Monday, January 14, 2019

Use of Mini Drone for Research Presented at the 5th Scientific Forum on Plant Biodiversity

Jabez flying the Tello inside the room.
Photo by Ara Bagunu.
Last Friday, January 11, we had the opportunity to share our experience in using the Ryze Tello drone as a tool for research at the 5th Scientific Forum on Plant Biodiversity at the Institute of Biological Sciences (IBS) in UPLB. The event is the brainchild of Dr. Inocencio Buot, Jr. It was created to provide a platform for his students to share and present their research in the fields of botany, ecology, and environmental science. The forum is organized by the staff of the Plant Systematics Laboratory of IBS. 

"Let's Democratize Drones! Using the Ryze Tello Drone as a Tool for Ecological Farm Design & Landscape Ecology Research" was the topic we presented during the forum. We explained how photos and videos taken from a cheap and yet powerful drone like the Tello can benefit researchers, students, and farmers alike. A live demo of the Tello was conducted inside the room. We also showed Brian Sulicipan's documentary film on permaculture at the end of the presentation. 

Thanks to Ryze Robotics, DJI, and Intel for creating this small drone for hobbyists as well as student researchers such as ourselves. Farmers will also be able to use this drone for their farm designing, planning, and monitoring.
PRPH researchers, Jabez & Ara, with Dr. Buot of IBS

Special thanks to the other five presentors for sharing their awesome researches with us. Kudos to Dr. Buot, Prof. Marj, Ren and the Plant Systematics Lab family and the BiodiverStewards FB group for making this event possible!

Sample photo using the Ryze Tello

Latest Vlog Series on YouTube, Facebook Showcases Permaculture Practices in the Philippines

The PRPH vlog squad. Photo by Dada Mercado.
Last Tuesday, January 8, Permaculture Research PH (PRPH) premiered its first video blog (vlog) episode on its YouTube Channel and Facebook Page

The first episode entitled, Permaculture Design Using Coconuts, features Nenieveh "Weng" and Bittie Glinoga of Glinoga Organic Farm in Pitogo, Quezon. 

The 4-minute vlog briefly discussed how the farm was able to maximize its abundant coconut resources to create multi-functional compost bins, berms, and beehives. 

As of this writing, the video has been shared 65 times on Facebook. 

Each vlog episode features a different theme highlighting a specific permaculture design principle. The themes for the vlogs include design ideas, farm tours, and interviews. Episode 1 is an example of a "design idea" using the principle of 'observe and interact.'

The vlogs are hosted and narrated in Filipino (with corresponding subtitles) by researchers, Ara Bagunu and Jabez Flores. 

Upcoming vlogs will premier on YouTube and Facebook at 8 PM every Tuesday and Thursday. Season 1 is scheduled to have 16 episodes from January to February 2019. 

PRPH would like to acknowledge the contributions of our cameramen (Brian Sulicipan, Michael Reyes, Jr., Erickson Tabayag), drone operators (Jim Cano, Dada Mercado), researchers (Seaver Choy, Sherry Anne Gocheco), reviewers (Cesar Ilao, Myrna Flores), and respondents for making this vlog series possible.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

PRPH Launches Second Crowdfunding Campaign at

Photo grabbed from the Permaculture Research PH Instagram page.
First of all, we would like to give a very big thank you to everyone who believed in us and supported our project last year. Your kind donations have come a long way!
Now this fundraiser is a continuation of our previous crowdfunding campaign, Designing Food Security. To those new to the blog, please watch the short documentary film about our research here. (the film, directed by Brian Sulicipan, won 2nd place in the DOST Indie-Siyensya Science Film Competition last November 28).
This year we will be analyzing data from the 12 sites we have visited last year. We will also be uploading our 16-episode vlog series on permaculture practice in the Philippines this January until February.
The research team is currently composed of four people--a project leader, two research assistants, and a student assistant. Again, we need your help to support the team's daily activities and office work. 
Click here to donate any amount to our research team. Thank you!

Friday, January 4, 2019

Documentary on Permaculture Wins 2nd Place in Science Filmmaking Contest

The In-betweens of Nature, Food, and People from Brian Sulicipan on Vimeo.

Last November 28, Brian Sulicipan and Tel Delvo of the Ambag-Ambagan Collective won the 2ND BEST FILM AWARD for the film "The Land will Grow, the Food we'll Eat" (a.k.a The In-Betweens of Nature, Food, and People) at the Department of Science and Technology's (DOST) 3rd Indie-Siyensya Filmmaking Competition held at the Philippine International Convention Center. 

Brian Sulicipan and Tel Delvo. Photo by Jabez Flores.
The theme for the Open Category was "What the Country Needs Now." The film documents the data gathering phase of the Permaculture Research PH team and features permaculture designers from Glinoga Organic Farm, Cabiokid Foundation Inc., Tara Farms PH, Edu Foronda, Lorenza's Garden & Food Forest Farm, Philippine Permaculture Association, and Aloha Ranch and Organic Farm

Thank you to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Indie-Siyensya team for acknowledging the importance of permaculture research in the Philippines! 

The research team with the winners. Photo by Ara Bagunu. 
The research team with Brian and Tel before the event. Photo by Jabez Flores.

Layog Country Farm: Learning from the Wisdom of Indigenous People

Focus group discussion with members of the Layog clan. Photo by Michael Reyes, Jr.

Our last destination for our permaculture journey is LayogCountry Farm in Tadian, Mountain Province. We were supposed to visit in mid-October but Typhoon Ompong prevented us from doing so, thus the trip was moved to November.

We travelled by van via Ilocos Sur (a first for all of us) and arrived a few hours before our expected time of arrival. We were greeted by Tex Layog, a proud Igorot and member of the Layog clan. He is the brother of Flordelina Layog Olaussen (or Flor)—a permaculture designer who studied at Cabiokid, Nueva Ecija together with Enrico Navea of Lorenza’s Garden and Food Forest Farm in Isabela. Flor, an OFW, was our initial contact for the trip but she had to go home to Norway to be with her family.

The farm entrance. Photo by Jabez Flores.
We weren’t the only visitors in the farm at that time. There was a trio of American students and a German couple volunteering at the farm. They found the farm on the internet. After a delicious lunch of pinikpikan (a special chicken dish for special occasions) we proceeded with our usual farm tour with Layog cousins Jeremy and Max. This was the highest permaculture farm we have visited (around 900 meters above sea level) and going up and down the mountain slopes was very challenging! As we went up the mountain side we passed by native pigs, vegetable beds, a fish pond, fruit orchards, lots of coffee trees, and native trees we couldn’t even recognize. As the air was becoming thin, we finally arrived in Olaussen Permaculture Park—Flor’s pet project bearing her surname. It was a beautiful sprawling garden strip with a rock garden at the end. The team decided to gather data from this area because we couldn’t study the 27-hectare property in 3 days!

Culture and food. These were the highlights of our trip here in Mountain Province. The Igorots are permaculture designers and organic farmers by default. They may not have a Permaculture Design Course (PDC) certificate but they have a special relationship with nature. It speaks to them and they listen. They know how to respect nature and the food they eat. And they know how to give back what they take. This natural cycle of life is already part of their culture.

Researchers, Ara and Jabez, gathering data at Olaussen Permaculture Park. Photo by Michael Reyes, Jr.
The question now is do indigenous people still need to learn permaculture? Do they need to hear about a new concept? The answer is both no and yes. Permaculture is mainly derived from indigenous knowledge and is packaged for the consumption of our homogenized modern society. This was a point made by Marit Parker in her article 'Why My Farm isn't a Permaculture Farm.' Permaculture brings people back to nature. Even indigenous people are not immune to the lure of modern living, that’s for sure. But what permaculture can offer to people like the Igorot is affirmation that what they have done in the past is certainly the way forward toward a sustainable and regenerative future. What we may call ‘permaculture’ today is simply  the ‘culture’ of some people.

Orientation with Lex Layog and the volunteers and staff of the farm. Photo by Michael Reyes, Jr.

The vlog episode for Layog Country Farm will premier at 8 PM on YouTube and Facebook on February 21.

Side Note: On our way back home, we passed by monocropped farms of high value crops in Benguet. It was a stark contrast to the permaculture design of Layog Country Farm which blends practices such as agroforesty and organic farming. It’s disheartening to see whole mountains converted to single crop desserts. We hope that Layog Country Farm’s success would influence its neighbors to practice sustainable and regenerative ways of food production.

Dumingag: A Sneak Peak into the Organic Town of Zamboanga del Sur

Aerial photo of Umaleng Organic Farm. Photo by Dada Mercado.
Dumingag is a small town in Zamboanga del Sur. It's the lone permaculture site representing the Mindanao region in our quest to document projects all over the country. And due to expensive airfare and a limited budget, we only have one full day to do our data gathering. Like all great adventures, we had our share of challenges. We missed our early morning flight to Ozamiz City so we had to find another flight just to push through with the trip. Thankfully, we found a late morning flight to Dipolog City  and arranged for a van to take us to Dumingag--still a two-hour drive from the airport. By the way, Seaver and Sherry arrived earlier because they arrived at the airport just in time for the Ozamiz flight.

Joan Pacalioga Abejuela and mother, Elgyn Pacalioga at Bukid ni Bogs. Photo by Dada Mercado. 
We arrived in Greenville (an organic-themed compound of the Department of Agriculture) late in the afternoon. Having lost valuable time due to the airport mishap, we proceeded to interviewing our host, Joan Pacalioga Abejuela, and a couple of school principals in one of the compound's many offices. They showed us a video of what Dumingag is all about (watch their One World Award 2012 video here) and discussed the town's strategy called the General People's Agenda (GPA). The idea of incorporating permaculture into the GPA is an on-going project with the Philippine Permaculture Association.

The visitor's lounge at Umaleng Organic Farm. Photo by Dada Mercado.
Joan toured us around town and showed us some of their projects such as the Organic Training Post (OTP) showcasing Dumingag Organics and other local products like Bukid ni Bogs (read his blog article here). 

On the second day, Joan and her husband took us up the mountain to see Bukid ni Bogs. Unfortunately, Bogs was not there but we did meet his mentor, Elgyn Pacalioga--Joan's mom and the permaculture designer behind Umaleng Organic Farm, the site we decided on studying for one full day.

Dried adlai to be used for making organic soaps. Photo by Dada Mercado.
Beautifully designed with proper permaculture zoning, mixed cropping, and amazing functional aesthetics, Umaleng is Girlyn's "laboratory" for experimenting with different designs. The farm has become the family's pet project and is also the site for the organic soap production of the Bukid ni Bogs brand. They teach guests how to make soaps for free!

We finished gathering data from the farm by late afternoon. Then we were told that we had to leave for Ozamiz City in the evening so we won't miss our early flight home the next day.

Our visit was very brief. But we enjoyed this magical place. Thanks again to our gracious hosts! Hope to be back soon!

The vlog episode for Dumingag will premier at 8 PM on YouTube and Facebook on February 19.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Organic Farmers Practice Permaculture in Silang, Cavite

Aerial view of the vegetable garden. Photo by Jabez Flores
After spending a week in Visayas (Antique and Cebu), the team went to Silang, Cavite to visit an organic farm called Kai Farms. Hidden on top of the cool foggy mountains of Cavite, the farm is well-known to backyard gardeners and organic farming enthusiasts. By the way, the road going to the farm is quite challenging due to construction, we wouldn't suggest visiting on a rainy day! Upon our arrival, we were greeted by Thomas Caristea (or Kuya Thom), the farm's 'earth leader'--he supervises a team of around 13 farmers. He led us to his brother's house where we would stay for the next three days since the farm does not have accommodations...yet. After settling in, he brought us to the farm which was just a few minutes walk from the house. 

Kuya Thom being interviewed. Photo by Jabez Flores
Kuya Thom introduced us to the farmers and the two newly hired young agriculturists, Yancy and Camiel. It was only their third day in the farm. The group was offered some tea and we had a long chat in the gazebo before we started the tour.

Rolled 'saba' banana leaves to be used as seed packets. Photo by Jabez Flores
During the tour, we noticed that the farmers were rolling leaves of bananas into small seedling containers. They told us that they no longer use plastic in the farm that's why they came up with the banana packets. After visiting ten permaculture sites, this was the first time we saw this being practiced.

The farm was a textbook example of a permaculture design--small and compact, integrated and stacked, and zoned clearly according to use and function. As for gathering data, it was challenging for us because so many things are planted in very tight spaces. Which is thrilling, actually.

Young agriculturists, Camiel and Yancy, rolling banana leaves. Photo by Jabez Flores
On our last day, the owner, Karla Delgado, visited the farm to pick up vegetable deliveries together with her friends, Asha and Lourdes Villaraza. We had the chance to see how the vegetables were being packed using banana leaves. Then we all had a wonderful lunch together. 

We would like to say thank you to Amena Bal for connecting us with Karla and Kuya Thom. We hope you would be at the farm next time! Thank you also to Karla, Kuya Thom, and the rest of the staff for accommodating us for three days.

The vlog episode for Kai Farms will premier at 8 PM on YouTube and Facebook on February 14--Valentine's Day!

A garden salad harvested fresh from the farm. Photo by Jabez Flores

Use of Mini Drone for Research Presented at the 5th Scientific Forum on Plant Biodiversity

Jabez flying the Tello inside the room. Photo by Ara Bagunu. Last Friday, January 11, we had the opportunity to share our experience in...