A collaborative venture has sprung up in the northern end of Siargao that offers a new experience to visitors, while also supporting remote farming communities on the island.
Filipino-English entrepreneur Sam Wilson launched the Bayatakan Farm Experience — the first farm-to-table tour in Siargao — last July. “Tourism can immensely impact the lives of the locals, but it can also leave them worse off if they are left behind. Food prices go up and life becomes more expensive for those who aren’t profiting from the boom,” says the 31-year-old former marketing consultant, who has lived in Siargao for the past two years. “By working with local communities, we can bring more value to both the community and the tourists.”
Wilson has partnered with nurse-turned- farmer Analyn Dulpina, who established Bayatakan Farm in 2013, as a small vegetable garden, in Barangay Matin-ao in Burgos municipality, an 80-minute drive north of General Luna. “We look after our plants 24/7, so a natural farming system is more exciting than one that uses chemicals,” explains Analyn.
Guests on the Bayatakan Farm tour are taken on an experiential day tour of the three-hectare property. “We want to educate people on where their food comes from; the time it takes for a farmer to plant it, nourish it and harvest it; as well as the process from farm to kitchen to table,” says Sam. “It seems very simple, but the impact can be quite powerful.” While exploring the farm, visitors are given the opportunity to be hands-on while learning about the different aspects of organic farming. The experience culminates in a wholesome lunch served at a pavilion built over a shallow stream, where guests may opt for a dip in the cool waters.
Ultimately, Sam hopes that his passion project will inspire the next generation of farmers. “The young ones will be able to see how farming can be a suitable, attractive job that can help them make a life in the provinces, instead of chasing a profession in the big cities,” he says.
Located at yoga-and-surf retreat Lotus Shores, Kali Ma Café is a vegan restaurant that sources most of its herbs and vegetables from Bayatakan and other local farms. Try the meatless “naked” chorizo, crispy kangkong or tempeh sushi, paired with flavorful power juices. lotusshores.com