The panorama on the sunrise side: an awesome view of Malarayat

The quiet panorama on the sunrise side of the farm: an awesome view of Mount Malaráyat and the river below the gap.

28 May 2012

Around Lipa: Malarayat Golf & Country Club

Just some minutes away from the farm is the much raved-about 27-hole golf course and the Country Club that has forever changed the landscape of Lipa. From its grounds one can see panoramic views of Mount Malarayat which gives the course a unique backdrop that cannot be mistaken for anywhere else. In fact, one hole has been dubbed as one of the 500 World's Greatest Golf Holes!

It's a beautiful property, you can see more about them at their website, which explains more about their amenities, activities, dining options, and even an adjacent residential estate boasting stunning views of the golf course and the surrounding vistas (all photos in this entry are from their website).

24 May 2012


Any tropical garden could easily achieve color, texture, and a warm, relaxed ambience by adding a variety of Crotons (Codiaeum). Mixed with greens or flowering shrubs, the amazingly-varied patterns lend a dash of visual excitement to an otherwise redundant or predictable scheme.

You'd want to grow colorful Crotons for its glossy, leather-like leaves whose shapes vary from oval to linear, rounded to pointed. Some are ruffled, some are spiral, some are curled, and we even have one with teaspoon-like extensions (above)! Colors are a broad spectrum of warm tropical hues: canary yellow, brick red, chocolate brown, and tangerines.

And then there are the patterns! Some have spots, others have specks and look like they've been dusted with powder. Some leaves have contrasting outlines, some have one singular stripe, while others have smudges smeared on the edges. And a lot of them have different colors and shades simultaneously on the same trunk and change as they age!

Locals collectively call them "San Francisco;" how that came about, I do not know. They're no longer as popular as before but I like them and it looks so good in the gardens. 

14 May 2012


From a single cutting from an uncle's garden more than two years ago, we finally have grown into a flowering bush the strikingly-red Jacobinia plant (Justicia carnea).

It has glossy, deep green veined leaves and vivid red inflorescences (may be other colors in other varieties) that grow in its terminal branches, so periodic pruning is necessary not only for the flowers to grow where you want them to but the plant has a tendency to become too leggy in time. We planted it near the Candle Flower plant (background, Pacystachys lutea) to provide contrast. But to break the continuous green hedges, we inserted a deep-colored Croton in between them (not shown in the photo).

10 May 2012

Delicious Mangoes!

We've started enjoying Indian mangoes since last weekend! They're crunchy, refreshing, and hardly sour at all: the sweet and spicy bagoong  perfectly complements its tangy flavor. I have sisters coming soon from abroad; I sure hope they'll still catch some when they get here!

07 May 2012


We've successfully grown pineapples! It was such an exciting discovery over the weekend to stumble upon not only full-grown but plump pineapples growing out in the sun. At first, we weren't sure if what we planted will flourish and yield fruits. It just sounded preposterously easy: plant the pineapple's crown back to the ground and it will take root, grow and bear fruit. Just that!

Pineapples (piňa, Ananas comosus) belong to the bromeliad family, which all originate from Central and South America, and pineapples specifically are thought to have originated from what is now present-day Brazil and Paraguay. It was Christopher Columbus who brought it back to Europe and popularized it, and became a status symbol among the tables of the rich and famous. Apparently, the closest they could allude it to then are pine cones.

03 May 2012


Extremely attractive at this time of the year is our Macopa tree (Malay Apple, Syzygium malaccensis), full of shiny, bell-shaped and rose-hued fruits that shimmer in the hot, summer sun. It's planted by our entrance gate, and everybody who walks by cannot help but stop and admire it.

You'd want to eat them soon after picking (as they bruise easily), maybe chill them a bit to make the juice even more refreshing. This crunchy fruit tastes best with a dip of rock salt.

02 May 2012


Also fruiting now is our lone cashew tree! This is one among several pilot seedlings we planted soon after acquiring the farm; at that time we would lap up any seedling we come across of anything that we do not have and just randomly plant it. Some we have already taken out since then (for a variety of reasons), but some stayed and flourished just like this. Of course we all know that the "nut" at the bottom gets roasted to become the snack that we know, but my staff says that the yellow drupe is just as edible.