Blogs

Blogging, Farm Tourism

Farm Tourism and its Opportunities for the Ivatan

Batanes is a paradise not only rich in beautiful sceneries but also in agricultural resources. There are ten (10)  islands in total though only three are inhabited namely, Batan, Sabtang and Itbayat. People living in Batanes are called “Ivatan”, while, travelers or people not coming from the province, are called “Ipula.”

 

The hospitality of Ivatans are seen from the time you step foot on their land. They have warm welcoming smiles just like the ones you receive when you’ve come home after such a long time. Just from entering the airport, you will notice how much they treasure their culture and tradition.

 

Being the northernmost part of the country, Ivatans were already equipped to survive disasters brought by natural calamities especially typhoons and storm surges. It’s also known that the durability of the stone houses come from the strength and unity of the Ivatans.

blogpost2_culture2

And every time they call for “bayanihan”, they would just have to blow a shell that would make everyone follow the sound and come to lend a helping hand.

However, as families grew and needs multiplied, majority of the Ivatans chose a better opportunity in the mainland affecting the population, and of course, food production.

 

Even if the main source of income of the Ivatans is agriculture, their food has high cost. There are no rice fields making them buy brought-in rice at Php 68 per kilo. Over the years, wakay (“sweet potato” or “kamote”) has been their staple food since it is the most dependable crop to harvest even if there are typhoons. Still, lesser Ivatans are going into Agriculture, and majority of their rich lands aren’t plowed and nurtured with agricultural produce.

 

But, more and more tourists come in to experience their simple living and learn their traditions through travel and tours. Farm tourism is thus a big opportunity for the Ivatans, to showcase their lands, to promote farming and agriculture to their youth, to lower the food cost, sustain food production and provide food security, and most importantly, to alleviate the farmers’ lives.

blogpost2_bascodemoSurprisingly, some farms are already starting to beautify their lands in preparation for DOT Accreditation. One of them is the Basco Agri-tourism Farm which is located at Brgy. San Joaquin, Basco, Batanes. Their farm is less than 500 sqm, but farmers here were able to maximize the space while practicing organic agriculture for their native crops such as Kasusuhad, Hama, Kutsai and also herbs. In one area, recycled bottles were used to make a seedbed. And in one corner, composting is practiced for vermiculture and other farm wastes.

20171008_170444Aside from that, Mamang Tess Blue Pea Farm, a farm at Charatayan, Brgy. Kayvaluganan, Basco planted with edible blue flowers offers picking for guests.

blogpost2_bluepealinThese flowers are called Blue Butterfly Pea Lin. The owner, Mrs. Tess Castillejos, makes them into salads, tea and even polvoron!

Along the national highway at Basco, a local government-owned hotel called Batanes Resort, is also practicing farming.

 

Their techniques are quite advanced for they have mulching and also net covers for their plots.

Lastly, in Brgy. Chanarian of Basco, Amboy’s Hometel, has started planting crops around their units. They have eggplant, okra, basil and many more!blogpost2_amboy2

All of these farms have the opportunity to earn in four ways. One, is through selling their produce to the market or to restaurants nearby. Second, is through farm tourism wherein every guest will pay for entrance fee or a certain package that would include an activity (e.g. pick and pay) as assessed by the Department of Tourism. Third, is by being an ATI Learning Site that will teach co-farmers in the area the technology of Organic Agriculture. And lastly, through value adding to their produce making their herbs into teas, wakay or sweet potato into camote cookies, and sooner or later pigs to tapa, longganisa and tocino, so that guests coming in would be able to buy pasalubongs for their loved ones at home.

IMG20171008143940Luckily for the Ivatan farmers, the Municipal Tourism Office has already started efforts in the introduction of farm tourism through the Fun Farms Orientation last October 9, 2017.

 

DOT Accreditation process has been explained and hopefully by 2018, tour packages offered by the travel agencies will include farm tours, farming activities and also, traditions.

 

For travel go to’s, to do’s and must try’s in Batanes, follow the link on my other blog post:

https://agrikulturista.com/2017/10/26/discovering-batan-island-of-batanes/

Leisure & Travel

Discovering Batan Island of Batanes

There may be countless of beautiful sceneries and experiences in Batan Island but here are the most memorable ones that tourists should not skip!

PLACES TO SEE:

3. Stone Houses

For all Ivatan stone houses, the kitchen and comfort room are steps away from the main house for safety and storage purposes. Walls, which are made up of Lime and stones, are one-meter thick.

2. Racuh-a-Payaman (Marlboro Hills)

An astonishing and mesmerizing view that will make guests don’t want to leave anymore! The name “Marlboro Hills” was said to be given by a foreigner when he noticed that it looked like the one in the Marlboro commercial back in the old days. The wind is also very strong, a comb is recommended after.

1. Sunset at Basco Lighthouse

Batan tour would not be complete without a beautiful sunset with a loved one. Climb to the top of the Lighthouse and see the majestic view of the land, sea, and sky.

THINGS TO DO:

3. Have a little chat with Lolo Francisco at House of Dakay

House of Dakay is the oldest stone house that has survived in the town of San Jose de Ivana, Batan Island. But more to the beauty of this traditional house, is the heart of a jolly Ivatan named Lolo Francisco. Spend at least ten minutes with him and hear his stories.

P.S. He’s got a little bit of humor in his pocket as well.

2. Harvest Blue Flowers at Mamang Tess’ Blue Pea Farm

Picking a rose for a special someone is sweet, but picking a handful of blue edible flowers and making it a bouquet is even sweeter!

Tip: Before going home, make sure to air dry the flowers first. It can be made into salad, tea, or even blue rice!

1. Write in a book at San Carlos Borromeo Church

Inside the church is a small room full of blank books written with the past, present and future by travelers from all over the world. Guests can grab a book and write down anything they want, may it be dreams, plans, or simply how one feels being in Batanes.

DISHES TO TRY:

3. Uved

blogpost3_eat3It is a dish made up of grated banana corn mixed with minced ground pork. It’s tastes like meatballs but less on the meat and more on the veggie.

2. Luñis

blogpost3_eat2This is an Ivatan way of adobo through salting and smoking without the soy sauce. A balanced salty-savory taste because of the smoking making customers want to eat more rice.

1. One-day-old Flying Fish

blogpost3_eat1The name states the period of sun-drying the flying fish. The Ivatans collect the sun-dried fish after a day to prolong its shelf life, enhance flavor and enjoy the white, soft flesh. Best served with vinegar for breakfast!

Travel Tips:

For September to December – Wear clothes for the rainy season; bring umbrellas

For January – February – Wear clothes for the cold season; bring umbrellas

For March – August – Wear light clothes; bring umbrellas

Bring drinking water, tissue or wet wipes, alcohol, powerbank, handkerchief, and extra clothes. Wearing high heels is highly discouraged.

Blogging

Official agrikulturista blogger

I’ve been thinking of creating a blog for months already since I’ve been wanting to share what I know and have experienced in farming and in my farm travels. This idea came from a friend who is very passionate about travel photography. After his suggestion that time, I wasn’t able to start immediately because of the limited time and knowledge on writing and expressing. Not that type of woman who posts and shares experiences to the public. But now I’m here.

After my dad, Mr. Ronald Costales, the so-called “Father of Farm Tourism in the Philippines”, died, I was invited to numerous talks about organic farming and farm tourism. I was pretty much exposed to the current situation of the farmers as well everytime we, my mom, brother and I, were invited by the Department of Tourism to talk to different regions in the Philippines and orient the farmers on Farm Tourism. Although I still didn’t start right away. I needed a big push. Something that would ignite the iska in me.

And then Batanes happened. Three days ago, we visited a paradise. But. For that I will have to do another blog. 😊 To cut the long story short, it was what I really needed.

The Philippines is a beautiful agricultural country that we should all love and nourish. That is why I’ve decided to finally start my blogging journey, to inspire the Filipinos, especially my co-millenials and the youth, to be involved in agriculture. Why? Because all of us need food to survive, and if we do not start involving ourselves in food production, in 20 or 30 years the next generations will suffer severely. The average age of the farmers is 55. Sooner or later, they’ll have to rest and no farmer will be left to plow the soil nor sow the seeds nor harvest crops. The only way for food sufficiency and security is farming. And farm tourism is one way of involving the Filipinos. It is also a way of alleviating the lives of the farmers through their additional income.

I already have a three years old daughter and a two-days old nephew. I fear of the image of them starving that is why I’m here. And I’m very much excited to share to all of you the fun we’re having at the farm. Follow and share more of my blogs! Who knows, I might give away gift certificates as well. 😉