Archive for Negros Occidental

Rapha Valley, your health and wellness destiny

Posted in Agri Tourism, Ecotourism, Environment, Green Hotels, Negros Occidental, Sustainable Living, Travel with tags , , , , , , on January 19, 2014 by Sustainability Guru

Rapha Valley Farm, Don Salvador Benedicto, Negros Occidental

Step back to nature and wellness country in Rapha Valley. Located amidst the unspoiled (well, almost) verdant highlands of Don Salvador Benedicto (DSB) in Philippine’s southern province of Negros Occidental, but for some spatter of garish, contrasting houses, visit this organic farm and return home a health and fitness buff! After a few hours of organic plants & garden orientation,  wholesome food talk and tasting with no less than its owners, medical doctor-turned-organic chef health guru, Dr. Albert Jo and wife Marilou (a Pharmacy Degree holder herself) regaling you with stories on toxic, GMO filled crappy cooking, you will swear off all processed and artificially enhanced supermarket and fast food!

 Getting there.It is a smooth, well-paved countryside, 75-minute drive from Bacolod City up to Barangay Kaliskis,  DSB Highway. A few meters past KM 48, you have to turn to an “off-road” drive (about two kilometers) as organic farms should be located away from the main road. Then after some almost interminable minutes wondering if you’ll ever get there, you reach the gate to paradise on this part of the planet!

 Rapha Valley Welcome

Organic Welcome. You will be met with hearty reception by shorts-and- apron clad waiters, with a fresh organic welcome drink along with Citronella infused ice-cold towels. Well thought out detail, especially after a long drive and to ward off mosquitoes. Sit back and soak in the natural beauty and greenery, as you will be offered cordial snacks of Black Rice Cakes with native and organic dips.

 Dr. Albert Jo, Proprietor, Health & Wellness Guru

Crops and herbs. Dr. Jo starts by giving a pre-farm tour talk on the basics of healthy eating as opposed to toxic, GMO-filled and artificially enhanced everyday food we buy from supermarkets, fast food and convenience stores. It was shocking to know that some foods that we eat can be downright horrifyingly deadly. Then we proceed with the personalized tour by Dr. Jo himself, first going down the valley as he points out the different crops, herbs and vegetables that can be grown at such an elevation. He shows, cuts some pieces and lets you smell or taste the different flowers, herbs and crops. Most important of all he explains the nutritional and/or medicinal value of each plant.

Rapha Valley Healthy Cuisine 

The Cuisine is medicine.  As your appetite is whetted up again with all the uphill and downhill exercise, you will be ready to relish the food served directly from their vast garden. This is no pig-out for typical freeloading foodies. This is a real deal, hale and hearty, mostly vegetarian, honey-sweetened (sugar free), low salt, low fat (even fat free) and no MSG gastronomy. At its healthiest & most original locavorism.   One of its culinary “open” secret is that they are cooked in clay pots, the old fashioned way, slow and correctly prepared. Another attention to detail is their menu system for first time visitors and fare choices for second or multi-visiting guests! Scrumptious pesco vegan and vegan choices include Herbs & Flowers Salad with choice of Dressing. We’ll reserve the rest of the gastronomy fare for you to discover!

Rapha Valley Casita 

Your casita in the Valley. Rapha Valley now boasts of simple cottages for an overnight or extended getaway from the city. Log cabin or country style casitas, landscaped for serenity and solitude, your comfy abode overlooks the southern country side and possibly even Guimaras Island across which can be seen on a clear day. The casitas offers you a relaxing space for retreat and repose atop the hinterlands of haciendas and sugarcane plantations!

RaphaValley DSB Repose 

Word of MouthRapha Valley is fast gaining popularity, not only for its scenic, cool location, lush greenery, and organic gardens, but also for its unique nutritious and all natural cuisine. It is an exquisite surprise not only for the senses and palate but also for your well-being!  On the Valley grounds, soak in the organic garden trails winding past water irrigations and humming birds; your Health & Wellness Guru will explain the fascinating unaffected garden ecosystem. Learn old world remedies and discover an all natural pharmacy (take note, the root word is “farm-acy”) within the gardens. What could be more delightful than relishing colorful edible flowers and vibrant pink hibiscus for a refreshing drink?

 Don Salvador Benedicto Waterfalls

Visit DSB nowRest and relax for a serene retreat in DSB or wander off to a nature adventure and exploration, before it’s proliferated with utterly hideous structures of vacation houses with no respect for character or sense of place. In our Sustainable Tourism advocacy for this town, we urge everyone who is going to build or develop a house or lodging facility to maintain the geographical character of the mountainous ecosystems, its natural topography, heritage, aesthetics and culture. By all means, we highly recommend observing our Green Hotels & Zero Carbon Resorts best practices!

Keep DSB green as Rapha Valley does to keep all guests hale and hearty! It’s not only for our good but also for our future generations’!

 For more information and Green Travel tips, visit our Green Travel Exchange. 

 

Don Salvador Benedicto (DSB) taking up the Eco Challenge

Posted in Agri Tourism, Cultural Scenes, Environment, Good Governance, Responsible Travel with tags , , , , , on March 22, 2011 by Sustainability Guru

Don Salvador Benedicto’s Malatan-og Falls

Villa Ica Garden, Don Salvador Benedicto

The youngest municipality of Negros Occidental, Don Salvador Benedicto more popularly know for its acronym “DSB” is situated 2,495 feet above sea level at the mid-center of the province, 47 kilometers of good highway from capital city, Bacolod.  Its composite jurisdiction  includes two barangays (barrios) from Murcia town, three from San Carlos City and two of Calatrava. Established as a town in 1983, it was intended to consolidate the area into a separate and independent local government unit to counter the insurgency concentrated here.  The town got its name in honor of the late Vice-Governor Salvador Benedicto, who was part in setting the Revolutionary Government of Negros Island and Siquijor during the Japanese occupation last World War II. Today, this newfound town has surpassed geographical, economic and social challenges, with its 10-year strategic master plan for residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural & fishery development zones and because of this became a budding eco attraction in the province, albeit raw and emergent.

Rice Terraces at DSB, Agricultural showcase

Though DSB is still pretty much rural, almost like a big barrio, it has already literally paved the way for bigger things to come, such as its infrastructure: impeccable picturesque highway that is the envy and adjudged “most beautiful” in the country. Its climate is moderate; cool for Philippine tropical standards with an even rainfall distribution throughout the year. Among its rural attractions are historical Barangay Igmaya-an, one of the strongholds of the province’s Revolutionary Government during the Japanese Occupation; the Monument in honor of its namesake, Don Salvador Benedicto; the picturesque mountain ranges of Mt. Mandalagan and Mt. Canla-on;  the remarkable Rice Terraces, a mini-replica of Banaue’s; attractive Malatan-og Falls amidst the lush green forest, ideal for mountain trekking; the 45-meter Hanging Bridge at Barangay Igmaya-an and of course the Zigzag Road leading to the town and the impressive scenic freeway which provided the shortest route between San Carlos, the farthest city of the province to Bacolod, as well as network links to the rest of the Northern towns and cities. DSB prides itself with indigenous tribes still existing in the area and its folkloric fiesta “Kali-kalihan” commemorating the Feast of the Kali, a long lost culture of a genuine Filipino heritage and the oldest form of weaponry, the “Arnis or Escrima.”

DSB’s Kali-kalihan Festival. Photo courtesy of Maeng Java

With DSB Cultural Consultant Ismael Java, Writer-Director of “Anagas”

DSB officials are working towards providing the town with careful and conscientious advancement, slow but sure steps towards Sustainable development with its community based rural and agro tourism. In no time, it will be the country’s next green getaway hotspot.

with Tourism Officers, Cultural Consultant, Maeng Java

Last March 5, 2011, I re-visited DSB and gave a talk and presentation on Sustainable Tourism & Best Green Hospitality Practices, emphasizing the need to conserve its natural resources, with careful consideration for the local community while it embarks on new tourism development to ensure its sustainability for future generations.  Attended by DSB’s town officials and educators, invited guests from neighboring First District of the province comprised of councilors, tourism officers and civic leaders were also present.

Act from “Anagas” the musical, original Hiligaynon musical written & directed by Ismael Java.

I was happy to see several acts from “Anagas” which was especially presented by DSB’s Cultural Consultant, play director and writer, Ismael Java. Anagas is an original Hiligaynon (regional dialect) theatrical presentation with a profound message about the environment.

With these inspiring simple townsfolk and sincere officials dedicating their lives on the preservation of their town, we will be working together for The Negros Initiative framework of Conservation, Community Social Responsibility & Sustainable Tourism.

The Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development, Inc. (SSTDI) is leading the greening of  Negros Occidental and espousing Sustainable Tourism:  experience culture, cuisine, conservation and meaningful visits to Don Salvador Benedicto and other local communities. 

Don Salvador Benedicto is a proponent of The Negros Initiative led by SSTDI,  a Sustainable Tourism, Conservation and Social Responsibility framework to be implemented with institutional partners Green Hotels, The Clean Blue & Zero Carbon Resorts. Sustainability Capacity Building and Training programs towards a green economy for destinations, cities and communities include Good Governance, Rio 21 Agenda, Waste Management/3Rs/MRF, Resilience, Disaster Prevention and Management. Educational programs can be customized for public and private stakeholders, local government units, private businesses and the local community in general. For more info, visit our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. website or contact SSTDI on how we can help.

Eco Agri Sustainable Farm Showcase

Posted in Agri Tourism, Cuisine & Dining, Negros Occidental, Responsible Travel, Sustainable Tourism with tags , , , , on February 20, 2011 by Sustainability Guru

Eco Agri Sustainable Farm Showcase

I first got connected with Organic farmer & social entrepreneur Ramon “Chin-Chin” Uy, Jr. via Facebook, who organized the Organic Farmers Festival in Negros Occidental last November 2010 with Organic Na! Negros Producers and Retailers Association (ONOPRA).

with Eco Agri’s Nonoy Moraca, Chin-chin & Francine Uy of Fresh Start Organics

When I presented at The Negros Initiative Conference, Chin-chin, a young, dynamic Sustainable Farming advocate immediately signified his support as our partner NGO, and we couldn’t ask for a more genuine green and Sustainability proponent who will spearhead the Community Based Rural & Agro Tourism in Negros.

The family owned business RU Foundry and Machine Shop established Eco-Agri Development Foundation Inc. (EcoAgri) their NGO arm which was formed to handle all activities related to Sustainable Farming initiatives.

Negros Initiative partner, Eco Agri Foundation

EcoAgri manages the interactive showcase farm in Barangay Pahanocoy, Bacolod City, to include exhibit or demonstration of Vermiculture and Vermicomposting, Biogas System, Lemon Grass Oil production, Hydraulic Ram Pump for drinking water and irrigation without using fossil fuel driven engine or electric motor, the Windmill (pumping water for drinking and irrigation), among other technologies to support organic farming activities.

Vermicomposting, Biogas System, Lemon Grass Oil extractor, Hydraulic Ram Pump, Windmill

Eco-friendly Fresh Start Organic products, ideal for Eco hotels & resorts

Chin-chin with his wife Francine, ownFresh Start Organics, which offers a whole array organic products, fertilizer, produce, natural personal care products, ideal as eco-friendly hotel amenities, such as soaps, shampoos and lotions and of course, superb organic food produce and deli. A new green (organic) revolution in the making!

Negros Initiative partners with EcoAgri in their PURO program

As part of their mission and vision, EcoAgri with Fresh Start Organics will implement its tasks in partnership with the Negros Initiative in empowering communities for sustainable development to achieve food and environmental security, providing support services to the beneficiary communities, not only in Negros but the whole Philippines and beyond. Under its Skills Enhancement and Entrepreneurship Development (SEED) Program, they will assist out of school youths, individuals and community organizations in the fabrication of equipments and other technologies and develop them into entrepreneurs by providing additional capital and support facilities. Through their Ecological Management Program (EMP) they will assist in Waste management in partnership with the LGUs, Communities, Private Sector, Academe and NGOs; in Rain forestation, Biodiversity Protection and Conservation.

EcoAgri services include PURO (Produce UR Own- Organic), Research and development, manufacturing and installation of technologies to support organic farming activities of the partners and beneficiaries; Promotion and marketing of farmers organic products under Fair Trade conditions; Establishment of community-based organic fertilizer production and Community-based seed banking, collection and propagation of indigenous varieties of rice and vegetable and other crops.

These activities will be shared not only with the local communities but also with all like-minded visitors to Negros who seek a holistic, rustic-chic holiday experience. Interactive Organic Farm guided tour with sumptious organic meals are offered as well as pre-scheduled presentations of the EcoAgri Showcase Farm for interested local government units (LGUs), small and medium entreprises ( SMEs)  and social entrepreneurs worldwide.  Aside from these, several activities throughout the year will be organized such as Organic Farmer’s Market, Food Festivals and Organic Farming Exhibitions, of course incorporating Green Events ethos! Watch out for more yummy details!

Eco Agri Park & Fresh Start Organic Farm Tour with organic meals

Eco Agri Farm is a proponent of The Negros Initiative : a Sustainable Tourism, Conservation and Social Responsibility framework to be implemented with institutional partners Green Hotels, The Clean Blue & Zero Carbon Resorts. Sustainability Capacity Building and Training programs towards a green economy for destinations, cities and communities include Good Governance, Rio 21 Agenda, Waste Management/3Rs/MRF, Resilience, Disaster Prevention and Management. Educational programs can be customized for public and private stakeholders, local government units, private businesses and the local community in general. For more info, visit our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. website or contact SSTDI on how we can help.

Sustainable Ethos for Occidental Negros

Posted in Agri Tourism, Cuisine & Dining, Environment, Good Governance, Green Hotels, Negros Occidental, Sustainable Tourism, Zero Carbon Resorts with tags , , , , , , , on February 13, 2011 by Sustainability Guru

The Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development, Inc. (SSTDI) is a newly formed not-for-profit, non-government organization (NGO) to lead & implement the Negros Occidental’s Sustainable Tourism capacity building and training, promoting green travel experiences of culture, cuisine, conservation and meaningful visits to local communities.    

While working on The Boracay & Coron Initiatives I took a side trip to my home province sugar land Negros Occidental in southern Philippines. Upon request of Tita Sonia Sarrosa, energetic CEO of 2010 ASEAN Green Hotel Awardee Nature’s Village Resort, I did a stopover to give a talk and presentation on Conservation, Social Responsibility and Sustainable Tourism.   I was happy to learn that in fact, Negros Occidental became the first organic province and aims to be the organic bowl of Asia.

Private farm of Bonnin family

A select group of Provincial officials and private tourism stakeholders were waiting patiently for my delayed flight to listen to my presentation, gleaned from my first hand experience with Inkaterra, Peru’s Eco pioneer and Conservation Leader since 1975.

With children-guides at the Museo Sang Bata Negros in Sagay

Next day, we visited Sagay City, south of the province, home of Museo sang Bata Sa Negros (Children’s Interactive Marine Museum).  The Museum size, design and exhibits were originally intended for children but it is an attraction for visitors of all ages, too. Its focus is to educate primarily, children  on Coastal Marine resources especially of nearby Carbin Reef Marine Reserve. However the Museum also serves as a Welcome Center for all guests, offering a brief intro about Sagay’s marine biodiversity, conservation programs and a small hall dedicated to Sagay’s son, the late Governor Joseph Maranon. Several children act as guides in each mini-exhibit and their spiels are heartwarming and interesting not only for kids but also for adultsCarbin Reef Marine Sanctuary, a coral-reef restoration site

Just a quick motor boat ride from the pier across the water, we island-hopped to Carbin Reef Sandbar, the visitors’ base to the 200 hectare Marine Sanctuary. The tongue shaped white sand bar is open for day visitors on a limited capacity for swimming, snorkeling or scuba diving.From Carbin Reef, we took a brief ride to Barangay Vito, where we took the motorboat to Molocaboc Island. We were graciously welcomed by the Barangay Captain and residents who offered us an exquisite lunch of native seafood, proudly produced by the island. Molocaboc has no fresh water resource, thus all residents make use of large earthen jars for rain water catchment to have water supply.

Sagay, Negros Occidental’s rich marine resources

Japanese NGO’s visit the island yearly to do their outreach programs to include mangrove reforestation and sea ranching (a sustainable way of aquaculture & fishing). We then took a quick visit to the farm of college-friend, Jojo Bonnin in Barangay Alangilan,  a mini green-hideaway, just 15 minutes from the city.

Jojo Bonnin’s farm, mini green getaway

From this visit, The Negros Initiative was born, to develop responsible travel to Negros with proponents to include: Eco Agri Sustainable Agri Farm  showcase, Don Salvador Benedicto, the next emerging eco hot spot in the Philippines, and Fresh Start Organic Sustainable Agri tours.

Agri Tourism Sustainable Farm Show Case

Agri Tourism Sustainable Farm Show Case

The Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development, Inc. (SSTDI) is formed to lead The Negros Initiative in the Sustainable Tourism, Conservation and Social Responsibility development for Negros with institutional partners Zero Carbon Resorts, Green Hotels & Clean Blue. Sustainability

Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development, Inc. (SSTDI)

Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development, Inc. (SSTDI)

Capacity Building and Training programs for cities, municipalities and communities  include Good Governance, Rio 21 Agenda, Waste Management/3Rs/MRF, Resilience, Disaster Prevention and Management. Educational programs will be customized for public and private stakeholders, local government units, private businesses and the grassroots community in general.

Zero Carbon Resorts helping SMEs switch to renewal energy and green technology

ZERO CARBON RESORTS is our joint project with GrAt for the SMEs in the Tourism Industry to reduce carbon footprint by switching from use of fossil fuel to renewable energy sources especially solar energy and green technologies.

Green Hotels Asia Pacific our network of reliable eco-responsible hotels

Green Hotels Asia Pacific our network of reliable eco-responsible hotels

GREEN HOTELS ASIA PACIFIC is our network of the most reliable eco responsible hotels around the world. It works to help the hotel industry embrace sustainability by integrating innovation and added value with environmental actions in a vibrant global exchange of green hoteliers, operators and responsible clients.

Clean Blue Asia-Sustainable Beach management for public & private beach operators

CLEAN BLUE ASIA is thenew industry standard for beach management and safety – ISO 13009 – the “Clean Blue Industry Standard” CBIS – to help provide beach operators with the information and guidance to effectively manage the beaches of Asia – Pacific.

For more information visit our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. website or contact SSTDI on how we can help.

A Fresh Start: 11 Reasons to go Organic

Posted in Agri Tourism, Cuisine & Dining, Environment, Events, News, Lifestyle, Negros Occidental, Western Visayas with tags , , , , , on January 20, 2011 by Sustainability Guru
by Fresh Start Organic
Re-posted from Fresh Start Organics Facebook page… good insight and info to share for everyone! Note: Fresh Start Organic & Eco Agri Development Foundation Inc. are some of our proponents in the Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.-SSTDI’s The Negros Initiative, Sustainable Agri -Tourism in Negros Occidental.
11 Reasons to go organic
 

It’s Nutritious! Studies show that organic food is filled with more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and flavonoids than conventionally grown food.

It Tastes Good! Organic food is grown in harmony with nature – so it’s naturally more delicious and flavorful.

Fresh Start Veggies

Its Cheaper! Looking at the price tags when comparing organic and conventional products is misleading. If you include the long-term costs such as social, environmental and health costs, you’d realize that organic food is much, much cheaper.

It Promotes Biodiversity! Organic farming disrupts native ecosystems as little as possible in its methods, which promotes the growth and development of wildlife species.

It Protects Future Generations! Children are up to 164 times more sensitive to cancer-causing pesticides used in conventionally grown food. Going organic will lessen the risk of future health problems.

6. It Helps Rural Communities! Organic farming uses locally available materials and manpower, which creates and maintains sustainable local communities.

It Reduces Health Risks! Many toxic chemicals linked to cancer and other diseases are still used in conventional farming. Going organic means prevention and protection from these long-term effects.

Its Environmentally Sustainable! Organic farming does not pollute waterways, air or soil. It uses renewable inputs as well, which make it safer and healthier for the environment.

It Builds Healthy Soil! Organic farming relies on the belief that healthy soil equals healthy food. Using natural inputs, organic farmers make an effort to maintain the vitamins, minerals and quality of the soil.

It Meets Quality Standards! Organic farming is strictly regulated to make sure that they live up to quality standards. When you buy organic, you are getting a product that lives up to its name, which is what all consumers deserve.

Its Available! You and your family can now enjoy a wide selection of organic and natural products every day. Fresh Start Organic food stores now offer fresh, healthy, chemical free food from salad greens, culinary herbs, fruits, vegetables, rice, coffee, snacks, sweeteners and all natural personal care products daily.

Fresh Start Organics

For more information and assistance in Sustainable Agri-Tourism tours to Negros Occidental, contact SSTDI.