinking fountain and washing area.
For someone who loves to drown herself with water, clean, fresh water is something I always ask for whenever I am out and eating. So I asked - and I was directed to this basin sink. We found out that the water running from this faucet flows from Mt. Banahaw and is pure and fresh! Spring water!
Growing up in Manila where drinking water from faucet would mean suicide, I was a bit hesitant to try the drink it, but the opportunity to taste a mountain-fresh water was right in front of me - flowing graciously in crystal clear. So I drank - it is naturally cold and refreshing.
When we were ushered to our sleeping room, I was expecting to spend the night in a nipa-hut style house, or probably stay with the locals in the area.
But we got a nice bedroom to share with the girls!
The room is equipped with TV (Cable ready), air conditioner
and safety box. Plus, free WIFI connection in the room!
with a fireplace to boot!
Hot and Cold water available in the washroom
with nice rain shower head
At night, you will not need air conditioner, as the place is naturally cool with temperature playing at 20 degrees.
We headed out for a quick farm tour of the valley and we were met by Sir Dion Pullan, a great grandson of the Bangkong Kahoy Valley owner, who prefers to call himself as a caretaker. Like most of the other land owners, Sir Dion aims to help local communities through livelihood program and work with local businesses in the area. They also want to preserve this beautiful site for the next generation and get the youth involved on this project through the program called FRIEND (Foundation for Reliance, Integrity, Education, Nurture Dolores).
Sir Dion's compassion about Bangkong Kahoy Valley, however, did not happen like a love at first sight. He has lived in Australia for 21 years and only got to visit the valley once in a while. He could just escape in the beautiful land in Australia, but as the beauty of the old town where he grew up suddenly vanished, that's the turning point that prompted him to do something about the 21 hectare land.
He put up organizations for farmers and started advocating the use of organic materials instead of pesticides. It was not easy to get approval from the farmers as they were worried that they might lose their land. But just like any other projects with a good cause, he later got the farmers' support.
It is as if, nature is on Sir Dion's side, he got a lot of supporters from his project and one is a group which believes in good karma and the power of nature. As such, they utilize Mt. Banahaw's Bulkan de Agua is the main source of water in Bangkong Kahoy Valley.
Bangkong Kahoy Valley has interesting landscape
which the management chose to retain
The curves and turns make the tour a lot more intetesting
We first visited the oyster mushroom laboratory, which Sir Dion describes as ancient and primitive. They started the oyster mushroom business with only Php250k capital after someone offered to supply mushroom to them. They learned how to grow and make their own feeds - and he is proud to share that they have finally learned the right technique.
The "nest" where organic mushrooms are grown are
prepared manually. It takes a long process to kill the bacteria and prepare these.
And this is where mushrooms are grown.
Organic Oyster Mushrooms is considered one of the most expensive mushrooms probably because it is grown and cultivated manually. In Bangkong Kahoy Valley, they only get the best and fresh mushrooms.
Organic Mushroom are sold for Php 200/kilo
in Bangkong Kahoy Valley, but can be very expensive once
transported in Manila
Oyster Mushrooms contain protein, carbohydrates, fiber, B vitamins, minerals and an antioxidant.
We were feeling hopeless that we might miss
the wild raspberry experience..
I found some reds in this area..
But they were challenging to pick!
Sir Dion promised to take us to a better Wild Raspberry area of the farm, and we walked some more in the valley and got mesmerized with its beauty.
What to do and what to see at Bangkong Kahoy Valley?
Take many pictures! Look at the beautiful view of the mountains! We spent a few good minutes in this area just to take pictures. The cool weather and picturesque view give a feeling that you are not in the Philippines (probably New Zealand?), but just the thought that we were actually in the Philippines makes it more fun!
with Melody (Girl Kuripot) who came
all the way from Malasimbo to join us!
Colors and Flowers
There is even a chapel which hosts weddings and ceremonies
And look at this nipa hut perfect for lovers and honeymoon-ers!
It gets a little cold at night though,
so you must really bring a human blanket with you ;)
Bangkong Kahoy Valley is also a good place to hold team building activities. They have a zip line and hanging bridge that combine the exciting experience. Well, to tell you honestly, I didn't get excited - first, I have already experienced the zip line in Tree Top Adventure, second, I got chickened out! That's the truth.
Imagine walking down that bridge without any side bars to hold on
but you have a rappel rope to hold your life.
I was not feeling adventurous that day so I said, No.
Pony and Horse-back Riding is as cheap as Php 50!
Then finally, we found what we were looking for!
Wild Raspberry or Sampinit is considered the world's healthiest food. I am okay to eat any fruit so I am good to pop these chewables! It is rich in anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. Studies also show that it can help in management of diabetes and has anti-cancer properties.
There I was, carefully picking the wild raspberries and popping them
like gummy candies straight from the shrub!
You see, I was not the only one ;)
We brought a handful Wild Raspberries
and mix 'em in my shake ;)
Our mini tour was done and we so enjoyed our free time. The cool weather is just perfect, as you enjoy the view and listen to the sound of nature.
The view from our room
At night, we had another lovely dinner - Mushroom Soup, Fried Mushroom, Chicken-Pork Adobo, and Cabbage Noodles.
I really love the restaurant here that
uses bangkong kahoy (wooden bench) in the dining area
They say that at night, fireflies would come out. We waited in a cool night, as we adore the beautiful sky and stars above us; however, no good camera was able to take the beautiful sight. Instagram was disappointed of #OABloggers. It was just stored in our memory. We decided to stay in our room, thinking that someone would come to pick us up for the firefly "show" but it must be the cool weather and long drive that drove me to the dream land.
I woke up at 5:00 AM but it was too dark to go outside,
at 6:00 AM, this was the view that greeted me.
I found my way back to the BK Valley restaurant
for some good coffee brew and breakfast
The Morning Girls
We had sayote omelette, fried fish (tuyo), egg and mushroom soup
The place is just so beautiful
I would have wanted to stay longer, and Sir Dion graciously asked us to stay longer - but everyone has a family commitment (it was a Sunday), and he said, we can allot the day in Bangkong Kahoy Valley. We promised him that we will be back and we will bring our friends and families.
Before heading home, we bought some veggies and mushroom at their mini-market. Most bought kamote, lettuce and mushroom.
I brought home some mushroom which my mom fried with batter - inspired by the food that we had in BK Valley. My dad said it tastes like squid - but a lot healthier and tastier.
Thank you so much, Bangkong Kahoy Valley and Sir Dion for accommodating us and for the new discoveries. Thank you Ms. Niet, ATI, Pinoy Extension, and OA Blogger Friends for making this trip alot more fun!
Planning to visit Bangkong Kahoy Valley?
HOW TO GET TO BANGKONG KAHOY VALLEY:
- Take any bus going to San Pablo, Quezon.
- Alight at San Pablo, and take the Jeep going to Dolores, Quezon.
- Alight at Dolores Church
- Take tricycle going to Bangkong Kahoy Valley.
Sir Dion advised that they can also pick-up guests as arranged. They are also working with the tricycle drivers to have a fix rate for fare going to BK Valley.
BANGKONG KAHOY VALLEY ACCOMMODATION:
Room Rate is Php6,000 per night (good for 4 to 6 pax). The room that we stayed in has two queen beds and 2 extra beddings. Breakfast is included.
Dion & Jing Pullan
Read more about our Organic Farm Tours: