Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tuesday, December 01, 2015
A view of the distant Mount Makawili and Pulakpulakan from Cabatangan



Once the center of sugar production in Negros Occidental, the storied city of Talisay has always been the setting of sweet beginnings. The remains of an old mansion called The Ruins reflect that what was splendid in the past can still attract one's attention in the present. A stroll in the lay of the land will reveal two worlds: haciendas that started sugarcane plantations, as well as a highland that shelters the cultivation of the juicy lanzones. Villages at the foot of Mount Makawili and Pulakpulakan have enough fertile soil to grow the fibrous fruit for decades to come. As a matter of fact, the village of Concepcion is known to supply a lot of it at the city proper.

To find out more about the fruit growers of Negros Occidental, I traveled to Talisay one weekday to spend three days in the sleepy hamlet of Masanglad that's located in the next village of Cabatangan. I stayed at one of the rustic villas of Melba's Farm for a couple of pleasant nights. On my second day, I hiked a good 30 minutes to see village chief Julio Sioson who's now on his last term in looking out for the welfare of his constituents. Seated at the ongoing construction of his sitio's gymnasium, he shifted his hefty frame to indulge me about living the simple life in his highly vegetated side of the city.

Strolling in the mahogany tree-filled terrain of the village
My booked Mahogany Room at Melba's Farm in the same village
Youngsters of Cabatangan -- kids in Grades 2, 3, and 4, plus a 5-year old one
A local transporting grass he gathered from a nearby ravine

Producer of Exotic Fruits

What not many tourists know is that Cabatangan is also the source of the same fruit and more. From rambutan to durian, the village is a producer of exotic fruit varieties as it's teeming with volcanic soil. He shared that a natural phenomenon -- a volcanic eruption -- a long time ago resulted in the current terrain of the village that has made fruit-growing a source of livelihood in the area.

Abundance of Bamboo 

Another source of income for residents is gathering bamboo poles and selling them in framed sets to serve as property fence. What locals can sell for P25, city suppliers will resell for P80 or more elsewhere. My visit coincided with the rainy season so harvesting them for such purpose was in full swing as most of them take months to grow in the summertime. The abundance of the sturdy grass in the area is evident along the dirt road and in some descending parts of the highland.

Access To The Village

Alvin Carranza, a nature advocate and owner of the 12-hectare property called Melba's Farm, was at the helm of paving a 3 meter-wide dirt road in the woodlands of the village six years ago. The result of the venture gave the locals the chance to transport fruits from their respective backyards aboard motorcycles to sell them in public areas nearby. It also gave city suppliers the chance to bring in their four-wheel drive vehicles to tackle the challenging dirt road and finally carry different raw products that the village settlers could sell.

Rustic Lodging For Hikes and More

As much as the pastoral landscape is charming, the narrow road is badly needing of necessary improvements. I determined this after hiking two different tracks from the farm. Mr. Carranza can only hope for more nature-lovers to drop in and make extended visits at his establishment for them to fully discover the potential of the area for being a worthy retreat from city life. Located 600 meters above sea level, the lodging is breezy at daytime and chilly in the wee hours. It's a perfect escapade from the tourist-thronged Bacolod City which is just less than 30 minutes away.

Forest music: the rustling of the leaves of trees and plants
The dirt road can get eerie at some bends and pleasant in others

With Cabatangan's village chief

Hiking along the dirt road of Cabatangan was a treat for someone like me who practically lived an entire life in highly urbanized Metro Manila. The short trek allowed me stunning views of massive mahogany trees and silhouettes of Mount Makawili and Pulakpulakan, plus dramatic pathways that fork in different directions. I had a hoot following a black puppy that squealed as loud as a mature pig until it disappeared behind the rows of massive mahogany trees. When I started to feel spent, I simply sat at a rustic bench made of bamboo by the side of the dirt road and eventually hitched a motorcycle ride that cut my hike short back to the farm.

I can imagine the area to be an exciting route for dirt bike and all-terrain vehicle (ATV) riders. It can also be a great venue for forest runs. Along the way, a taste of exotic fruits can be arranged.

Check out my other Negros Occidental blog posts:

+ Melba's Farm of Talisay City

+ Sipalay Suites in Sipalay City

Sipalay City Beaches -- Sugar Beach, Poblacion Beach and Lat-asan Cove

+ Exploring The Maricalum Mines of Sipalay City

More Photos Below:

The dirt road leading to the village of Granada

Rambo, resident dog of Melba's Farm, leading the way of my hike


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