“You become responsible, forever, for those you have tamed.” Antoine De St. Exupery, The Little Prince.

“Don’t be afraid of a gun. Be afraid of who is holding the gun” – Laureana movie

“First know the person you are cooking for. Then cook.” – The secret to good cooking as per movie.

Today is my two week anniversary in Manila and so far this is my evaluation of the places I have been to:

Makati CBD – “Soft Sell” – Positive: Greenbelt & Glorietta is the prettiest urban spot in PH and you will have difficult access to this treasure if you are outside Makati CBD. Negative: Overbuilding around the area would reduce market value in the near future.

Metro Manila outside Makati CBD – “Hard Sell” – Positive: You taste the food of all the different PH regions in Manila. The prettier people in PH have migrated to Manila. Negative: Hellish traffic. Hellish air quality. Hellish slums and dirt. Lots of pregnant women holding several children in the slums – population is exploding in the wrong parts.

Iloilo – “Soft Sell” – Positive: Still has some small town feel and friendliness. Negative: Cooking is bad and they have been guilty several times of putting the reject parts of meat and seafood. The Smallville complex is trying-hard hedonism that is not appealing. I got billed for charging my cellphone.

Boracay – “Soft Sell” – Positive: Still pretty although some of the “island feel” is being replaced by concrete jungle. It is getting more orderly and cleaner. Negative: It is a small island waiting for an environmental catastrophe. Too many Asian tourists and very few westerners.

Kalibo – “Buy” – Positive: Still has the small town feel, the food is very cheap and the food preparation is good. Unlimited rice every time for everyone? Negative: No decent shopping option but is reasonably close to Boracay and Iloilo.

Next up? Palawan

I have visited the Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm in Angat Bulacan via commute on Friday, October 21. It took me close to three hours to get there first by riding the jeep to the MRT, then using the MRT I went to the SM North EDSA bus station. I took an aircon bus to Walter Mart in Sta. Maria, Bulacan. Then I walked to Sta. Maria to take a jeep to Enkanto Elementary school then from there took tricycle to Enchanted Farms.

The location for the Enchanted farm is not-so-great, being tucked in a sort of remote location but with a lot of impoverished people. You see a lot of housing for the poor. I don’t approve of this low cost housing strategy seeing a lot of tiny dwellings cramped up in a highly dense community.

I had a very good first impression going into the Enchanted farms. It looks pretty with lots of artistic building structures and gardens donated by the big corporations. Wait a minute…big corporations? I kept my fingers crossed. I settled at their very nice looking restaurant and there were about 6 young French people who were working with their laptops. I later learned that they were French practicum students. The French have been a big help in building the Enchanted Farms and its other initiatives. One of their initiatives was to create a business with Carabao milk and they lent their expertise in making cheese and created a brand called Caramoo. I was impressed.

I paid for a guided tour with lunch for PHP 570. The lunch was excellent and it featured some good Pinoy cooking of goat calderetta and string bean vegetable, okra soup, pinapple and turon dessert. I went for a guided tour and Billy was the tour guide. He was a graduate of Ateneo and instead of working in the corporate world (which he says he is not naturally inclined) he decided to work for Gawad Kalinga. I was impressed with his sacrifice, and considering he looks conyo Atenista. This should have been a work for hipsters in UP Diliman.

I was throwing Billy with a barrage of questions mainly on the practical application of the farm. I have noticed that the pretty structures donated by the big corporations lay empty and are turning into a destitute place. Despite the presence of a lot of poor people just milling around doing nothing or just playing, I see lot of empty garden plots that are not tended. My impression, there are generals and soldiers but no lieutenants. I think the poor Pinoys need to be coaxed or forced to take initiative to do farming, otherwise, they will just choose to play basketball, be tricycle drivers or just loiter around or worse go into petty crime. This venture is a really big challenge. The Enchanted Farm is turning more into a theme park and their ways of getting income is to get tours with companies or get sponsorships. It has turned away from its goal of lifting people out of poverty by giving them credible livelihoods. My advise to Billy when we got to talk in private:

  1. Develop a pilot project of how a parcel of land (acre/hectare) could give livelihood to a family or small group through permaculture farming.
  2. Add Permaculture certification into their farming school.
  3. Make Farming fashionable.