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Friday, September 7, 2012

Organic Agriculture Part 2: Costales Organic Farm

Healthy plants here . . . and well-fed animals there . . . Organic produce everywhere.  All in Mang Ronald Costales' Farm. OA, OA, Oh!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Organic Farming Advocacy: Grow, Buy, and Trade Locally

Health, Garbage, Food Supply, Flooding,,and Livelihood..These are the main problems that can be addressed by Organic Agriculture or OA.  Organic Agriculture is an advocacy that Department of Agriculture, SOAP or Spread Organic Agriculture in the Philippines and  Costales Farms in Laguna  advocate to help in the health and economic problems of the country.

Niet Arceo, speaker from the Agri-training Institute and Costales Farm owner, Ronald Costales, invited some bloggers to help in the dissemination of this advocacy.  We were invited to stay overnight for a tour and a lecture on the concept of Organic Farming and its many benefits. 

“Consumers must demand Organic Agricultural products to help the industry sustain this healthy, economically-helpful and environment-friendly effort,”  states Arceo as she began the lecture on Organic Farming  for the blogger guests.  She introduced Mr, Costales, who gave the next lecture, followed by members of SOAP. Two SOAP representatives, former corporate workers-turned-farmers, shared their experience and motives in being part of this organization.
“You don’t need to have acres of land to start a farm, even a small garden plot would do for a start,”  explained Ronald Costales, farmer, scientist, and Organic Agriculture advocate.   He shared to his blogger guests how he started his farm, the process of organic farming in his 5-hectare property, and how his children help in running the farm.  Most  of them graduated with courses related to Agriculture.  In tandem with OA, he also endorses “Zero Waste Farming.”, wherein garbage from the kitchen is utilized as fertilizer.  They did admit that a lot of effort was needed initially to get started, but it’s all worth the effort in the end.   

Basically, this is I what I gathered from the lecture: 
  • First it takes years to heal soil or help it regain its original nutrient-rich condition so plants will flourish.    For anyone who wants to start their own organic farm, you need to make sure your soil is healthy. If it is not, then you have to enrich it with compost, which involves mixing it with smelly, rotting garbage coming from the kitchen.  That is why it is important to segregate, so you can make use of rotting garbage as your soil enricher.
  • Another form of soil enricher is animal droppings, especially rabbit droppings that is rich in nitrogen.
  • When earthworms or other worms start to appear then that is a good sign your soil is getting rich.
  • After you plant your seedling or cuttings, then you apply organic pesticides on a regular basis.  No need to spend on fertilizers with chemicals but make your own from items you have in the kitchen, like vinegar mixed with water and a little salt.
  • You can also raise chickens, pigs, and rabbits for food as well as their droppings for fertilizer..
Mr. Costales explain that farmers share information with each other freely as they see no point in being competitive.  On the contrary, they need to work together as there are just too many mouths to feed.

The lecture was followed by a tour of the farm while the guests took photos of the beautiful Costales Farm Resort.  The guests were fed with fresh salad greens along with fish and home-raised  chicken and pork.  We were also given freshly squeezed dalandan juice and a fresh concoction of cucumber-tarragon juice.  After every meal, we had spearmint tea alternating with tarragon tea to help in our digestion.  The tea was flavourful and we would drink more than 2 pint-sized cups every time it was offered.

Evening entertainment included a sing-along while we were being served lambanog and finger foods of veggie sticks,  krispy kangkong, French fries, and  freshly-picked arugula leaves.

We got up early the next morning to visit the nearby Taytay Falls, which included a 15 minute trek before reaching our destination.  We tried to capture all the beautiful scenery around us with our cameras before some of us took a dip into the  icy, fresh water of the falls. The whole experience was so refreshing, I feel like I got 80% healthier from inhaling  the fresh Laguna air for more than 24 hours  and from consuming  the organic meals all day..

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Time for your Philippine Adventure . . . More Fun with Great Bargains!

Press Release: PHILTOA Launches the Country's Largest Tourism Expo

If you've ever thought about taking a vacation and exploring the Philippines, now would be the best time to turn that idea into a reality.

It doesn't matter if you want a quiet retreat or a thrilling adventure; whether you're planning your honeymoon or just going out with friends, there is no shortage of options in the upcoming 23rd Philippine Travel Mart (PTM) this coming August 10 to 12 at the SMX convention Center in Pasay City.

Now bigger than ever, the Philippine Travel Mart (PTM)—the longest-running travel trade show in the country—is set to showcase the Philippines in the upcoming Sale ng Bayan. Featuring heritage and eco-adventure tours from all over the Philippines, the 23rd PTM is the result of various familiarization and exploration trips that bring new tour products into the market every year.

The annual event is organized by the Philippine Tour Operators Association (PHILTOA), in cooperation with the Department of Tourism. With almost 250 exhibitors presenting their tour products through colorful pavilions and booths, the Sale ng Bayan will also launch “Philippine Island Fun Caravan Getaways”—joint group tours that cover various locations from all over the Philippines. These 4-day to 8-day tours pool local, balikbayan, and foreign tourists together to avail of special packages that would have otherwise cost a lot of money if done individually. Featured tours include the Batanes-Cagayan Northern-scape, Cordilleras Cultural Weekend Warrior Caravan, Central Visayas Backdoor tour, and the Tuna-T'Boli trail, among others.

“It has always been our goal to outdo ourselves every year,” says PHILTOA President Cesar Cruz, who is also the chairman of the upcoming PTM. “Innovation is key. We've been working closely with tour operators and government agencies alike to offer newer, better products yearly.”

Like most trade shows, the PTM will still feature classic destinations such as Bohol, Boracay, Cebu and Palawan. Also not to be missed are the individual tour packages that have anywhere from 70 to 80% discounted prices, such as “Kulinarya” (Binondo food trip for as low as P648), “Health and Wellness” (Tagaytay Wellness trip for as low as P2900), “Festivals” (Panagbenga trip for as low as P5500), and many more. Aside from the endless array of tour products in the country's biggest gathering of tour operators, the PTM will also provide informative seminars for students dubbed as Byahe-info. Also scheduled is an Eco Chorale Competition, a Folk Dance Competition, and even a Tourism Quiz Bee—ensuring educational activities for everyone in attendance.

It's more fun in the Philippines!


The Philippine Tour Operators Association (PHILTOA), Inc. is a non-stock and non-profit organization of tour operators and allied members actively involved in the advocacy of responsible tourism. The membership includes travel agencies, hotel, resorts, transportation companies, handicraft stores, and other tourism-oriented establishments and associations. For more information on the 23rd Philippine Travel Mart, visit <www.philtoa.org>.


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