The Buzz About Bohol Bee Farm

The Cave

At The Cave

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The author at the farm.

The author at the farm.

(This article was published in the 17 November 2008 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer)

By Rita Festin

 

 

Panglao, Bohol — In this province, “The Buzz” is not a showbiz-oriented show but a souvenir store which sells various byproducts from Bohol Bee Farm’s organic garden.

 

The Buzz is in the farm and has a branch in one of the province’s biggest mall.  It sells an array of honey byproducts  spreads, to tea, to camote bread, baskets, mats, paintings, curtains, etc.

 

The Bohol Bee Farm is not just a bee farm; it is an integrated enterprise that has diversified into various livelihood activities that now directly employs almost 130 people just for maintenance alone, most of whom live onsite. 

 

The farm has a 21-room hotel, a garden for organic plants, “Cave” restaurant specializing in organic food, an area by the sea for native massage and spa “with the Bohol touch” called “Hilot”, and a rafia-weaving hut.  It offers only the best that one can find in Bohol and it shows in the array of native handicrafts sold in The Buzz.  Her hotel rooms vary from single detached “Colony Suites” to “Honeycomb and Beehive Suites” duplexes, to “Garden Bungalows and The Barn” row houses in the middle of the organic garden, like walking into a fairy tale.  The hotel is almost always fully-booked.   There are 2 indoor swimming pools inside “The Cave” and there is really a cave beneath the sprawling restaurant with a roof raised three to four-storeys high with sunlight peering through.  It can accommodate 100 to 200 people for special private functions.  Farm hands are always on hand to provide a 20-minute tour of the complex for the dozens of visitors who drop by daily.

 

Vicky worked for 3 years as a nurse in the US in a nursing home.  She went home to Bohol to set up her farm and retire, starting from a single house and with gardening as a hobby. 

 

Today, there is a flurry of activity and business decisions she has to tackle even in her pajamas to indicate that she is in the thick of this enterprise that she has nurtured over the past 7 years.  She estimates that she now provides indirect employment to four times as many people.  For such is her nature, seeking ways to provide livelihood to her fellow Boholanos, her way of paying back the community for all the successes she is reaping.

 

This proud Boholana’s house is a tribute to her roots, using exotic wood and materials from her ancestral Tagbilaran home to build her two-storey beach cottage overlooking the sea.  “How can I not be inspired by this view”, she says matter-of-factly.  She says that her house’s architecture is not Balinese-inspired and is her concept alone, Boholano style.  Her room is not airconditioned, but is cool anyway, as she is surrounded by mangroves that provide shade and protection over the entire complex that sits on a hill.  So that even in noontime heat, the mangroves provide an umbrella over her farm.  She also attests that there are no mosquitoes in her farm, as her farm hands religiously seek and destroy breeding sites. 

 

She learned from experience that for a product to succeed, the manufacturer must patronize it.  “Be the consumer,” she preaches.  So in her hotel, the toiletries are her organic soap and shampoo.  Her curtains are rafia rolls.  She is grateful for government’s support to her product development, such as the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Science and Technology.   

 

I particularly liked and brought home a jar of honey spread, for its sweet taste and creamy texture.  I also brought home a pack of lemon grass tea, ginger tea, and mixed flower tea.  The lemon grass tea had a refreshingly unique taste, especially when served with ice.  I was told later on that a cup of hot lemon grass tea everyday can prevent cancer.  The organic salad is a must try, especially the flower on top.  I liked their brewed coffee and I regret not trying their corn coffee. 

 

So for travelers seeking the ultimate in relaxation and vacation, Bohol Bee Farm offers that and much more, in unique Bohol-style.

 

 

Products for sale at The Buzz

Products for sale at The Buzz

Room with a sea view

Room with a sea view

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