Trailing the First Dragon Fruit Picking Festival in the North

Mimie

The REFMAD Farms of the Dacuycuys will always have a special place in the heart of the author of BlauEarth. She has witnessed how the humble hut, surrounded by varying heights of dragon fruit posts, has been markedly reduced in prominence over the years. The baby of Ms. Edita Dacuycuy is now a lady, ever blooming and ripening.

From time to time, Ms. Edita is able to leave the farm to her daughter Mildred aka Mimie (her co-planner and gal Friday since day one) and travel and share the good news about how growing dragon fruit in Ilocos has helped not only her family, but other farmers and communities as well, besides the healthy benefits of this high value crop.

The well-loved farmer in Ilocos Norte has made a significant contribution to tourism — the bucolic yet contemporary destination continues to attract visitors from all walks of life.

First HutRedsqueen of the night

Mimie shares with us photos from one of the international exhibits and expositions REFMAD Farms has participated in. She carries the nation’s colors everywhere she goes. She’s met many wonderful people (like Chef Gaita Fores, in photo below) and learned significant global trends and techniques that she wishes to adopt and practice in the farm. “Her hands are full,” Mimie says when asked if her mom is ready to leave the nitty gritty to her.

dragonfruit with the flagexhibitMimie Dacuycuy

The brainchild of Mimie, the just concluded first Dragon Fruit Picking festival at the farm (the start of a yearly thing) was well-attended by friends and dragon fruit fans, and covered by both national and local media. I was actually the last picker at the 5-day festival. I liked it because I was able to sit down with her for the first time. It was always Tita Edita who taught me the things I needed to learn about dragon fruit.

The hardworking duo behind the successful REFMAD Farms wish they have more time for all the things they haven’t done yet. With a lot of TLC, quality soil and, yes, music (you have to go there to believe), they are able to harvest 10-12 times in 6 months. Their ice cream and vegan dragon fruit lumpia (that tastes like meat) are attractions in themselves. Their dragon fruit wine was featured at Sofitel. Their vinegar is also doing well.

Dragon Fruit TreesTriple FruitMimieDragon Fruit TreeBaby DragonsFruit BoxesDragon FruitMy fruitRipe for the picking: my fruit.dragon fruit ice creamdragon fruit lumpiaDragon Fruit WineIt’s sweet and fruity, but interestingly, it makes a very good cider when it  ages.Untitled

International exhibit photos courtesy of Mildred Dacuycuy
Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2014

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

Saniata Parol

Dropped by the REFMAD Farms in Burgos a couple of days ago. I just loved the parol hanging on the cafe’s ceiling. Parol is traditionally a lantern made with papel de Hapon (Japanese paper) and cellophane glued over a star-shaped bamboo frame.  On Christmastime, more often than not, Filipino Catholic homes are decorated with parols and almost every town in the Philippines has a parol-making contest. Parol-making has evolved through the years. While others favor expensive intricate parols, some with complex lighting system, others still go for the more austere DIY parols. Parols made out of recycled or indigenous materials have also been showing up as of late.

The dragon fruit farm’s dragon fruit parol is simple, yet it attracts the eye. It’s my very first time to see a parol fashioned after a saniata (the new Ilocano term for the fruit, which means blooming and promising). Such a unique and creative translation, yet unmistakably Filipino.

Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2011

Dragon fruit flower lumpia

People keep talking about the odd-looking fruit that has taken Ilocos Norte by storm. Dragon fruit is not in season right now, but tourists and locals flock to REFMAD Farms to take a breather and enjoy the farm’s other products, authentic farm products, such as ice cream, baked goodies, tea, and, now, spring rolls, or lumpia, made from dried dragon fruit flowers. If it isn’t strange enough, the lumpia tastes like meat. It’s light, goes very well with sukang Iloco, and perfect for a summer snack. My Tita Lita and I had green tea with toasted rice (her baon, actually) in between bites of those flavorful sticks.

REFMAD Farms, Brgy. 1, Paayas, Burgos, Ilocos Norte

Photographed by Blauearth Copyright © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved