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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Citronella and coffee beans at Mt. Kitanglad Center, Bukidnon

We woke up to a very chilly weather on our 4th Day in Binahon Farm.  We proceeded to our last stop, the Mt. Kitanglad Agri Ecological Techno Demo.

We traveled for about 2 to 3 hours to reach Mt. Kitanglad Farm. It was located uphill and just like in Binahon, the road was not passable to cars.  So we had to leave our vans 1km away. We walked our way to the Techno-Demo Center hauling our luggages behind.

We were lucky that it was not raining  that time.

It turned out to be a very tiring afternoon. I was just thankful that my luggage didn’t concede to the rough terrain it went through.  When we reached Sir Benjamin Maputi's office, manang showed us to our room with bunk beds inside.

I chose the bed that was nearest the door for easy access to kitchen and bathroom, thinking we would be spending the night at Kitanglad.

Once we were settled, our hosts treated us to a sumptuous lunch of Paksiw na Isda, vegetables and brown rice. We finished it with organic passion fruit juice, red bananas and watermelon as desserts.

I realized each of the five farms we visited left us with a specific mark/memory which I would forever associate it with--  For Cervantes Farm it was the edible kangkong and square foot garden.  For Alomah's Farm it’s the tarragon tea and fresh salads. I will always remember Jaya's  for their blue ternate flower. And the carrot cake and that red tree will forever remind me Binahon. And for Kitanglad farm it wasn’t  the food—but rather their Citronella oil.

I guess they are so proud of their Citronella oil—which they supply to Human Nature here in manila—that they just couldn’t resist spraying it all over the place—even near our table where we were eating. I just couldn’t stop myself from asking if it was pure citronella she was spraying, because the food we were eating smelled and almost started to taste like citronella.

The smell stayed on my hair even after I shampooed that night that’s how generous they were in spraying it.

After our lunch, our guide toured us around Kitanglad farm—for two hours at least. Mr. Ben Maputi, the multi awarded owner of Kitanglad farm and Chairman to his barangay took us trekking to the mountains.

The Mt. Kitanglad Agri-Ecological Techno-Demo Center (MKAETDC) is owned jointly by the family of Benjamin Maputi and the Imbayao Multi-Purpose Cooperative, the center conducts regular seminars for farmers, teaching them about sustainable upland farming, diversified agriculture, agroforestry, cattle, duck raising, and abaca production. The center is his own source of living. He teaches the use of organic fertilizers and natural pest control in the farm, to spread awareness of ecological issues to farmers in the area.

Citronella plant

Our tour quickly became a trek upwards Mt. Kitanglad, and we were all catching our breath while trying to grab on to some tree roots to balance ourselves as we climbed the steep terrain. So much for our citronella fueled lunch!

I realized I was out of shape as I was catching my breath. I could feel my pulse and hear my heart pounding as we labored on.

We saw tea trees, beehives, frog ponds, passion fruits, crops, coffee beans, cattle, ducks, a ritual ground! We were told!  (I suddenly remember the movie Green Inferno)  and a giant tree, which seemed straight out of a horror movie.

I just had to have a photo taken near that huge ancient tree. Yup, I was that adventurous,  and after that we got lost for a while but found the right way in 5 minutes.

I was wearing my Huawei TalkBand, so I knew we had taken a lot of steps already. Making things more difficult was that I was only wearing a pair of sneakers throughout the hike! . So during that entire trek, I was not only getting tired but also getting paranoid that I might step on something like a centipede or worse—snakes! It still gives me goosebumps whenever I recall that experience. I was honestly praying the entire time.

We reached the techno demo center at around 5pm or so. We were quite tired and looking forward to getting back to our room and get some rest. But instead we saw our drivers hurrying and running back and forth to fetch our luggages and load them back to the vans.

Everyone was in a hurry to leave the place. When we got to the van, we asked our driver, why they seemed quite agitated and in a hurry to leave.  He just looked at us and gave us a nervous smile.

We never got our answer, even until today.

When we reached the city, we checked in to a hotel and left the morning after for Manila.

As I lay comfortably in bed back in Manila, I felt a warm sense of pride of the things I’ve done during our five-day Organic Farm Tour Adventure organized by Agriculture Training Institute (ATI) Department of Agriculture.

It might seem simple, but if you know me, I couldn’t survive a day without a sip of my favorite lemon Green Tea (that explains the blog name) but I did! For five days I overcame my cravings for those cold cups from GongCha, Chatime etc and was surprisingly satisfied with tarragon tea, organic food, fresh salad, and mountain water.

Second was the realization that I could actually live in the province, without all my digital distractions and instead enjoy the calmness, the cool wind and the slower pace.

I adored the "probinsya life.” Waking up with greens, fruits, trees, and beautiful sunrise made me relax and appreciate things.

Those five days made me think about saving up to buy a small portion of land, leave Manila's traffic and pollution behind and spend the rest of my days quietly.

To know more about Mt. Kitanglad Agri-Ecological Techno-Demo Center
Please contact:

Agriculture Training Institute
ATI Central Office
ATI Bldg. Elliptical Road, Diliman, Quezon City

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