Last week, Feyma, the kids and I took a day trip up to Bukidnon to see our old friend, Father Franco Uras. Father Franco is an Italian Priest who lives in Buda, which is right on the Bukidnon/Davao border. We have known Father for years now, and we always enjoy spending a day visiting with him. Father Franco’s place there in Buda is really a farm, of sorts. Father grows tomatoes, egg plant, lettuce (many varieties) and lots of herbs and other veggies as well. Recently, Father Franco has gotten in to growing rice too. In addition to his crops, Father also raises rabbits at his place. The rabbits, mostly, are sold to Davao restaurants who have rabbit based dishes on their menus.
Feyma and I went up and visited with Father a couple of months ago, but for the kids it had been about 2 years or so since they had been up to Buda to visit Father Franco’s farm. In addition, we decided to invite the school girls that Feyma and I have been sponsoring, thanks to the generosity of the LiP Community and your donations back during the Christmas Drive last year. Of the four girls, only two were able to come with us, as the others had other activities planned ahead of time. Apple and Rezavie came with us, and we also invited Lanilou and Lorie Ann, the daughters of Bebe Metillo, my language teacher. So, we had a lot of people between Feyma and I, our kids, a few nieces and nephews and these other 4 girls! We took two vehicles up to Buda, since there was no way we could all fit into one!
Rezavie, Apple and Bebe’s two daughters rode with Feyma and I, and it was quite an interesting trip. For some of these girls, it was surely their first time to visit out in the Provinces like that. As you get up into the mountains, it is very common to see lots of people on horseback, riding small Philippine horses. When these girls saw this, they were just amazed, it was as if they had no idea that people actually rode horses! The views of the valleys and mountains really made an impact upon these girls too.
When we were in the Marilog District along the Davao/Bukidnon border, I told Feyma to keep an eye out along the roadside. In this area, there are lots of people selling beautiful plants and flowers along the road, and they are very cheap. What we were on the lookout for, though, were strawberries, which are also grown in the area. I had been wanting to have some strawberries lately, and they are not readily available (fresh) in the City, so I really was hoping to find some up here. We have been buying strawberries in this area for years, but it is sort of hit and miss – they are not always available, or have been sold out earlier in the day. Then, as we were passing through one area, something red caught my eye, and I thought… hmm… I think those were strawberries! So, I turned around, and sure enough, there were 5 containers of strawberries for sale along the roadside! Score! We stopped and bought 3 containers of strawberries (P100 each), took a few photos in the area and headed down the road. The girls were loving it, and having a great time! The weather was a bit cool, and the girls all said it was cold! Ha ha… Feyma and I were having a lot of fun.
You know, a lot of people think that the only place in the Philippines where strawberries are grown is in Baguio and that area up north. Wrong, wrong, wrong! You can usually find freshly picked strawberries along the Davao/Bukidnon border too! The strawberries are very sweet and good. Always fresh too! In this Buda area, along the border, you can find all kinds of crops. Father Franco himself grows perhaps a dozen different kinds of tomatoes! All through this area, you can find lots of fresh veggies and fruits along the roadside, and prices are about 1/3 of what you would expect to spend in the City. Not only are the vegetables way cheaper than in the city, the quality is also way better, and the product is very fresh, because it is literally picked only hours before you buy it. Whenever Feyma and I go up to this area, we always come back with plenty of fresh produce in the car!
Another 30 minutes down the road, and we were in Buda, at Father Franco’s place. It was nice to see him, and he was surprised at the number of people that we brought along. He could not complain, though, because we also brought lunch with us to feed everybody! We had made some spaghetti sauce, all with fresh ingredients, and brought french bread and pasta with us. All we had to do was heat up the sauce, cook the pasta, and cut up the bread and we were ready to go. Father, since he is Italian, told me that it was dangerous for us to bring pasta for him, as he was the pasta expert, and our meal might not meet his standards! Thankfully, though, he gave us the Fr. Franco seal of approval when he tasted the meal.
Anyway, it was great to see Father Franco again. It was great also to enjoy a trip with these girls that we have been sponsoring, because it was a whole new experience for them, and witnessing as they took it all in was very rewarding.
You can see more pictures of our trip to Bukidnon by visiting my Facebook Photo Album of the event.