In our continuing support to Organic Agriculture we head down south, my favorite part of Luzon – Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon). The cold breeze coming the lakes, the mountains, the relaxing color of green all over the provinces, and the friendly people are some of the reasons why I love Calabarzon.
It took us around 4 hours to reach our destination, but I hardly notice the time because I was enjoying the view(after SLEX) during the travel. Bangkong Kahoy Mountain Lodge at Dorlorez, Quezon.
It’s a total of 56 hectare of natural beauty, managed by Mr. Dion Pullan. It is literally located between Mt. Cristobal and the mystical Mt. Banahaw.
The area was legally acquired and titled by Mr. Agapito Lontoc during the 1920s before the area was declared a protected area. Mr. Agapito Lontoc is also considered the first hermit of Mt. Banahaw because he spent most of his time up in the mountains.
Trivia: During the Marcos regime, there was actually a plan to have a cable car installed at Mt. Banahaw.
This is just a glimpse of what Bangkong Kahoy has to offer.
Nothing like a breath of fresh air and a taste of organic vegetables. We were welcomed with vegetable garden on our plates, and sampinit or wild raspberry.
Fresh raspberries sprinkled with sugar, is just awesome. After eating we went straight to our rooms to fix our things and leave bags because we will have a tour of the place and learn more about organic mushroom farming. We have a majestic view of God’s creation just right our side our door.
We had the chance to get to know Mr. Dion Pullan and Bangkong Kahoy before we started the tour. He mentions that the people don’t want to destroy the forest, but the need to eat forces them to do so. So he decided to creating livelihood projects to help the people of Dolores. It also aims put back the balance in the ecosystem to protect the mountain and biodiversity.
Mushroom farming ain’t easy, that is why the oyster mushrooms we have in our country are are 90% imported from other countries. It took them years of testing practices and procedures to finally be able to improve mushroom farming. It’s now already at 98% seed production without waste. The fruiting bags you see there are all packed manually then cooked for 4 hours and left for 24 hours to cool down.
Here’s how it looks like when it’s already in production.
It’s an amazing sight, seeing how mushrooms sprout and grow. The effort they invest is just worth it, it tastes good too. We had fried mushroom for lunch with mushroom soup too. After the seeing the mushrooms, we toured the rest of the farm and we were overwhelmed with the beauty of the place.
There is also a chapel right in the middle of the valley, and this is where Mr. Dion’s daughter wedding was held. The place is very private and solemn, celebrities can have their wedding done here. We even witnesses a couple having their prenuptial shots taken here.
If you are thirsty for thrill , for only 100 you can try the zip line, but you have to cross the hanging bridge for you to get to your starting point. Instead of booking yourself a room, you just get/bring a tent and sleep with the stars watching over you. We also did some wild raspberry picking, there is plenty for everyone to munch on. It goes directly to my mouth as soon as it’s picked.
The raspberry tasting didn’t end there. After touring the farm we were served delicious snacks made from the same fruits. We had caramelized kamote, fried taro, and raspberry shake. As if we didn’t have enough raspberry during the tour.
At night, you will see a lot of stars and probably even planets if you have telescope with you. It’s perfect for stargazers and astronomy enthusiasts like my brother-in-law. He plans to go to Bangkong Kahoy with is fellow enthusiasts with their huge telescopes to visit the stars.
Pardon my photo as it is very hard to take photo of the night sky, specially if you don’t know how (just being honest). It’s out of focus, blurry and grainy. Well, at least you get the idea of the sky would look like in a very dark area.
Other than the site, the experience, and the fresh air, it’s the food that I will really miss in this place. So before heading home I went vegetable shopping and brought some home for my family to taste. I bought, radish, sayote, chinese cabbage, wild honey, and of course oyster mushrooms. The organic oyster mushroom costs around Php800/kilo in the market, but we got it for Php200/kilo.
Organic farming should be the only way to farm, no buts, no ifs. It may be difficult to adjust to at first, but that’s normal. There are a lot of organizations willing to teach farmers and businessmen about organic farming. A lot has already been successful with organic products because there market for it, and it is getting bigger and bigger as we all go back to the basic of healthy living, which is healthy eating. Restaurants now offers dishes from organic produce, even free range chickens and other livestock are becoming in demand.
Bangkong Kahoy Valley is a product of passion, dedication, and charity. You do not only do this for yourself but for others as well. It’ll give others opportunity to have earn and provide healthy food on their plates. We hope that in the future, the next organic agriculture success story is yours.