Friday, October 28, 2016

Forest Wood Garden: A Success Story



Forest Wood Garden is a 5-hectare property in San Pablo City, Laguna owned and managed by Joselito and Myrna Frago.

Joselito (a former OFW turned agripreneur) was always interested in plants. His wife, Myrna Frago (an architect), put her landscaping and lawn-care skills to work by starting a lucrative business that turned a simple plant collection into a renowned landscaping design and contracting company.



Myrna joined exhibits and competitions in order to break into a competitor market . Myrna ensures that their works will stand out from a other participating competitors who have decades of experience behind them. At times, Myrna would go home snagging the first prize and with a host of a new customers that would later form part of Forest Wood Garden's portfolio of accomplished projects.The competitions gave Forest Wood Garden the exposure it needs. Forest Wood Garden was eventually lauded as the best landscaper in the land, having won several awards in the past.






Today, Forest Wood Garden is a DOT accredited Agri-Tourism Farm Site that accepts walk-in landscaping projects. Aside from finding bliss in doing landscaping work they love, they practice agroforestry.

For the past 10 years, Forest Wood Garden has been practising natural farming. It maintains forest integrity by combining trees with crops and livestock. Its agriculture practices optimizes the use of on-farm resources and at a sustainable level. They cultivate non-timber forest products or niche crops, such as mushrooms, herbs and greens that have high market value.

Forest Wood Garden holds lectures on organic farming that includes application of organic liquid fertilizers vermicompost, sustainable pig farming, mushroom culture, utilization and marketing. The also teach making organic juices and indigenous food from organic produce.






Forest Wood Garden was registered with the Department of Trade and Industry in 2004 and it was opened to the public in 2009. It officially became an Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) learning site for farmers and stakeholders in 2013.









During our farm tour, the Fragos served us delicacies that Forest Wood Garden is known for. We had Pansit Kalabuko, Plantsado Lamang Lupa and Balol. The Pansit Kalabuko is their bestselling stirfry noodles up made of squash (kalabasa), coconut (buko), gotu kola, mushroom, papaya, and other vegetables that makes it a healthy, filling dish. "Kalabuko" has been widely featured in various TV shows and magazines, making it a byword among locals and visitors.








Plantsado Lamang Lupa on the other hand is a native rootcrop "Toge" snack, wrapped in banana leaves then literally flattened out using an old-fashioned iron that uses with charcoals.



San Pablo City's Balol


Balol refers to the native pig meat that is mixed with herbs and spices then smoked, giving it a distinct flavor.  We also got to taste "Ube Halaya",  completing our "farm-to-table" dining experience.



The Fragos encourage students and the local resident of San Pablo to adopt agri-preneurship as a viable source of income.  Like Forest Wood Garden, agri-preneurship will help draw tourists to the city who are keen on discovering healthy, organic food options.

Do visit the Frago's restaurant in Sampaloc Lake.  They serve enticing food selections made from mushroom, which is why they refer to it as "Kubo-te".



Forest Wood Garden
500 Brgy.Sta.Elena. San Pablo City 4000

http://forestwoodgarden.com/


Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Music Run 2016 by Philam Vitality happens on December 3



Philam Vitality brings back The Music Run in McKinley West, Taguig City this December 3, 2016 after making it made waves last year.

The ultimate 5K music running festival that drew nearly 10,000 runners previously is expected to draw an even larger crowd with over 120 speakers playing everyone's favorite. The Music Run empowers the participants to control the soundtrack of the run by voting for their favorite songs in the build up. Songs with the most votes via bespoke 'Music Voting App' will eventuaĺly make the official run playlist across 5 interactive, music-themed zones.



Participants can vote up to 5 songs per playlist every day to build the official soundtrack for each zone via the live SpotifyMusic Voting App. The five-kilometer run will have 5 music-themed zones streaming rock, hip hop, old school, pop, and dance.



"While most fun runs originate from the US, The Music Run started in Asia and expanded throughout the region before crossing over to Europe and the US in the last two years. The reason for its massive success is its winning formula that combines music with the evergrowing fitness craze into the ultimate running and music festival that also puts control of the run's soundtrack in the hands of our Music Runners," said Martin Capstick, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Exceed Sports and Entertainment, who is organizing the run.

PhilamLife is at the forefront of leading innovations in the life industry to change the general perception about insurance. Getting covered is about living life to the fullest and being healthy to pursue one's passion and achieve one's goals.




"This is the second time that PhilamLife is partnering with The Music Run. We want to send a strong message that being healthy can also be fun and engaging...Our Philam Vitality is a full-scale wellness program where members get rewarded for making healthy choices. Though it, we are taking active steps to positively transform the lives of Filipinos by helping them live longer, healthier, and better lives", according to Philam Vitality Deputy Head, Kats Cajucom.

A pre-run performance by local alternative band Sud will kick off the event, while the after-run music festival will feature Australian radio house DJ San Withers.

Registrants can select from the Standard Pack (P 850 with shirt, bag, beat band, with sticker and temporary tattoo) and the Rock Star Pack (P 1,400 with additional towel, water bottle and cap over the standard kit). Kids less than 5 years old can join in for free.

Starting November 21, the Standard and Rock Star Packs will cost P 1,050 and P 1,800 respectively. Last call for late registration is on November 25, 2016.

Do visit www.themusicrun.com.ph for more information.





Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Sustainable Agriculture at Ato Belen Farm




Ato Belen Farm has its humble beginning as a 200-sqm coffee plantation in 1987. After it was badly hit by typhoon Milenyo, Ato Belen Farm transitioned into an integrated and diversified organic farm in 2006.

Now, the organic farm stands at 9 hectares selling organic inputs, high-value fruit trees and offering farming solutions.  It produces high quality fruits, vegetables, and livestock under the leadership of Brian Belen, son of Renato Belen.




They have a wide selection of trees that are grafted on to dwarf or semi-dwarf trees planted in plastic containers.  We saw healthy  black pepper, chico, avocado, pomelo, lanzones, and Japanese orange trees thriving in containers.



Ato Belen teaches farmers to grow their miniature fruit garden in pots or containers given the limited farmland area. They also sell several grafted tree varieties suited for growing in containers and patio pots.  Ato Belen Farm is a testimony  that growing fruit trees in a container is indeed possible!







Since the integrated farm uses high yield seeds, it requires more water. Hence, Ato Belen Farm  conserves water through proper soil management. Aside from collecting rain water, they use compost and utilize cover for crops.  The farm site also invested in a solar-powered pump to draw water from the ground and facilitate efficient irrigation.



After Renato "Ato" Belen was awarded the "Magsasaka siyentista" title in 2010,  Ato Belen Farm earned accreditation as one of Agricultural Training Institute's (ATI) learning sites in Calabarzon.









At Ato Belen Farm, they make use of Effective Microorganisms (EM) technology developed in Japan. Effective Microorganisms are mixed cultures of beneficial naturally-occurring organisms that ar made from a combination of photosynthetic bacteria, yeasts, lactic acid bacteria,  and ctinomycetes. These microorganisms have a reviving action on growing systems, making EM in demand for agricultural, medicinal, and environmental uses.

Brian Belen told us that their livestock has no stench thanks to EM. These microbes makes odor-less hog farming possible. EM also helps in increasing harvest and crop yield.  And they sell these farm production resources or 'Farm Inputs'  to interested farmers or farm enthusiasts.




Ato Belen Farm is open for tourists, farmers and educational field trips Mondays through Sundays, from 8 AM to 4PM.

Visit their website for updates.



Ato Belen’s Farm
Brgy. San Juan, San Pablo City, Laguna
Phone (049) 562-1215 / 0917-676 1915 / 0917=676 1908

https://atobelensfarm.com/

Monday, October 24, 2016

Relax and De-stress at Terra Verde EcoFarm

There is no refuting that human beings thrive in nature. Communing with nature is a therapeutic way to reconcile the world and human beings into one family.

It is no wonder why employees and executives who thrive in the city's energy and excitement would spend their vacations and weekends out of town to shed the pressures of city life and break free from the habits of stress. Some would even spend most of their retirement income into acres of farming land to rediscover a more balanced state of being.  Getting down and getting their hands dirty in planting to get people to relax and sink into a more balanced place seems like trending nowadays.

I came to appreciate the healing powers of organic farming when I joined in the Department of Agriculture invitation to explore the Organic Agriculture Practices in Southern Tagalog last October 12-14, 2016.
The Terra Verde Ecofarm in Maragondon, Cavite was our first stop,   According to its owners,  the organic was borne out of a medical prescription in 2007.  Emerson Atanacio had a thyroid condition triggered by stress.  His job as a school administrator was taking a toll on his body.

Instead of  turning to prescription medications to keep his hormones balanced and under control, his doctor recommended that he takes up farming.  Getting In most cases, the chemical adjustments simply mask the issue and does not actually put stress hormones under control.

He and his brother Ericson acquired a one-hectare farm in no time and ventured  into a farming project..  Emerson and his extended family cultivated the farm and planted crops on spare time to de-stress.  Emerson found the time spent in nature planting and harvesting organically-grown food beneficial that they benchmarked with other farmers and sought the help of farming experts from the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) to train them on growing vegetation suited for the land they toil.




Today,  Terra Verde EcoFarm sits across  15 hectares farm land  of lush green garden  waiting to be explored.  They have opened up the peaceful family hideaway to the public recently to inspire other.  Moreover, Terra Verde EcoFarm is now an ATI learning site, where aspiring farmers and organic agriculture enthusiast can learn more about best practices in organic farming.


Mr Emerson Atanacio shared the 3 E's in their organic agriculture advocacy--- Entertainment through agri-tourism,  Education and Enterprise development.

The Atanacio's are pushing farmers to gear toward Agri-Tourism to augment their income.  By inviting the public onto any agricultural, horticultural or agribusiness  to experience the outdoors, the farm owner generates supplemental income.




Their homegrown vegetation is based on the  'Bahay Kubo' concept as they grow all the vegetables and fruits mentioned in the local song  Terra Verde produces legumes, fruits, vines, plus herbs which they incorporate in the food they serve at the farm.  And the Atanacio family  helps educate the visitors and would-be farmer to  commercially produce pesticide-free food.

They teach them the value of organic farming and encourage Enterprise Development in effect, as  there is a high demand for organic produce nowadays.






Outdoor recreations like fishing,  horseback riding and fruit picking await the visitors at Terra Verde EcoFarm. Guests can spend time exploring the farm trails while learning about flora and fauna. Along the way.  a variety of friendly animals like geese, turkeys,  ponies and guinea pigs makes the farm tour exciting for kids.





Walk and learn about the plants in the ranch  and discover seasonal fruits in their orchard.  After the nature walk kids can play in the rolling grassland for simple, unstructured, and fun. Terra Verde is a conducive play area for everyone to get enough green exercise, and breathe in fresh air!

Remote controlled toys that they rent out offers a fun alternative to spending time outdoors!

There is also a café, where adults can enjoy delicious homemade food or relax as kids roam around.






















Terra Verde EcoFarm is the ideal place for a day out for kids. There is a host of activities you can do to bond over with your family.

For overnight accomodations, they offer “kubins” (kubo-cabins)  enough to hold 27 persons and offer a camping site with tent rentals good for 60 people.



A children’s play area and a zip line is on its way soon according to the  management as they gear their efforts towards the promotion of Maragondon tourism.

Check out facebook.com/TerraVerdeEcofarmandResort  for more updates.


Terra Verde
Km. 89, Alfonso-Maragondon Road
Pantihan 2 Maragondon, Cavite
09175223637



Sunday, October 23, 2016

Securing a Child's Future through Education



All parents dream of a bright future for their children. Hence, they select the best teaching method when it comes to educating their children. This was the main spirit of the sixth annual Philippine Himeschool conference Expo (PHC) held at the SMX Convention Center, SM Aura.

With the theme "From Roots to Wings", PHC hopes to nourish the firm foundation that they have with parents by continuing to equip them with knowledge and virtues that would help them soar together. The event gathered some of the country's experts on homeschooling to share their insights on the importance of homeschooling.






Homeschooled by their parents, Edric and Joy Mendoza shared that their main reason for homeschooling is  to raise up their children to love, know, serve, and follow God.  While  Harvard is a great university, they would rather  raise their children for heaven.  They encourage parents to set their sights on eternity.

Both believe that  teaching should always weigh heavier on the character side rather than the academics. Eric is the President of TMA Homeschool. As a homeschool champion, he is also the founder of the Homeschool Association of the Philippine Islands (HAPI).



Eric Nicdao, District Manager of PhilamLife urged parents tostart planning for their child's financial future. He explained that while there are distinct advantages to homeschooling, it is never without a challenge.

"Education is expensive, but ignorance costs a lot more ", he related. "The cost of of education for homeschooling a child is not expensive as other perceive it to be." This is because homeschooling entails the presence of one of the parents at home, which reduces the family's overall income. With only one breadwinner, it pays off to plan early for the child's education as the cost of college education continues to increase annually.


"As a parent myself, I umderstand the real-life struggles that parents go through to give the best to their children.  It is wise and even necessary to invest in a plan with guaranteed education benefits even if school-going children are quite young.  Plans like this should have the potential to grow and cope adequately with annual tuition fee hikes", Nicdao added.  "A parent and child should not have to guess what the future brings.  There are too many uncertainties already and having something secure allows a family to focus on learning and academic excellence rather than trying to make sure that there is a school they can afford."

To help address these concerns, PhilamLife launched its new education product, Future Scholar.


Future scholar offers guaranteed education benefits and long term growth potential through access to expertly-managed funds.  In this scheme, the educational plan will continue without the need to pay future payments should the payor passes away or suffers from total disability.

PhilamLife's Future Scholar plan guarantees educational benefits and features premium adjustments in times of great need.

Visit www.philamlife.com to know more about Future Scholar.






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