Photos, videos and stories of town explorations.
I'm already staying in Cubao for more than one month now. This has already breached the record—my longest stay in Metro Manila was my 4-week hospital internship in various hospitals way back in college.

✈ If I could survive the challenging chaos of Manila, then I would be able to survive living anywhere else in the world, an ultimate dream for the outgoing Ilocano in me.

✈ It's a city exploration thing. I love the new things I'm learning here, significantly different from the place where I grew up.


[Quezon City, National Capital Region, Luzon Island, Philippines]
Cubao, Quezon City

I'm considering leaving Cubao now but this area created some sparks. Now I'm interested to explore and discover more the heartbeat and lifeblood of Cubao. Indeed, there's no 'bad' destination. All you have to do is to unveil the beauty of it. It's a city exploration thing. I love the new things I'm learning here, significantly different from the place where I grew up.

As I left my millennial lifestyle, of being self-entitled, selfish, self-centered but "palamunin ng magulang", I'm now embracing independence, a concept my mom used to frown because she never wanted me go away from home (except for her dream of me to work abroad, it's ironic). But I'm growing older, still a millennial technically but I would like to consider living the old school independence. I think Manila is a nice training ground. If I could survive the challenging chaos of Manila, then I would be able to survive living anywhere else in the world, an ultimate dream for the outgoing Ilocano in me.

Cubao, Quezon City
[QUEZON CITY] ► TRICYCLE QUEUE AT MONTREAL STREET

I'm already staying in Cubao for more than one month now. This has already breached the record—my longest stay in Metro Manila was my 4-week hospital internship in various hospitals way back in college. It was required after all. After that, I've never attempted to stay longer. I only used Manila usually as transit point. I've already played a tourist role in Manila though but never did I stay here as a tourist for more than 3 days. I didn't like staying here for long. I got stressed and I hated the rush.

Anyway, I've already mastered how to commute using a trike here in Cubao. Basically, it' a 24-hour service—for the trike terminal near the Nepa Q-Mart at least. Each street that crosses the Aurora Boulevard to the Araneta Center has its own TODA (an organized group of trike drivers and operators). The trike queue is just located at the corner of every street with Aurora Blvd as the reference point. There is also another one at the corner of New York Avenue and Montreal Street.

Cubao, Quezon City
[QUEZON CITY] ► RIDING A TRIKE AT 03:30 AM ON MY WAY TO AURORA BOULEVARD (HAVE YOU WONDERED WHY I'M TRAVELING THIS EARLY?)
Cubao, Quezon City
[QUEZON CITY] ► TYPICAL INTERIOR OF A WHITE CUBAO TRIKE

Public utility trikes in Cubao are usually painted in white (these are the legit ones). There are also some painted with other colors like red, yellow or green but I think these are either colorum or from a smaller TODA.

If you want the more trustworthy ones, pick the white trikes because they're the established operators with franchise number posted on its body. However, I don't want to assure everyone that all trikes are trustworthy. I also do not want to ignore the fact that not all trike drivers of smaller TODAs are not trustworthy. In every rule, there's always an exception. Always apply your Manila hypervigilance with street smartness.

Cubao, Quezon City
[QUEZON CITY] ► A TYPICAL WHITE TRIKE OF CUBAO

Trike fare is 17 pesos if you picked a tricycle that's in queue. If you waved for a moving tricycle then it stops to pick you, then pay only 10 pesos. Schedule of fares are applicable within Cubao area. If you are already familiar in the every corner of Cubao, then tricycle is a cheap way to move around. Taxicabs may be convenient but expensive. Tricycles are cheaper and more fun. So far, these are my initial stories for Cubao. I won't promise I can do more because I've already said many promises to write but until now I never fulfilled them. However, I hope I could write more about Cubao because there are just so many stories I want to tell here. | end |



Map Showing the Location of Quezon City

MAP OF QUEZON CITY, METRO MANILA
► FOOTNOTES, DISCLAIMERS, ACKNOWLEDGMENT, ETC

✈ This post was filed under the category "Travel Diaries." See more posts related to this below.

✈ The maps I used on this post are from maps.google.com.ph.

✈ All photos are mine.

✈ The insights, condition, and name of places or properties I mentioned here are based on the facts and situation on the day of my visit. Take note that you may have a different experience when you try or see the properties or places mentioned here. Names of places and properties may also change by time so it's not my responsibility to update all the information on this blog because once published, I already consider it an archive and I won't update my narratives because I want them to become my references of what have happened in the past. I'm very particular of the dates because I want my amazing readers to understand that I am writing stories based on my perspective and insights on the day of my visit. You can see dates almost everywhere on this blog. Exempted from this rule are my travel guide posts that need to be updated.

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NAGUSTUAM DIAY NABASAM/NAKITAM? MABALIN MO MET I-LIKE.
Photos, videos and stories of town explorations.
Being a person is an indispensable condition for success in the modern world. Because strong, interesting, creative and charismatic people can now succeed. How to develop these qualities in itself? How to become a person?

► Every day we communicate with family and friends, with classmates, comrades, teachers and with completely unfamiliar.

► The way we treat others around us, to a certain extent, depends on whether we are happy or not. The man also needs essential spiritual warmth, understanding, respect, love.

Unfortunately, for many reasons, not everyone has them. It often happens that people concerned and interested in affairs, problems of one person. And anyone is interested in the fate of other people, their affairs, nobody cares for them. And such students often call any writing essay service for assistance.

Throughout your life, you have the opportunity to grow and develop. You can do almost everything you want, be what you want. 

A few writing tips on how to continue your personal development. Take responsibility for your life and your growth, nobody else can do it for you. What you do today determines what will happen to you tomorrow.

  • Every day, find time to do something for your development.
  • Periodically attend some courses and do not miss classes. The new environment and information give impetus to change and better performance of writing paper.
  • Read books or listen to audio records on personal growth. Let it be at least one book per month.
  • Do not look back - you can control your actions only at this moment. Ask yourself what should I do right now?
  • Try to learn more about the experience of other people than to try to master everything on their own. This significantly reduces the time of training.
  • Solving problems will help you find patience and strengthen your mental ability, it is a useful intellectual exercise.
  • Analyze, rather than judge yourself and others for mistakes made. This will help avoid repeating them in the future.
  • Reward you every time you achieve something in your work on important goals.
  • Never say that something can not be done or will not be completed. Continue to look for ways to implement.
  • For any object of acquisition experience, whether reading, reviewing something, thinking or attending events, apply an approach: understand, develop an attitude and apply, if possible.
  • Eliminate your life things and habits that waste your time in vain.
  • Be open to everything that offers you life, and try to find it.
  • Determine what you really want to get and achieve it even with the writing help of somebody.
  • Find the like-minded people with whom you could openly discuss your ideas and problems.
  • Work for yourself as a resource for others. Think about what you can do for others. Everything you get corresponds to what you give.
  • Work on the balance of your life goals: business, family, finance, spiritual goals, entertainments.
  • Always keep your goals in focus when you do something new.
  • Do not be afraid of failure in the performance of any business. You will learn this lesson.
  • The most complex projects are at the same time the maximum opportunities for revealing your abilities.
  • Add pictures depicting your dreams and goals where you might see them quite often. They will serve as reminders and support, focusing on goals and visualizing them.
  • Find one or more imitation patterns. Analyze their lifestyle and behaviour. Do not copy them, but try to learn from their experience.

To become an individual, everyone needs to carefully peer in and in life. It is very important to educate the unity of words and deeds, not to forget that any situation is a kind of school of behaviour in life. | end |


► FOOTNOTES, DISCLAIMERS, ACKNOWLEDGMENT, ETC

✈ This is a guest post. For partnership with my blog, including but not limited to brand ambassadorship, advertising, paid postings, and sponsorship, contact me at edmaration@gmail.com.

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People travel for different reasons. Some want to be in the mainstream and visit popular sights; some are fans of architecture so they travel the world to quench their thirst for contemplating beautiful buildings.

► Some want to get acquainted with new cultures or practice the languages.

► Some travel for food, that is, for new gastronomical experiences.

[Guest Posts]


However, almost always food and travel go hand in hand, and every tourist has food-tasting on their to-do list. Once you get tired of exploring a new city, it’s time to relax and refresh yourself in a local restaurant. If you think that European cuisine can’t surprise you, you are gravely mistaken. It can even shock you. Try the following dishes during your next trip around Europe. If you have a nerve. This list was prepared by the experts of the site bridesdating.com

Frog Legs (France)
This dainty comes in different degrees of doneness and variations. You can order slightly grilled or deeply roasted frog legs or frog legs pasta. They taste very much like chicken. French ate frog legs during the Hundreds’ Year War when there was a critical shortage of food. Today, many consider it a worthy food for traveling to France.

Schwarzsauer (Germany)
Schwarzsauer is a German blood soup made from pig blood, goose giblets, onions, and vinegar dressed with cinnamon, clove, pepper and other spices. It was a very popular dish during the post-war period due to its cheap ingredients. Today, the black soup is a kind of specialty in restaurants. In terms of energy value, it’s wonderful: one serving contains the daily portion of protein. Though, its strong “flavor” is far from pleasant.

Arroz de Cabidela (Portugal)
Arroz de Cabidela stands out from other blood dishes. Goose giblets are marinated in the vinegar and blood sauce. The Portuguese traditionally cook giblets-containing dishes they had to cook due to famine. Today, instead of giblets, rabbit or chicken meat is used.

Haggis (Scotland)
This traditional Scottish dish should definitely be on this list. Huggis is a meat pudding made from the minced sheep’s liver, heart and lungs mixed with oatmeal and beef meat, dressed with cayenne pepper, onions and salt. It’s served with mashed potatoes or turnips and oatmeal bread. The dish should be complemented with a glass of Scotch whiskey.

Creier Pane (Romania)
When in Romania, eat what the locals eat. For example, Creier Pane. This is a dish of crumbed brains. Pig or calf brains are crumbed and then fried. They are served with fried potatoes or vegetables.

Angulas Baby Eels (Spain)
The weak-nerved may feel unwell even looking at this dish. It’s a small snack that consists of bread, spread and the maggots of freshwater eel called angulas. This delicacy is also called “spaghetti with eyes”. It’s a quite popular dish not only in Spain, but also in England and France. Baby eels are stewed in olive oil with garlic and chili pepper. Angulas are not easy to catch, so you can be served a fake dish made from fish.

Hákarl (Iceland)
Hákarl is definitely for the bravest. This is the jerked shark meat. Raw shark meat is extremely toxic, as their blood contains urea and ammonium. But the locals know how to prepare it right. A disemboweled shark is buried in a pit and left there for several months. Then the bulk is unearthed and left to dry out for a few more months. If you manage to taste it (it smells really bad), it may turn out to be the food worth traveling for.

Casu Marzu (Italy, Sardinia)
In 2010, this “grubby cheese” was recognized as national heritage, although there is a ban on selling Casu Marzu in Italy. The cheese contains the maggots of cheese fly. Some gourmets consider it to be delicious. Casu marzu means rotten cheese. It’s made from the Sardinian cheese pecorino which is brought to putrefaction by the maggots. | end |

► FOOTNOTES, DISCLAIMERS, ACKNOWLEDGMENT, ETC

✈ This is a paid guest post. For partnership with my blog, contact me at edmaration@gmail.com.

✈ Graphics provided by client.

✈ Contents of this post does not reflect the thoughts, opinion, ideas and perspective of this blog and its author.

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Getting closer, mountains spoke to my heart. They didn't need words to communicate. Everything was non-verbal. It was a connection of the human soul and nature that oftentimes, leave you speechless.

► The east hosts mountains not well-visited by Ilocanos—except maybe for the mountainside villagers.

► With four motorbikes and eight souls, it was a family convoy.


[Santo Domingo, Ilocos Sur Province, Ilocos Region, Luzon Island, Philippines]
▼ COVER PHOTO▼ FACEBOOK▼ TWITTER▼ YOUTUBE
STO DOMINGO, ILOCOS SUR




This was a day I would like to consider precious. It was a golden opportunity to dive the depth of our family relationship. We know ourselves as much as we know our family. With my two brothers, my two uncles, my aunt, two cousins and our guide who happened to be my aunt's good old friend, we left our home in ▼ #VIGAN
and rode our motorbikes all the way to the municipality of Santo Domingo, Ilocos Sur.

► Mom's Rituals: She Won't Let Her Boys Go...


[SANTO DOMINGO] ► THIS IS MY FAMILY: TWO BROTHERS, TWO COUSINS, AND MY AUNT (MOM'S YOUNGEST SISTER).

LAO-INGEN, SANTO DOMINGO, ILOCOS SUR

My subheading has spoken—my mom won't let us go. No, not the other members of the family but her three boys—that would be me and my two brothers. Everytime her three handsome boys go out for an adventure with their motorbikes, she would start the nag and she'd not let us leave the house. Well, we know her reason.

My mom's afraid something might happen. However, this has been a ritual everytime and we know we'd undergo this stage before we leave home. We've been used to it. We no longer complain and it's been a part of the process for us. We love our mom and we know her pre-adventure acts are a display of love for us. We make her feel calm by assuring we'll be alright.

After the nagging of love we consider as Stage 1, my mom would perform her role on Stage 2. She would double check our helmet if we brought it with us. She would remind us to keep our money deep in our pocket so that we'd have something to use during emergency. She'd refill an empty bottle of water for our journey and makes it sure she'd be along the road as she watches us disappear from her sight. That's my mom and we understand her motherly rituals.

► Vigan-Santo Domingo Ride

[SANTO DOMINGO] ► COUNTRY ROAD, TAKE ME HOME... TO THE PLACE... I BELONG.

LAO-INGEN, SANTO DOMINGO, ILOCOS SUR

With four motorbikes and eight souls, it was a family convoy. We started the ride at 09:00 AM without breakfast but with faith. There'd be ▼ TREKKING
. We'd climb a ▼ MOUNTAIN
. This family may have gone wrong. We knew we weren't physically prepared—my fault. It was an ineffective coordination on my part. We rushed knowing that the guide was already waiting for us that day. With a whoosh, no taking a bath, no time for contemplation, we took a pill of courage and we pushed the adventure. 09:00 AM was already late. The guide may have been waiting since 07:00 AM. I felt sorry.

We reached the municipality of Santo Domingo after around thirty minutes. We had no food prepared so we searched for a carinderia to buy food for our lunch. There were several carinderias at the commercial space of the Santo Domingo coliseum so it saved us. I know myself. It would be hard for me to climb a mountain without breakfast so I purchased a supply of glucose.

I informed our guide about our arrival and after a while, she came to the place where we stopped. The guide was ate Marygane Padron. We simply call her "Gane" by the way. She's my aunt's old friend. When they were still in high school, I used to see her in our family house together with some of their friends in their circle.

Ate Gane was very ready. She brought her own motorbike—the fifth unit in our convoy. She had a toolbox attached to her motorcycle. She was fit and looked vibrant. Her spirit of adventure was contagious.

We took the road that led us to the mountainsides of Santo Domingo. This was fun. It was fun. I never did this before. I've only explored the poblacion and the coastline of the town so exploring its wilderness was an opportunity for me that I didn't want to let go. In Ilocos Sur, Santo Domingo is never known (or less known at least) for its mountains. Most Ilocanos would never associate Santo Domingo with mountains so I was thrilled to see the other face of the town.

[SANTO DOMINGO] ► WHEN THE GRASS IS GREEN AND THE SKY IS BLUE, MY LOVE WOULD BE RED TO PAINT A RAINBOW OF HOPE IN YOU.

Lao-ingen, Sto Domingo, Ilocos Sur

[SANTO DOMINGO] ► WHEN THERE'S A ROAD, THERE'S A DESTINATION.

Lao-ingen, Sto Domingo, Ilocos Sur

[SANTO DOMINGO] ► THE ILOCOS MOUNTAIN RANGE OVERLOOKED WITH MYSTICISM AND SILENCE.

LAO-INGEN, SANTO DOMINGO, ILOCOS SUR

[SANTO DOMINGO] ► CITIES ARE GREAT; BUT MOUNTAINS ARE GREATER.

LAO-INGEN, SANTO DOMINGO, ILOCOS SUR


It was getting late that weekend yet it was too early to tell if we could survive the adventure. However, I was positive that we would.

We convoyed from the town center eastward. In Ilocos Sur, both the east and the west have distinct faces. The east hosts mountains not well-visited by Ilocanos—except maybe for the mountainside villagers. The west is more popular because it's more accessible. In Santo Domingo, the same is a ▼ BEACH DESTINATION
[Santo Domingo] ► Ilocos Sur: Sunset at Puerto Beach

The afternoon delight was in this beach. Party goers can just sit back and relax or simply dip your feet in the gentle cool waters of the beach.

PUERTO BEACH, SANTO DOMINGO, ILOCOS SUR
.

Moving on, we passed by some barangays I used to visit for my thesis writing back in college as well as for my fieldwork as a campus journalist of the University of Northern Philippines. I remember the name of places like Nalasin, Quinarayan, and Santo Tomas.

However, I knew Binongan even before my college-related visits because I also used to join my mom in her church ministry as she shared the Words of God to the villagers of Binongan—the barrio before Lao-ingen. I still remember the people who sold a sack of charcoal to us and I even witnessed for myself how they made it.

The road was good and there were some improvements along the way. Somewhere in, or near, Binongan was a fork. We turned left for Lao-ingen and followed the road that ran alongside with the creek. The road at the right goes all the way to Nagbettedan. Both Lao-ingen and Nagbettedan are barangays located at the foot of the Ilocos Mountain Range and the road that split into two directions would end into them.

As we drove farther from the poblacion of the town, the mountains got nearer (and bigger). From the highway, they're a silent roadside display from afar and most of the time, their view are obstructed by roadside structures. Getting closer, mountains spoke to my heart. They didn't need words to communicate. Everything was non-verbal. It was a connection of the human soul and nature that oftentimes, leave you speechless.

► Reaching the Last Sitio of Brgy Lao-Ingen

[SANTO DOMINGO] ► THE END OF EVERY JOURNEY IS THE START OF ANOTHER JOURNEY. WE JUST REACHED OUR BASE.

LAO-INGEN, SANTO DOMINGO, ILOCOS SUR

As our convoy reached the last village, the road reached its last segment too. The last segment of the pavement was laid over a piece of land where the populace dwells. Big smile from unfamiliar and random people would erase the stranger in us. They looked at us passionately as if we were important visitors. The small village knew who were the outsiders. I knew that they knew we were.

Beyond the pavement were open green spaces and a river that twirled to the valley. We were very near the mountains. Farther was a nature reserve devoid of human settlement and traditional comfort.

"Come in.", said by an unfamiliar face. Our guide Gane contacted her relatives in this village to oversee our motorbikes. We entered a property fenced with barbwires. Inside it was a mango tree and we put our motorbikes under it.

[SANTO DOMINGO] ► MY TWO COUSINS HAPPILY REACHED THE LAST SITIO OF LAO-INGEN.

LAO-INGEN, SANTO DOMINGO, ILOCOS SUR

Where are we going next? Will this family be united as one? Shall we survive the adventure waiting for us? Shall we quit as one or shall we divide the group and leave the quitters? The mountain was waving. We were nine in the group. Only three of us have previous mountain trekking experience at least once. The rest, neophytes. I hoped for an easy trail but how would I know? No turning back. Lord, take care of my family.

By the way, we're not gonna summit a mountain but we need trekking. Where are we going? What's our purpose? | To be continued... |

×

BLOGSERYE 005

UNMASKING THE SECRETS OF THE EAST

Episode 02

Coming Next: We were nine in the group but only three have enough trekking experience to climb a mountain. Will the other six survive or quit? By the way, we're not gonna summit a mountain; but we need trekking. Where are we going? What's our purpose?

Episode 03

Soon!

Episode 04

Soon!

◄ Blogserye 004 | 005 | Blogserye 06 ► (Soon)

CLICK OR TAP GREEN BUTTON ABOVE TO FOLLOW THIS SERIES


Map Showing the Location of #SantoDomingo

MAP OF SANTO DOMINGO, ILOCOS SUR
► FOOTNOTES, DISCLAIMERS, ACKNOWLEDGMENT, ETC

✈ I would like to thank Ms Mary Gane Padron forguiding us in this trip. She's from Santo Domingo, Ilocos Sur too.

✈ This post was filed under the category "Motorcycle Diaries." See more posts related to this below.

✈ The maps I used on this post are from maps.google.com.ph.

✈ All photos are mine.

✈ The insights, condition, and name of places or properties I mentioned here are based on the facts and situation on the day of my visit. Take note that you may have a different experience when you try or see the properties or places mentioned here. Names of places and properties may also change by time so it's not my responsibility to update all the information on this blog because once published, I already consider it an archive and I won't update my narratives because I want them to become my references of what have happened in the past. I'm very particular of the dates because I want my amazing readers to understand that I am writing stories based on my perspective and insights on the day of my visit. You can see dates almost everywhere on this blog. Exempted from this rule are my travel guide posts that need to be updated.
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'GDME Fruits and Vegetables' leads PH highland farmers to global market.

✈ The province of Benguet has been making a mark in the international market as a sourcing hub for premium agricultural products, such as fruits, vegetables, coffee, and other highland crops.

✈ With more than half of its residents or 100,000 farmers toiling on more than 30,000-hectare farms scattered in vegetable-producing towns, Benguet is living up to its moniker as the “Salad Bowl of the Philippines.”


[Benguet Province, Cordillera Region, Luzon Island, Philippines]
MANILA FAME
| 1 | [KIBUNGAN] ► MARICEL HERNAEZ, OWNER OF GDME FRUITS AND VEGETABLES TRADING
The province of Benguet has been making a mark in the international market as a sourcing hub for premium agricultural products, such as fruits, vegetables, coffee, and other highland crops.

With more than half of its residents or 100,000 farmers toiling on more than 30,000-hectare farms scattered in vegetable-producing towns, Benguet is living up to its moniker as the “Salad Bowl of the Philippines.”

But the farmers from the province, including most areas in the Cordillera, has yet to realize their full market potential in the lucrative export industry. This difficulty contributes to the economic disadvantage of Cordilleran farmers as the region’s agriculture sector records the least contribution to their economy, despite employing 46 percent of the labor force or 348,000 of its total 766,000 abled bodies.

“The lack of drive from our farmers to export much of it has got to do with their local and limited mindset,” said Maricel Hernaez. “Many of our farmers in the Cordillera are producing crops with the idea of harvesting it only either for their own household consumption or for selling at the local vegetable trading post.”
► Taking Philippine fruits and vegetables from highlands to overseas
A former overseas filipino worker (OFW), Hernaez came back to the Philippines with a dream: to abolish the domestic-centric mindset of the Cordillera farmers and help them penetrate the international market.

KIBUNGAN, BENGUET
| 2 | [KIBUNGAN] ► OVERLOOKING A CARROT AND ROMAINE FIELDS IN ONE OF THE HIGHLAND VEGETABLE TERRACES OF MARIA'S FARM, SITUATED ON OVER 2,000 ABOVE SEA LEVEL IN THE TOWN OF KIBUNGAN.
Born and raised in a farming family in Cordillera, her life-mission sprung during her service as a domestic helper for five years in Singapore, where she has keenly followed the sky-rocketing prices and huge demand for highland fruits and vegetables.

“Grabe ang taas ng presyo ng gulay sa Singapore, for example nalang ‘yung isang malaking patatas minsan umaabot ng two dollars at pati ‘yung cabbage nasa mahigit one dollar ang 250 grams. Dito sa Pilipinas, nasa limang piso lang ang patatas na malalaki at yung cabbage, isang kilo na katumbas ng one dollar mo,” she shared. “Kung produkto lang naman ang paguusapan, competitive ang galing sa Pilipinas pagdating sa laki at kalidad.”

In her last working year as a domestic helper, Hernaez met up with the Philippine Trade and Investment Centre (PTIC) in Singapore to seek guidance on her plan to become a vegetable and fruit exporter. In March 2015, she came back to the Philippines and immediately established her company, GDME Fruits and Vegetables Trading, naming it after her parents: Gilbert Domerez (father) and Mercy Espara (mother).

“My parents who made a living through farming have inspired me to pursue this agenda,” she elated. “They are the foundation of my goal to nurture the country’s agri-export market by tapping the promising farming communities in Cordillera.”
► A Tall Order
Having no land to call her own, Hernaez has been operating GDME Fruits and Vegetable Trading for the past two years as its sole networking, monitoring, and marketing officer for grassroots farmers across the Cordillera region.

KIBUNGAN, BENGUET
| 3 | [KIBUNGAN] ► PATCHES OF SUGARLOAF CABBAGES AT MARI'S FARM
KIBUNGAN, BENGUET
| 4 | [KIBUNGAN] ► FRESH, NEWLY UPROOTED POTATOES
In her networking initiatives with the local farmers, it has always been a challenge for her to explain, innovate, and change some of their farming methods and even their products to suit the demand of the global market.

“Going one by one with the farmers, I always explain that we have the tools to compete with other countries. We are situated at a higher elevation with the perfect soil and climate. Most importantly, our farmers are hard-working,” she stressed. “But, I tell them we should comply with food standards and certifications. I also encourage them to plant the crops that are in-demand because if we plant crops that no one wants to buy then it will just go to waste.”

Without a formal academic background in agriculture, she has always been looking for fresh ideas and new ways on how to improve her technical know-how on the export industry by attending seminars and partnering with government agencies, such as the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

“I never missed opportunities where I can learn new things. Last May, I joined IFEX Philippines, together with our farmers, where we encountered people who are willing to help us grow,” Hernaez said. “We were also glad to meet foreign buyers that are really interested in our fruits and vegetable products.”

MANILA FAME
| 5 | [KIBUNGAN] ► HERNAEZ POINTS TO ONE OF THE FIELDS OF MARIA'S FARM WHERE A VARIETY OF CROPS ARE PLANTED ALL YEAR ROUND. SUCH AS POTATOES, CABBAGES, CARROTS, ROMAINE, AND RADISH.
For instance, in our cabbages, we are cultivating the scorpio F1 hybrid and sugarloaf varieties. When fully grown, these varieties can reach an average net weight of 2 kilograms each, while your regular lowland cabbage varieties only reach 1 kilograms each. Our is twice the size,” she said.

Her partner farmers are also cultivating strawberry, lemon, parsley, cilantro, kale, mint, basil, alfalfa, arugula, red radish, young corn, fennel leaves, and okra.

Fresh, newly uprooted potatoes.They also have some of the iconic Cordillera processed goods, such as sweet and sour chili sauce, strawberry jam, peanut butter, and kimchi.

Hernaez said an exporting farmer will be able to earn at least 15 pesos more per kilo of their harvest. She added: “Some might even go double the price when depending on their reception on our quality and demand.”

“With these many products, we are targeting the demand in Singapore and other nearby ASEAN countries, as well as those in the Middle East,” she added. “We are also open to offers from other buyers across the globe that can be beneficial to the livelihood of our farmers.”
► Cordillera farmers moving forward
While the high elevation augments the harvest, it also makes highland fruits and vegetables prone to risks of climate change, making its price highly volatile.

“We know that there is a demand for our agricultural products, but the next step is how we can corner that demand? With our talks with people that we met on IFEX Philippines, we should be able to do it if we set our fruits and vegetables at stable prices and produce them at a sustainable rate. It’s a challenge for us here in the highland considering the ever-changing weather conditions,” said Hernaez.

Faced with this predicament, Hernaez is trying to hit two birds with one stone in creating a viable year-round crop rotation system: working on identifying the in-demand varieties crops that are a tolerant to extreme weather and are resistant to pests and diseases.

“With this method, we also can minimize the use of synthetic chemicals and inputs, or apply good farming practices which involve the balanced application of organic and chemical inputs,” she explained.

The former OFW also continues to widen her network to increase their agriculture supply and product selection, allowing small-scale farming communities to accommodate bulk orders from foreign buyers.

KIBUNGAN, BENGUET
| 6 | [KIBUNGAN] ► FIFTY-NINE-YEAR OLD FARMER, DOLORES IGME, SHOS THEIR JUMBO-SIZED WINTER MELON OR ASH GOURD. IGME IS ONE OF THE FARMERS SUPPORTED UNDER THE EXPORT INITIATIVE OF GDME FRUITS AND VEGETABLE TRADING.
At the same time, she is helping Cordillera farmers secure the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification—an accreditation promoted by the ASEAN community and is unanimously recognized in the international market.

Out of the 78 GAP-certified farms in the Philippines, only 4 farms are from Cordillera.

According to the Department of Agriculture - Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards (DA-BAFS), GAP Certification ensures that a farm is not only in the quality of his crops, but in all aspects of farming.

The GAP standard requires a scrutiny of the history of the farm site and its prior use; the type of soil, and its compatibility with crops and seed sources; the judicious use of pesticides and fertilizers, whether chemical or organic; the sources of potable water for irrigation and washing of crops; the harvest and post-handling procedures; the health and hygiene of the farmer and handlers, and other factors.

“Gusto kong makita sa mga farmers if they can eat their products raw and fresh, ‘yun na kasi uso din because there are a lot of vegetarians. ‘Yung iba kasi they have a lot of pesticide to the point na hindi na pwede makain kasi maamoy or matapang yung chemicals. At least with GAP [certification], we can be one stop closer to this goal,” she said.

Aside from GAP certifications, GDME Fruits and Vegetable Trading is also working to secure Halal certifications for the community farmers as they are targeting the demand for halal fruits and vegetables in the Middle East, particularly in Dubai and U.A.E.

Though the Philippine National Standards for Halal (PNS 2067: 2008), Halal products are at par with international standards to enhance the competitiveness of local industries, and to ensure product quality and safety for the consumers.

“GDME Fruits and Vegetable Trading is committed to prime Cordilleran farmers to become export-ready in the global market so that they would grow together with the company and the booming Philippine food industry,” she said.

If you are interested on premium fruits and vegetables from the Cordillera, please contact Ms. Maricel Hernaez (Owner of GDME Fruits and Vegetable Trading) at 0950-525-1170 or e-mail her at gdmetrading@gmail.com. | end |



Map Showing the Location of Benguet Province

MAP OF BENGUET
► FOOTNOTES, DISCLAIMERS, ACKNOWLEDGMENT, ETC

✈ This post was filed under the category "People." See more posts related to this below.

✈ The maps I used on this post are from maps.google.com.ph.

✈ All photos are mine.

✈ The insights, condition, and name of places or properties I mentioned here are based on the facts and situation on the day of my visit. Take note that you may have a different experience when you try or see the properties or places mentioned here. Names of places and properties may also change by time so it's not my responsibility to update all the information on this blog because once published, I already consider it an archive and I won't update my narratives because I want them to become my references of what have happened in the past. I'm very particular of the dates because I want my amazing readers to understand that I am writing stories based on my perspective and insights on the day of my visit. You can see dates almost everywhere on this blog. Exempted from this rule are my travel guide posts that need to be updated.

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