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.

23 December 2012

It's In the Bag!

The cabána, that is! A friend gifted me with a personalized tote with a photograph of our place printed on it. Not only is it so unique, it's also very practical and useful. Suddenly, my Christmas gifts to friends look so unimaginative...

22 December 2012


Whenever friends ask about coming to the farm, I always make an effort to let them feel welcome to visit. As I always say, the place only gets animated when there are people around. It can get boring to garden all day, play with the dog, or bike by myself; visiting friends always give a respite to our othewise bucolic lifestyle.

And it's such a joy to dine alfresco! This Christmastime, we are blessed with sunshiny days  with an evenly cool breeze. Dining in the fern garden always starts early and lingers until twilight. We barbecued spareribs, had fresh salads, the yummiest desserts, and our own home-grown coffee.

16 December 2012

Philippine Tree of the Month: Baguilumbang

When I set out to plant a pair of shade trees for our parking area, I went to great lengths choosing a pair of native trees whose names are heard of but people have hardly seen. I eventually narrowed down my choices to Lumbang (Aleurites moluccana), and went on looking for seedlings. Throughout that time, I got acquainted with a foundation whose advocacy is to promote planting native trees.

The day came I was to pick up my Lumbang seedlings and soon after, we planted it. Some months passed and this foundation invited me to contribute anecdotes to a book they will publish about Philippine Trees. I wrote about Lipa, my city's namesake, and Lumbang whose story I mentioned above.

When the book came out and I brought it to the farm, the Lumbang photos (not from my tree) did not look like what we have at all! The leaves are different and the tree's shapes do not look alike. On the same book, I found out that I planted instead a pair of Baguilumbang trees! Now I have not heard of Baguilumbang (Reutalis trisperma), but I learned from the book that this is an endemic tree unlike the Lumbang which occurs in many countries in Asia (which explains why it has an English name, the Candlenut Tree).

I have grown to like the Baguilumbangs: apart from it being such fast-growers, they are actually an endangered species, making it an even more important tree to propagate. More people are even made aware now of a relatively unknown native tree simply by planting them!

15 December 2012

White Christmastime Blooms

Just like its more popular cousin, the Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), the aptly-named Pascuita (literally, "something small related to Christmas," E. leucocephala) is in full bloom now. We have only recently started propagating this, and our mother plant has just got itself established and acclimatized. True to its name, it has tiny white flowers but are so many that it covers the entire bush. We will start propagating potted specimens and will complement next year's red poinsettias.

Another beautiful white bloom is the native Doňa Aurora (Mussaenda philippica), with creamy white, somehwat velutinous "flowers" (actually bracts), tiny yellow bead-like flowers, and deep green leaves. It's another we are propagating in pots to support the popular poinsettias.

09 December 2012


My cousin, Peachy visited last Friday and she gifted me with a home-made white parôl (a Christmas lantern, lower right) as pasalubong. We ourselves have actually started making parol frames from our own bamboo but have been fence-sitting whether to use weather-proof (though hideously shiny) plastic sheets or the old-school, hard-to-find paper ones.

So to complement what Peachy gave, we bought some red and white papél de japòn and grouped them altogether. Peachy's home-made gift affirmed what we have been thinking all along: making the traditional version without the glitz and the blings, which looks and feels far more organic to our place. What I like the most about these paper lanterns are the cut-out tassels as delicate as pastíllas wrappers.

The name comes from the Sp. faról, and symbolizes the star that the Three Wise Men followed to find the Christ Child.

08 December 2012

The Glamping Tent

For some years, I've been toying with the idea of a furnished camping tent; I had no clue there is actually a term for it and it has become quite a craze in Europe in the recent years! Glamour camping, or "glamping," for short, is like a more comfortable, stylish, and relaxing version of roughing it out in the

wild. Now a friend gave me this oversized, seven-man tent when we started the farm and I furnished it with our own home-made bamboo furniture.

02 December 2012

Batik Tablecloths

Earlier this year, I had to make a quick trip to Indonesia and I managed to sneak out from the business schedule and buy some nice batík table cloths. They're nothing exotic nor valuable; in fact, I think they're some inexpensive, touristy beach sárongs but they look gorgeous in the gardens nevertheless.

They have coordinated patterns (in this case, flowers) in contrasting colors of blue and orange; I have another set with butterflies (not in the photo), in the same color scheme. Two ends are fringed, while the long sides have a jagged pattern on its senepa.