From General Santos airport, a two-hour travel to the west prepares one to an exhilarating experience in South Cotabato’s Sebul Farm, an organic haven nestled over 3,000 feet above sea level.
Cozy and chilly, the place is a breath of oasis similar to Tagaytay in Cavite, the closest place to Metro Manila’s urban dwellers looking for cooler climes.
A long, winding and upward road follows the lake path similar to but much longer than Laguna’s Jamboree Road or Tagaytay Ridge. But the lake that comes into sight is far bluer and cleaner than Laguna de Bay nor Taal Lake. Mindanao’s enchanting Lake Sebu is dotted with pretty water lilies and surrounded by lush tropical greens and provincial houses, reminiscent of old Southeast Asia.
Just when you thought you’re ready to take postcard-perfect shots, you move further upward, now with more views of rolling hills and crop plantations, until you see on your right side a quaint sign telling you’ve reached Sebul Farm.
The four-hectare mountainside farm overlooks the lake and the Land of Dreamweavers’ rich mountains, but is made lovelier and homier by vibrant flowering plants, fresh-smelling herbs, vegetables, fruit-bearing vines and trees, including grapes, durian, marang, cacao, and coffee, as well as farm animals and livestock — all purely organic.
The sustainable farm solved its water problem by creating a ramp pump, a long-forgotten technology that brings water up mountainous farms, irrigating them all day long, without using electricity.
Couple William and Mayette Sy, the generous owners, offer Sebul Farm as a learning institute for farmers and interested guests, who get to know today’s technology on organic farming, particularly on cacao and chocolate tablea-making.
Accredited and supervised by the Agricultural Training Institute – Region 12, Sebul Farm also works with local extension workers, including Jose Rudy Muyco, the “cacao doctor.”
To best enjoy leisure farm living, Sebul Farm offers bed and breakfast in its many bahay kubo surrounded by small hito and tilapia fishponds and dreamy gardens. Wake up to a beautiful lakeview sunrise and roam around plots of farm-to-table herbs and edible flowers, such as blue and white ternate, which colors the “blue rice.”
Our group stayed in a two-storey hut with breathtaking views at the veranda. The studio-type room can accommodate up to 15 guests for a minimal charge. There’s no air conditioner or fancy beds — but the duvets are so soft and warm. When taking a shower or flushing the toilet, one has to use the ergonomic tabo, which actually teaches a lesson on sustainable living.
Below is an open kitchen, where all the delicious home-cooked meals in the farm come from. Food is served back at the welcome area, a few steps away from the dorm-huts. It’s roofed but unwalled, making guests feel truly one with nature as they partake of the fresh harvest.
For the whole itinerary, the cheerful landlady, Mrs. Mayette, made sure everyone’s tummy was filled with hearty food — lechon kambing, bulalo, fish and shrimp; blue rice, purple corn and sweet potatoes in various colors; and unlimited hot chocolate.
The leisure farm also takes pride in its soon-to-open white water tubing area, which runs on a 1.2-kilometer stretch of a nearby river. The sports activity lets adventure seekers ride an improvised rubber tube and enjoy a 45-minute adrenaline rush over rocks and water. A two-kilometer hike to and from the starting point makes the activity more intense.
Lake Sebu never runs out of water attractions. Make sure to experience the 7 Falls Zipline and marvel at the beauty of Lake Sebu and its magnificent falls.
After the serene farm life learning experience, complemented by an action-packed tour of Lake Sebu, don’t leave Sebul Farm without a stash of its natural goodies and merchandise — delectable tablea, coffee grounds, stevia, tea bags, chili oil, dried herbs, fruit jams, honey, even pesticide-free insect traps.
Don’t bid the farm goodbye, because you’ll surely come back.
For inquiries, call Sebul Farm at (0915) 517-2697 or (0908) 928-4380. Like Sebul Farm & Organic Products on Facebook.
For more information on farm tours and agricultural trainings, call the Agricultural Training Institute at (1-800) 10-982-2474 or (0920) 946-2474. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit ati.da.gov.ph and e-extension.gov.ph.