I believe that when you're silent and you just take in what's around you, the place will speak for itself and unravel its uniqueness to you at its own time. I cherish these moments and have several conversations with myself while there's a tour going on ;) Let me take you through my favorite spots at the GK Enchanted Farm in Bulacan before I go into what this farm village university is all about. =) Given the chance and more time here, I would guiltlessly revisit these places and do the same things at my own pace. I've decided to make this into two posts and you can read Part 2 of my Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm picks in this link ;)
I've written about the GK Farm for my very first article (published in Circuit Mag entitled In Awe by Enchanted Farm) before when I first heard about it from a friend. Gawad Kalinga had a different model for this community and integrated it with tourism so I was so intrigued and wanted to know more. We are not house-building and doing voluntourism here like my previous experience with Habitat for Humanity. Instead, we are encouraged to just spend money at this farm (like buying an ice-cold Bayani Brew), hear about the various social enterprises here and enjoy ourselves as tourists. The opportunity to visit came early and I found myself surprised that we arrived just 1.5 hours away from the GK Enchanted Cafe in Commonwealth, Quezon City.
The first structure that caught my attention was the Hyundai Center for Green Innovation. Somehow, it reminded me of a building in my old Beijing campus and how I miss school when I took this shot (well probably because of the stairs and the mass influx of international students who are the ones doing our tours...).
Gawad Kalinga has successfully partnered with entities like Hyundai in constructing these hubs of different focuses. Hopefully, once the farm university curriculum in social entrepreneurship has been set up, this building will be instrumental in producing a lot of innovations and eco-friendly solutions. Just imagine an international-grade uni in the countryside that is very inclusive to the poorest who cannot afford a top-tier education.
I've read that there's a green museum inside and dorm-style accommodations.
I loved the design and fixtures. It resembles a big and modern bahay-kubo...
You'll get to this next location in around 15 minutes by walking. And it's called the Bamboo Palace Center for Development Design :)
The pathway that leads to the "palace" was filled with interesting information. Did you know that you're not supposed to eat raw bamboo shoots? This is so useful if ever I get stuck hungry in a jungle or somewhere with bamboo. No joke. I wasn't able to read all of them but I would really take the time if ever.
We tend to underestimate bamboo it seems and well, I only think of pandas, China, lumpiang ubod, a makeshift balsa and gardens when I think of the word.
Architects from Singapore, French engineers and none other than our top local designers have turned it into this gigantic mansion filled with creative applications of bamboo and furniture made of other indigenous materials from the Philippines.
I wonder if someone will turn Kenneth Cobonpue-like and be inspired enough to create beautiful pieces after seeing all this... It's time to harness the potential of bamboo in our country it seems! I myself don't mind bamboo trees perfectly and naturally bending to form (tree) tunnels everywhere. It's a super great photo opp and protection from the sun, don't cha think? ;)
They associate the bamboo with the poor here, everywhere and so easy to be taken for granted when we're so distracted by everything else. If you zero in on it though and give it due respect, you'll bring out something that can take the world by storm.
I got a little lost in my own world with the details. Well, I didn't even know there's bamboo this big...
Although not as polished, it did remind me of how they made palaces in the olden days (like the ones I see in China..)
But with modern conveniences of course hehe. I wonder what they put in the hollow middle...
The arts and design students that completed this must have had a blast and tons of headache coming up with the awesome uses of bamboo. Hehe.
I was momentarily thinking how long it would take me to DIY this so that I can have it in my future condo...
The air was cool inside and the ventilation was good (I don't think there was no airconditioning, perfect yoga or workout or celebration place you can rent...). I was fascinated with these windows too.
I don't know why but I was drawn to the Bamboo Palace... I later came back for the sunset but it was too dark I got a little scared haha. Maybe I was just meant to see it in daylight coz I can totally stay here away from the scorching sun. Even the plight of stairs was pretty...
I wanted this "chair" in my living room... It looked like a gigantic, comfy upturned comb hihi.
I circled around it, went back, tried it (very nice) and just couldn't stop looking at it...
I did a quick tour and saw a shelf,
this cool irregularly-shaped table and chair (I like the concept though),
and this C chair.
I loved this shot so much. No mirrors and perfectly captures my fascination here. Might be too gap-py for young children though so just let the adults enjoy the peace hehe.
Alas, free time was over and we had to go to more spots... They were growing beds in front of the palace. Hopefully when it's done, there will be flowers and butterflies. A tall maze of herbs and edible growing stuff is not a bad idea either if you want to make my wishes come true, GK. I don't know if I can provide a rational (and more social-centric) explanation but maybe we can think of something like Harry Potter's race of champions. Haha. If we get stuck inside, we'll be able to survive healthily (with potable water fountains, of course)... Let me note this great idea down for future reference.
If the Hyundai Green Center was a partnership with a company and the Bamboo Palace was a partnership with an academic institution and professionals, I was glad to find out that there's a partnership with the government through the DENR-GK Agro-Economic and Nature Park in the property. They didn't tell us about that but the placard and all was right next to the Joey Velasco Foundation part - the meditation area called Garden of Hope... I personally have never heard about him but I've read that his wife said that he "always gave importance to the value of life and making the most of it no matter how small the act may be" and somehow, I believe they wanted his legacy, life, art and inspiration to continue touching lives with this special spot.
When you've been under the sun for a few hours doing a tour, this is a rare opportunity to collect your thoughts (even for just a while) and enjoy the shade.
The feel of this place was super serene and the vibe was totally relaxing.
When you need space, oxygen, alone time and a breather from the farm, it will be worth the walk at least for me.
You can pray here (it has the stations of the cross) or read a book.
It's right next to the Agricool nursery. My friend Cherrie who first told me about this place heads this movement where they make agriculture cool and fun for the young so that they will want to be involved and make it a career option when they grow up. They also train farmers and give them access to market. Isn't it cool? ;) Nobody wants to be a farmer anymore and there's a global food shortage crisis just waiting to happen... After all the things I've learned about organic agri and exposure during my blogging trips, the experience made farming and farmers cool in my eyes. I'm actually wishing we had farming classes in school so that we at least know that food doesn't just appear easily in supermarkets. It's never too late though :D
I've got quite a laugh internally with the next one, primarily because I graduated with an Economics degree from Ateneo. I've been trying to connect it with what I do (and my life) for the longest time and I guess I felt like a student again in this farm university with their real case studies and talk of bayanihan economics, macroeconomics, microeconomics and a new word I picked up - "genius of the poor". Although there's still a lot to be done, you can actually see it working with your own eyes instead of just pure theory in the classroom. Anyway, back to the LifeBank Center for Bayanihan Economics.
This structure is being built beside the IASIS Health and Wholeness Center (they're aiming for a world-class wellness and spa facility that charges a third of the price of the exclusive ones we have now).
Once finished, this center will be for the farmers and social programs aimed at empowering Pinoys to care and share through our famed bayanihan spirit. I believe the GK Farm is developing a micro-finance program with the LifeBank Foundation
and I heard something about experimenting on renting a small piece of land where you can try growing your own produce.
There are more than 25 hectares in this property and a lot of things going on at the same time. It's very easy to be overwhelmed by their big dreams. Their goal is to create more Pinoy social entrepreneurs who will partner with the less privileged because they need each other to create something out of nothing and lift each other up. I looked out and smiled as I thought about a brighter future for the Philippines with projects such as these. We can all do what we can and not lose ourselves in the process. In fact, I suspect we find our truest selves instead.
I can see like an ampitheater not that far away. I wonder if this will be the site for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Lotus Center for Environmental Sustainability. They seek to transform a wasteland into a productive and vibrant ecosystem. I think they're heading to the right direction and I for one was amazed by the scale of what they've all done (as a community) so far. This was once an abandoned idle piece of quarried land, would you believe? It's quite Enchanting, especially up close.
My Favorite Places and Things to Do at the GK Enchanted Farm Village University in Angat, Bulacan! - Part 1 of 2
Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm - a Farm Village University, a Silicon Valley for Social Entrepreneurship, a Disneyland for Social Tourism
California Street, Pangi Angat Road,
Angat, Bulacan, Philippines
Open Tuesdays to Sundays 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Website, How to Get There, Activities, Accommodation and Fees
Step by Step Directions to the GK Farm
Step by Step Directions to the GK Farm
This is my sixth contribution to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers Blog Carnival. Mervz Marasigan (of Pinoy Adventurista) is currently compiling other Pinoy bloggers' Luzon favorites this month.
My first ever contribution to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers Blog Carnival was a 3D2N and 4D3N itinerary to El Nido, Palawan. Click here for other 3D2N Suggestions for destinations all over the Philippines.
My second contribution to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers Blog Carnival was an 11D10N itinerary to Seoul, Korea under the compilation of Leap of Faith: When Traveling Changed My Life stories from Travel Bloggers all over the Philippines.
My third contribution to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers Blog Carnival was a dream itinerary to Barcelona and my pledge to turn it into reality. Click here for other ultimate dream destinations and travel wish lists from other Pinoy travel bloggers.
My fourth contribution to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers Blog Carnival was about a walking tour of Intramuros, compiled under Philippine walking tours.
My fifth contribution to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers Blog Carnival was about graduations, our educational background and learnings as Pinoy travel bloggers, compiled under this You Never Stop Learning post.