Meeting the Ilocos Dragon Lady’s Mimie

A new age farmer, Mrs. Edita Dacuycuy

Through all the four years I’ve been blogging about anything under the inspiring sun up north, special connections with people of all walks of life have been formed. I first wrote about new age farmer Manang Edita Dacuycuy in the early days of the LEAD Movement blog (here).

Colorful Fruits

A year later, I was happy to visit a bigger REFMAD Farms offering more dragonfruit bi-products (here). It is still one of the most visited posts in the blog. More than anything else, I feel so blessed to have photographed one memorable woman that has energized and encouraged several thousands more to grow the saniata wonder fruit.

To this day, Manang Edita continues to reap the fruits of her labor. She was awarded by no less than President Aquino and received the priceless opportunity to speak at an APEC event.

The Saniata Farmer

I guess Manang Edita loves the photo  (above) so much that it is on a huge tarpaulin somewhere in the coffeeshop. I remember she did mention that my hand with a dragonfruit against a blue sky is one of the photos in a presentation made for the farm by a university. I likewise treasure all the happy and candid conversations with the lady.

exotic cactus fuitBE screenshot

I met her daughter Mimie in this blog in 2011. I saw her for the first time only last month. She’s so blessed to have a mother like Manang Edita. Manang Edita is a such a beautiful example of a woman leader. She dreams big and turns her dreams to empower people. Seldom do we see truly natural, humble leaders nowadays. Indeed, wealth is in the heart.

REFMAD Farms in the town of Burgos, with Mimie around, is now a more total farm destination. An eco-lodge awaits the green tourist. Imagine a magical field of neonesque dragonfruit blooms in the night. Or waking up to cock crows and sunlit bold, quirky-looking fruits in a sea of greens.

Dragonfruit Farm

To the Dacuycuy family, I feel privileged to have been touched by your beautiful story. All the warm wishes to you.

DragonfruitThe Saniata FarmerDragonfruit
Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2013

Manong Nestor Acosta, Ilocano organic farming advocate

Old-style farming is considered to be modern again. The growing environmental concern in relation to unnatural farming practices such as genetic modification and the use of artificial chemicals has led many farmers worldwide to revert to quaint agricultural practices.

54-year old Nestor Acosta, a native of the town of Bacarra and a farmer for 34 years now, has gone back to the basics in regard to his farming methods. The year 2000 was a turning point in his life as a farmer. The words of a certain public servant — “Agpaili koma ti saba, ngem tattan isumetten itti agpaaway. Awan kadin itti daga itti away? (Bananas should be sent to the city, but now they are sent to the countryside. Are there no more lands in the countryside?)” — were like thunder to him. He took the public servant’s words as a challenge. He worked up a plan, leased additional pieces of land, and went back to natural farming techniques.

He uses only chicken manure  fertilizer in his 10-hectare veritable organic vegetable and fruit farm. Through integrated farming, he is able to yield more high quality, better tasting gourd, bittermelon, papaya and long green beans which he and his family sell at their vegetable stall in the Bacarra public market. To date, he has 230 cinta and red lady papaya trees. His younger guapple trees are nearing maturity.

Manong Nestor has earned several awards for his outstanding efforts in sustainable agriculture. Four years in a row, from 1990-1993, he was awarded an Outstanding Farmer in Region I. He is also a Gawad Saka awardee for converting a wasteland into a year-round green integrated farm. In 2008, the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Foresty, and Natural Resources Research and Development – Department of Science and Technology (PCARRD-DOST) sent him to Korea for a study-visit. “I learned much from that visit. It was an exchange of organic farming ideas between the Philippines, which I represented, and Korea,” he said.

I asked him what are the usual problems he encounters and he said, “So far, none.” He humbly adds, “It is good business for the family.”

Young red lady papaya fruits

Quality sitaw or long green beans

Balayang banana tree. Balayang banana heart is excellent for Filipino kare-kare dish.

Gourd (also known as patola or kabatiti) and ampalaya leaves are Ilocano favorites

“The whole town of  Bacarra, as well as the entire nation, should adopt organic  farming practices for better health and longer life,” Manong Nestor said when I asked him what he wanted to tell his fellow Ilocano farmers.

Nestor Acosta, Brgy. 40 Buyon, Bacarra, Ilocos Norte, Philippines  63-926-6157764
Photos by Blauearth Copyright © Blauearth™ ALL RIGHTS RESERVED