I never thought I'd make it to Bacolod this year. I didn't have time to do my research so I was left with thoughts of only chicken inasal and pastries - from what I've heard and read before of Bacolod haha. I thought this would be like my Iloilo trip since it's just an hour or two away by boat.. Bacolod is also just Bacolod City for me (now it's Negros Occidental haha). Who knew that the whole Negros (Oriental and Occidental, where Bacolod is) is vying to be the organic bowl of Southeast Asia? I'd like to thank the ATI (Agricultural Training Institute) of the Philippine Department of Agriculture for showing me a different side of Negros. After all, the Philippines is primarily an agricultural country. The learnings I got to take home from this spontaneous trip definitely beat going here on my own for the first time =) We stayed at May's Organic Garden - an organic farm with accommodations, a training community for farmers and home to RU Foundry's many innovative technologies and heavy-duty farm equipment (proudly made in Negros).
Bacolod is only an hour away from Manila by plane - 1 hour and 15 minutes via Philippine Airlines. The view from above immediately brought a smile to my face.
The view of flat farmlands (with trees and a clear sky) was a beautiful welcome sign to what this trip was all about :)
The plane landed in Silay Airport - the airport for "Bacolod" is actually not in Bacolod, but in Silay City :) According to a poster I read at the airport, Silay City is "the Seat of Arts, Culture and Eco-tourism in the Visayas" with its mansions, music, dances, delicacies and natural wonders so maybe it's something that might be worth exploring too. For this trip, we headed immediately to May's Garden in Bacolod (45 minutes away by car).
First impressions - the open dining space, that spiral staircase, the golf cart, the decorative plants, that parrot
and all that food for lunch! Haha. There's supposed to be WIFI here but I wasn't able to connect at all.
Mr. Ramon Uy and Mrs. May Aileen Uy welcomed us and told us that the produce at their organic farm is used to make the dishes served to guests here.
Quite notable is this langka (prepared like kinilaw) dish.
Naturally, there's fresh organic salad
with homemade dressing :)
My fav was the biko :D
We made our way up to the rooms - 2 floors, no elevators haha. This is the common area.
This was our room! Loved the Love Green Earth design on the beddings
And how they were able to fit 6 single beds here. We were screaming and scrambling with delight! Felt like I was in one of those America's Next Top Model episodes haha.
Luckily for us, there were 2 bathrooms too! There was a toilet, shower and sink in each CR.
I think my only concern was the dogs barking at night, the low flowrate of water and the temperature was not that hot for me. My roommates resorted to the balde-at-tabo method to bathe more efficiently.
Then there's this one time that the water stopped flowing at night while one was taking a bath.. I'm not sure if it's a standard that they turn off the water at night to conserve but yeah, I had to go down and ask them if they could magically have water again so that my roomie can finish her bath. My tip if you're staying here: have another person in the room and bring WIFI sticks (bring all networks and hope for the best haha).
Here's the other bathroom.
You can juat watch TV if 2 people beat you to the restroom haha.
Here's a peek at an occupied private room (our groupmates). It has one big (maybe double bed) and one single bed.
Then they have a bathroom, deskspace and TV.
Here's the dorm-type room with bathroom. Too bartolina-style for me... Out of the 3 rooms, I think we got the best one for groups! ;)
Welcome to a few of the rest of May's Garden hehe. We were a given an intro about the advocacy of this farm for their community. They established the Eco-Agri Development Foundation (for organic farmer training and capacity-building), RU Foundry (for farming equipment), the Negros Occidental Design and Packaging Center (for processing), Puro Organic (buys produce at a price that the farmers dictate), Fresh Start (sells the organic products) and May's Organic Farm (to showcase appropriate farming methods and technologies).
Organic meryenda to enhance my brain from the new info overload haha.
They sell organic coffee, piaya, coco sugar, muscovado sugar, insect repellants, hand sanitizers (will tell you more about this below) from the farmers they support.
Let's walk around the farm before it gets too dark.
You can go here on a day tour. They have a minimal entrance fee. Pool fee is P100. May's Garden can also be turned into a wedding and events venue.
Behind the pool is a vermicompost area.
There's the RU Foundry and Machine Shop shredder. I read somewhere that this is how Mr. Ramon Uy started his business. Story goes that a friend asked him to repair a broken shredder because parts are not available locally. Being an undergrad mechanical engineer, he offered to design one instead using local parts. He began selling his invention and other types of shredders in the early 2000s. From here, they started to develop appropriate technology for organic farmers.
We learned early on from Mr. Pat Acosta in his La Trinidad organic farm that a heavy-duty shredder is an organic farmer's best friend. From here, he'll be able to make good compost, grow his veggies and eventually, his farm and feed his animals. What do you think of these very pink and fat odorless pigs? Haha. Honestly, they're the biggest ones I've seen so far and the cutest! They eat organic madre de agua (leaves below) and drink tuba to sleep!
This is the hydraulic ram pump made by the RU Foundry. Think it works well for those who need water in the highlands. There's a tall spout beside it where the water comes out and couldn't fit in the picture BTW hahaha. I believe you don't need electricity to make this work for you and pump water up. The things I learn on these trips.. Haha.
Proudly Negros-made. You'll see shredders here that can actually be a source of livelihood. Y'all know about the plant shredder.
It spits out things that look like bamboo shreds haha. In time, this will be your compost.
Mr. Uy's business came at a time when the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act was turned into law. So, you'll find plastic shredders!
Business Idea! - Turn shredded multi-colored glass into a decorative wall or piece! ;)
Business Idea - Stone Shredders! - Mr. Uy said big stones from riverbanks have no value (no one will pay you for them) but BUT if you shred them, construction wants 'em!
Business Idea - Paper Shredders with paper charcoal-making technology!
I think it's like making paper mache haha then you add cornstarch and burn it, baby! Haha.
We then rode a golf car to the RU Eco-Agri Organic Theme Park next door! Well, it looked like a theme park to me and a nice pre-nup photoshoot area :) There's a small packaging and laboratory area here where they process coffee, cheese and many more :D
In an open and roofed area, you can find this Lemongrass Oil Distiller. Oh my gosh, the smell in the air was so nice!
So the oil from the lemongrass is being extracted with this RU Foundry machine. There's a story here they told us about. Once there was a whole village / barangay in Negros Occidental that lived on making charcoal. The impact of making charcoal extends to the human health. They installed one of these machines and told them to plant lemongrass instead. They bought the lemongrass oil from the farmers and turned it into high-value products like mosquito repellants and hand sanitizers. The introduction of this technology actually wiped out the charcoal-making in that village as more farmers realized the benefits of this and going organic.
They said you can extract oil from flowers and many other plants using this giant hotpot.
The lemongrass that's been squeezed will be made into compost too. Now I know that this distilling process also uses heat and that inhaling too much of it might not be a good idea as well. They said they asked the community to start planting firewood as well to fuel this machine. I think you can also use the bike on the side to power it.. Hmm maybe they can use masks and invent a solar one for less firewood consumption.. Suddenly thinking about Mr. Laruan's mokusaku machine back in Benguet which liquidizes smoke haha.
Anyway, here's Rod demonstrating the pedal shredder :) Exercise and shred at the same time!
Then for watering needs, there's the Rope pump! Mr. Uy said this is buildable and uses old tires and belts or something haha. Basta it works and looks easier than the traditional poso hehe. I think it can roll by itself too once you wind it a bit.
Ok so let's head to dinner, ayt? You can all relate to rice and lumpia, right? Haha. Well, the lumpia mix was a bit different with corn inside hehe.
During our last day, I decided to just drag some people for a walk to take my photos hahaha.
This is to remember our karaoke nights and veranda (closeby) dinners by hehe.
Farm / ATI Organic Farming Learning Site Philippines Details:
Ramon Uy and May Aileen Uy
Sitio Aning, Pahanocoy, 6100 Bacolod City
Negros Occidental, Philippines
To visit the different ATI-assisted projects (Organic Farming Learning Sites), you can drop by or ask the ATI Regional Training Center nearest you or inquire through:
982AGRI (982-2474) for Metro Manila calls
1-800-10-982AGRI (1-800-10-9822474) for provincial toll-free calls using PLDT landlines
For Smart and Talk & Text Subscribers, send a message to 391-DA (391-32).
For non-Smart Subscribers, send a message to 0920-946AGRI (0920-9462474).