One of the things I love about being a blogger is getting the chance to discover new places. Places that you wouldn’t usually consider as a destination but turn out to be such an awesome surprise.
I was introduced to one such place a couple of weeks ago as I joined a group of media people for the inauguration of Goldilocks Kabuhayan Bakery.
At first I thought it was just going to be one of those ribbon cutting events with a few speeches, but thanks to our host Lydia Vivero of Agents Intl. PR, it turned out to be one of those short but very memorable trips.
The town of Lobo is a Third Class municipality in the Province of Batangas. It lies at the southwestern coast of the province with Batangas City on the West, the municipalities of Taysan and Rosario on the North, San Juan on the East and the Verde Island Passage on the South.
Lobo is composed of 26 barangays, 9 of which are coastal, ten are hilly and mountainous and the rests are built-up.
The municipality has a total population of 38,908 of which 13,427 belong to urban area and 25,481 belong to rural area.
The economic activities of Lobo include agriculture, trade, manufacturing and mining.
While not as popular as the other towns, Lobo is actually one of the tourist destinations in the province of Batangas. The coast lines of Fabrica, Masaguitsit, Olo-Olo, Malabrigo, Soloc and Sawang become haven for scuba divers, surfers, tourists, foreigners and Filipinos alike who want to unwind and get away from the suffocating heat and dust of Manila.
For this trip, we got to visit the Mangrove Forest Farm which consists of living corals near the shore and has been acknowledged to be a fish sanctuary and The Verde Island Passage (VIP) which we later found out was a very important place for the residents.
We met up one very early Monday morning at the Goldilocks Cake plant located in Shaw Blvd. Our itinerary included a lot of activities so I decided to pack light but readied a couple of swim suits since we were told that we were going snorkeling.
It was a four hour drive from Manila to Lobo and we directly proceeded to our first stop—the Mangrove Forest. We took a boat ride for half an hour and stopped at a nearby shore. Although I was still feeling a bit sleepy, the beauty of the place was like a strong cup of espresso that instantaneously woke me up from my sluggish state.
I never saw so many colorful fishes, corals and beautiful reefs. The water was shallow at the time we snorkeled so even though Im not much of a swimmer it was easier for me to swim around and explore the place.
We only had a half hour or so as we needed to get back and get ready for lunch. Having lunch in an open area surrounded by huge trees, fresh air and nature was a welcome change from eating at the indoor restos in the city and made us even hungrier. We had vegetable salad, organic rice, chicken and natural fruit juice prepared by our host from Mangrove Forest.
After lunch at the Mangrove Forest Farm tour, we went to Masaguitsit-Banalo High School to attend to the unveiling of the bronze marker and launch of Kabuhayan Bakery.
According to the speaker, the Verde Island Passage or VIP is said to have highest concentration of shorefish species in the world. This area, which is famous worldwide as the “Center of Global Shorefish Biodiversity,” is, unfortunately, in grave danger due to excessive mining.
Most of the residents in the surrounding barangays get their livelihood from small-scale mining and they gravitate towards said trade due to lack of other viable livelihood options.
This is one of the reasons why the Goldilocks Foundation, in partnership with ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation Inc.’s (ALKFIs) Bantay Kalikasan and the Nutrition Center of the Philippines, decided to help the residents put up the the first fully-functional Kabuhayan Bakery. It was built so the local populace will have an alternative means of livelihood and reduce their dependence in mining.
The bakery, located in Masaguitsit-Banalo High School, is the first of many planned for other locales around the VIP. It has already hired and trained locals, mostly students, to operate the bakery. Aside from a steady wage, each employee is getting some much needed experience and training so that they may operate and manage their own bakeries someday. They are taught how to bake the bread and how to run the business from a managerial perspective.
Goldilocks, the country’s number one bakeshop, intended to make the Kabuhayan Bakeshop an integral part of its Foundation’s advocacy. “Through the Kabuhayan Bakery project, we hope that lesser people around the VIP pursue other livelihood options,” Goldilocks Marketing Director Cherry Caluya said. “Keeping the populace from mining will definitely help in the conservation of the area,” she concluded.
The Kabuhayan Bakery will cater to the various bread and pastry needs of the private and public schools within Lobo, Batangas as well as the residents in nearby areas. This will also eventually offer cakes and other bakery items through the assistance and training that will be provided by Goldilocks Foundation.
Honda Philippines, one of the program’s major partners, also helped in delivering the baked goods to its customers. Honda donated a motorcycle so the bakery’s products may be transported around the city.
At the launch, attendees and participants were given the opportunity to see and experience what the program aims to preserve. The guests were toured through the VIP where they went snorkeling, they also visited the areas mangroves, planted seedlings at an organic farm, and marvelled at the beauty of Lobo through the lighthouse. We spent the night at Punta Verde Resort.