Whether it is a weekend break or long getaway that is close to Metro Manila, you might want to try going to Quezon, just a two to three hour drive south of Manila
Just recently, I was one of the bloggers who attended a brief tour by Agricultural Training Institute of the Department of Agriculture to Bangkong Kahoy Valley.
Bangkong Kahoy Valley is situated at the foot of Mt. Banahaw and Mt. Cristobal.
Considering its proximity from Manila, I was surprised how lush the greenery is still in the area, factor in that the area has civilized communities.
A 21 hecatares of the whole baranggay is owned privately and currently managed by Dionisio Pullan.
Dionisio Pullan is a repatriated Filipino who was working in Australia. And it was just recently that he thought of preserving the place and promote organic agriculture in the area.
Pullan said that it was not easy introducing organic agriculture to the farmers around. It is not usual for people to not use chemical fertilizers in the area. This was why, Pullan said, it took a long time to introduce organic agriculture to the farming community in Bangkong Kahoy.
The only time that local farmers got the real “sense” of going back to organics is when the Bangkong Kahoy Valley is reaping the benefits of going organics: better harvest and eco-tourism.
Organic Vegetables and Fruits
Bangkong Kahoy Valley focused more on vegetables and fruits. With its good, cold weather, similar to Benguet, it was never hard to plant and propagate plants in the area. The only question was, what to focus on.
Currently, Bangkong Kahoy Valley is focused on producing cabbages, lettuces, mushroom and raspberry in larger quantities compared to other crops.
During my visit, I saw how they propagate OYSTER MUSHROOM. Pullan noted that there is a high demand for mushrooms in the country. And sadly, 90 percent of the total mushroom consumption in the country is sourced from outside the country. That’s why Bangkkong Kahoy is taking baby steps in producing more mushrooms for more consumers.
Bangkong Kahoy is selling their fresh oyster mushrooms at Php 200 per kilo. While dried mushrooms can cost up to Php 2,000 per kilogram.
Another interesting crop that this Quezon-based organic farm is producing is the raspberry. Raspberries are fruit-bearing shrubs that are similar to strawberries, only, smaller in size.
Before, locals burn the rapberry shrubs because it hurst farmers and crops. The shrub stems have thorns, hurtful to humans, and the roots of the raspberries grow so fast, affecting nearby crops.
However, due to the discovery of the Bangkong Kahoy Valley group, discovered the benefits of the fruit to health and profit. Thus, nowadays, it has become both an attraction as a crop and tourism.
Raspberry costs 600 to 800 pesos per kilo in the market. Farm gate price price in Bangkong Kahoy is at 400 per kilogram.
Their 3-hectare raspberry plantation harvests around 4-tons per season.
Raspberries are rich in vitamin C, antioxidants and phytochemicals.
Bangkong Kahoy Valley Eco-Tourism
One perk of preserving the environment is having a cool, inviting greenery in front of each tourist’s line of sight. And this is what Bangkong Kahoy has developed. All they had to do is to put up few structures for accommodation, dining and tours.
There is a natural source for everything, including water. The water from their faucet is potable, straight from the mountain. Pullan said that the water is alkaline, which is good for the body.
The lush forest sight of Mt. Banahaw can make any tourist feel so one with nature. Plus, the vegetation in the whole area and experiential “farmer” as you pick fruits or vegetables on your own, make the visit just wonderful.
Bangkong Kahoy Valley also offers accommodation at Php 6,000 per night in ways of your choice, if in a concrete room or wooden “native” room that gives a different experience of being out one with nature.
Be reminded that the temperature in the area really drops.
As a whole, the Bangkong Kahoy Valley experience is one for the books.
For more details about Bangkong Kahoy Valley, you can visit their website at http://www.bkmountainlodge.com.ph/