For almost two years of being under the state of pandemic, many workers in the tourism sector suffered loss of job and income but thanks to the official opening of the Department of Tourism (DOT) – accredited farm sites in Cagayan Valley.
This after the department conducted series of monitoring and evaluation on the readiness of each destination which is about 26 and opening of two other new farm sites, Regional Director Fanibeth Domingo said.
Recently, the Manalo – Taguba Ecotourism Park in Angadanan, Isabela owned by Anita Taguba Manalo, played host to the Kulinarya 2021: Farm Food Fun Fest in DOT accredited farm tourism sites which signals the opening of tourism destinations in the region. Other neighboring farm sites attended the event bringing and showcasing with them the best of their food offers for customers.
The eco-farm features a two-hectare garden of various flowering and ornamental plants, different kinds of poultry and livestock and a karaoke house at the center of a fishpond.
It has also a small pool beside a mansion – yeas, a mansion situated at the center of the farm adorned with expensive and decorative ceramics, wines, furniture among others.
A family outing of 15 participants can enjoy an overnight stay at the Mansion for only P20,000 while enjoying all other amenities.
Mommy, as she is fonfly called by friends, said she personally did the interior design of the mansion while her children did the architectural design of the building. She said she didn’t expect to become an owner of a 200-hectare land which she bought one at a time out from her earnings in her business.
Mommy is optimistic that with the opening of the tourism sites, she can provide better live for her workers as she employed more than 50 workers in her eco-tourism park alone.
When you happened to visit her farm, you can enjoy “kilawen” kambing or tupa (sheep) as well as other recipes like “pinapaitan”, kaldereta and dinakdakan plus the delicious adobong pato (duck) grown in their own farm.
For Cagayan, the Caranguian Integrated Farm School located in Baculud, Iguig, Cagayan hosted the second day of the festival where visitors toured the 28-hectares farm planted with high yield varieties of cassava, various species of trees and fruit-bearing trees, bamboo plantation, fishpond, and ricefiled where farmer-students undergoing farm school experience hands-on training.
About 100 farmer-students are enrolled here under the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA), the implementer of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund ( RCEF) under the Modified Farm Field School (FFS) Training Program where this farm is TESDA accredited farm school offering Technical and Vocational Education and Training Courses (TVET).
Inside the farm, you can enjoy their own recipe of cassava cake freshly harvested form the farm and personally prepared by its co-owner Mrs. Leonia Caranguian, a former employee of the Provincial Agriculture Office and the wife of Engr. Lorenzo (fondly called as Sir Ensu) Caranguian, a retired chief from the Department of Agriculture. This is best served with their giant lemon extract with cucumber and honey served chilled or your choice of brewed Arabica coffee.
And while you walk around the mountain of various non-fruit and fruit-bearing trees, take to relax under the bamboo tunnel where bamboos are lined in a row at both ends with their end branches meeting together while fallen leaves are scattered on the ground making it like the season of fall.
And besides the beautiful view is the cool-breeze perfect especially during summer.
Soon, bamboos can produce more bamboo shoots locally called “labong” or “rabong” which is best served as adobo, salad, “rasa” (not crabs) but combination of ra-bong and Sa-luyot (jute leaves).
Just a meter near the bamboo tunnel is a decade spring surrounded by large stoned which according to old folks of Baculud served as the only source of potable water during the Spanish era. Known for its significance in the local history of the barangay, Sir Ensu preserved the natural state of the more or less five meters deep natural spring and now the source of water of a fishpond stocked with tilapia and gourami.
But don’t be shocked when someone, or one goose will play with you as this one and only goose is suspecting that any visitor took her bestfriend – a dog which she is not seeing for a month after the dog gave birth in one of the areas in the farm.
Your visit is not complete when you failed to savor one of its recipes – a carabeef meat boiled for hours and so with cassava fruit making its broth viscous and yummy. It’s near to “laoyang kalabaw” only that it has fresh cassava giving it a tastier soup.
While farm works didn’t stop during the pandemic, Sir Ensu said only limited visitors and guests but with the full opening of the farm, they are expecting more visitors in one of these days.
Dir. Domingo said DOT’s accreditation process is easy as it can be done online and one benefits of being accredited is farm owners/managers can enjoy free trainings, they can be included in the tour package offers and promotions.
She said clients can also ensure that farm sites are safe as they need to pass the safety seal certification for COVID-19.
So the next time you opt for an adventure, consider visiting the different farm sites in the Cagayan Valley. It’s not just connecting with nature but helping the tourism industry workers rise from the impact of the pandemic.
“Come and visit Region 2, your islands and valley of fun,” RD Domingo said. (MDCT/GVB/PIA Cagayan)