[Travel] Bangkong Kahoy Organic Escape. Dolores Quezon


From a busy week at work to an eyeopening organic adventure weekend in Bangkong Kahoy, Dolores, Quezon. This was definitely the kind of 'different' weekend that I could get used to. All thanks to the wonderful team of Agricultural Training Institute's e-Extension Division for including me in the Organic Agriculture Bloggers group and educating me about organic agriculture.

Anyways, we left Manila early Saturday morning and EDSA was already starting to pickup its usual habit. Dolores Quezon is around 105 kilometers from Manila. Bangkong Kahoy is at Kinabuhayan, Dolores, Quezon. Right at the middle of Mt. San Cristobal and Mt. Banahaw. 

Arrived Bangkong Kahoy around lunch time, and the gracious hosts of the valley was so kind that they prepared our meal. During the time of our arrival, there were also some students from U.P. and some foreigners who were on tour and was visiting the beautiful place.

First thing I noticed when I was there is the air. It was so fresh and light. I don't exactly know what the air smells like, but I'm guessing it's clean air that I was smelling.

Our lunch was served. Healthy and organic style. Organic Mushroom soup, sauteed vegetables, fish and I think the last one are mushroom balls.

This right here made me curious. For their dessert, they served wild raspberries or what the locals there call Sampinit. Oh an yes, the Philippines have raspberries!
Its botanical name is Rubus rosifolius, and is leucoanthocyanin, anti-Alzheimer’s, and has anti-cancer phytochemical content. What's also good about this one is not its prickly shrub but it is so easy to grow.

So attractive when ripe, the redness of it is just so inviting. People from Dolores, Quezon found out that this particular berry has a potential to grow big in the world market. It can be processed into juice, jam and wine. The leaves can also be used as tea. 

Pathway leading to our rooms.
After eating and resting up for a bit on our rooms which is big enough for around 4-6 people, we were called out to join the group for a short gathering and a tour of the place.

The host Mr.Dionisio Pullan or sir 'Dion', is not the owner but the caretaker of the land as he calls himself when asked if he owned the whole 56 hectares of Bangkong Kahoy. But only 21 hectares is the Area Field Study Center. The place is actually founded by Mr. Agripito Lontoc, who is the first hermit of Mount Banahaw. A protected area and was able to have the area titled in the 1920's. 

Sir Dion's story is quite something. He stayed for 21 years in Australia and just keeps on coming back to Bangkong Kahoy from time to time, Maybe because this is the place where he grew up. Walking 7km just to go to school, even calling the place a god forsaken town. Staying that long in other country caused Dion to lose himself. He went back to Bangkong Kahoy, stayed there for 7 days. The place was smelling pesticide and seemed to have lost its natural beauty, he wanted to change something in Bangkong Kahoy. So he did.

He put up some organizations for the farmers, the BKforest for farmers and organizations to help out the ecosystem of the place, to do that Dion would need to change from pesticides into organic. It took a while to convince the farmers who were used to using pesticides, but afters being threathened that they will lose the land if they continue to use pesticide they started changing into organic.

Bangkong Kahoy and Dion's group is not connected with any government organization. "I want to do it on my own and maybe in the future, use my system as a model". We have supporters like a group of pranic healers. Those who believes in good karma, the power of water, positive energy and healing without touch. Mt. Banahaw's Bulkan de Agua is the main source of water which is pesticide free, clean and fresh.

The mushroom colony started over a year ago and on the first few months was a failure, until they got it right. After seeking supporters and some assistance in funding, they were able to get around P250,000 in capital and put up a mushroom colony which ended up helping more than 20 families. 

After some trial and errors, they got the technique and eventually made their own seeds. 98% seed production without waste. The fruiting bag books for 4 hourse and cools down for 24 hours. Bangkong Kahoy even sells each bag for P40.

Aside from shifting into organic and mushroom, they were also looking for alternative means of livelihood. The project colored stone and getting the youth of the area involved. They call the foundation FRIEND. Foundation for Reliance, Integrity, Education, Nurture Dolores.

Bangkong Kahoy's main produce would be somewhat similar to Baguio's produce. Cabbage, lettuce, a few carrots and some weeds (No, not that kind of weed), and also the wild raspberry. A plant that grows so quick and has better tasting raspberry than Europe and America, even Australia.

Rich in Phytochemicals, Antioxidants, Antosyamin which prevents Alzheimers's diseases you would think that only the fruit is useful, but the leaves of this Sampinit can be used as tea (just mix with pandan to avoid the bland taste) or can be used as anti-inflammatory agent. You'd also be surprised that this wild raspberry sells for around 400/kilo farm price. Dion even shared that Ramon Quisumbing said to raise it's price because it had potential and is really good. Dion also added that the dehydrated leaf and twigs sells for around 1200/kilo. No waste.

The Sampinit grows from January to around mid April. Bangkong Kahoy has around 3 hectares of Sampinit planted all over the place and piles up to 4 tons during it's season. Problem is, the shelf life of these berries is around 2-3 days only. Dion shares that when processed, it doubles its price. Jams, Jelly, Vinaigrette and even shakes!
Sampinit Shake is the bomb!
Below are photos I took during the tour of the place. A lot of people come here for the air and water and to basically get our of the busy city and enjoy the simple life and nature.

The view of Mt. Banahaw is just lovely.

They also have a small chapel there. For some simple and out of the city weddings, the place is just wonderful and elegant.
Photo on the right is the hanging bridge going to their zipline. Which costs around P100 I think. 

More photos of the place.

After the tour headed to our room to catch up rest, had dinner and did our best to take shots of the stars that were up that night. They also mentioned that there were fireflies that night and some monkeys around but we weren't able to catch them.

This photo of the sky with the stars is not much of a shot. He he. (Time to upgrade camera) After some star gazing, we headed to our rooms and rested early. 

The next morning, we had a really good organic breakfast, had a great char with sir Dion and prepare our stuff for our trip heading back to Manila.

After preparing, we dropped by that tent on the right and did a little shopping before heading home.

I had a great experience here at Bangkong Kahoy, I think that if given the chance, I'd come back here again and bring my family. I'm sure they would love the air and the water. So relaxing and disconnected with 

My take away from this experience is not just the health benefits of going organic but also the difference that it makes in the community and economy of the people living in it. Mr. Dion
 made me realize that going back to one's roots is the key into finding a purpose and contentment in life.

So thank you Mr. Dion Pullan for enlightening us on organic farming and sharing your inspiring story with us. until we meet again sir.

For more information on Bangkong Kahoy, you may add them on Facebook right here. You may get in touch with them in these numbers 0929-8198537 / 0918-5093224 or email them at bkvalley@gmail.com.

You may check out more photos right here.

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  1. The guy wearing a green top is an added attraction to an already beautiful view.

  2. Nice shots of the night sky! Is that a shooting star?! :)

  3. Thanks Ruth! That's a plane. :) Hehehe slow shutter. :)

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