A passion for farming has pushed a Cebuano banker to develop a unique beach resort-cum-farm in Borbon town, 82 kilometers north of Cebu City.
“If you love what you do, you will learn to be resilient. If you fall, you should learn to get up,” said 53-year-old Butch Cabatingan, who toured reporters around his farm recently.
His day job in the United Coconut Planters Bank keeps him in Cebu City, but after Friday, he’s a weekend farmer.
Borbon Beach Farm, spread in a four-hectare property, aims to introduce farming as a way to unwind and connect with nature, all in the comfort of an exclusive resort.
The tour was arranged by the Department of Agriculture as part of the celebration of World Food Month.
Aside from enjoying the usual beach attractions like snorkeling and scuba diving, when the project is completed, guests will be able to join farmers in harvesting fresh produce, learn how to milk and feed the goats and plant trees.
At present, only one “casita” stands on a promontory overlooking the sea, rented out at P3,500 a day. Clear glass panels encase all four sides of the Zen-inspired cottage with its thatched roof.
Cabatingan said they will start building nine more rooms next year, an expansion that will cost at least P50 million.
“We don’t sell a room here. We sell a lifestyle,” he said.
To ensure a sense of “exclusivity,” each cottage will have its own kitchen and personal spa services.
The idea of his business venture sprouted from his passion in farming, inspired by his grandfather.
Though he studied management and made a career as a banker, Cabatingan said that he would never forget his love for planting.
“Even if our land is stony, I always believed that we could transform it into something green and productive,” he said.
Cabatingan said the farm would allow guests to pick ad prepare vegetables ad fruits from the resort’s organic garden.
He started intercrop farming the family’s barren five-hectare land in barangay Tabunan eight years ago. He sought advice from the Department of Agriculture on how to make crops grow. Today the farm is a bulk producer of papayas and bananas of Cebu city supermarkets, supplying 500 kilos of papaya a week at P15 a kilo. Banana harvests vary by the month.
Cabatingan said the growing market demand has led them to continue expanding the farm.
“I already have the land, so I make use of it,” he said.
The farm also has 250 heads of Anglo goats, which they sell in the Visayas. The poultry has 24,000 broiler chickens. The goats are fed with grass from the property and banana leaves.
Farm animal waste is converted into fertilizer through vermin composting. The fertilizers are used in the vegetable farm, which grows chilli peppers, eggplants and kangkong.
“Through this, we lessen our carbon footprint and since our products are free from chemical fertilizers, its healthier,” said Cabatingan.
The resort has 20 personnel, all hired from local families in Borbon. They are taught to prepare buko pie and cassava cakes as a source of extra income.
Some children of the resort staff are beneficiaries of scholarships.
“You also have to take care of your community to be successful,” said Cabatingan. /Candeze R. Mongaya, Reporter