Just bee-cause

Couldn’t help the title. Hehe.

If there’s one great thing about hanging out with my kid all the time is that when you ask her point blank if she wants to go on an adventure, the answer is a big loud, “yes! Let’s go!”

Finally! Somebody who knows how to ride the wave of spontaneity! With that, I figured we could finally see the bees today! But first, some lunch. Lunch at Tagaytay would be much too late for my little girl, so we made a pit stop at Petron Mega Station.

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Happy Meal toys. That is how McDonald’s is winning over my daughter. Jolli who?

I decided to try the chicken a la king. It looked like a single giant piece of chicken nugget with a glop of Knorr’s soup pretending to be gravy on top of it. Ok lang siya, but I probably won’t order it again.

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Try to bring your own cutlery with you. It’s a small step to lessening the trash we produce.

Wish I’ve done this sooner, but this is a practice that I hope to continue until I die. I bring a fork and spoon and chopsticks set in my bag. The fork and spoon are kiddie-sized – it was born out of the need to properly feed Akira when she was younger when we’d eat out and some of the restaurants didn’t have teaspoons.

The set we are using now I got from Invitation House, and it also comes with stainless steel chopsticks in its own tin case. It’s awesome except the tin case developed some rust inside already, so I need to get a new container. Maybe a simple pouch this time.

This particular McDonald’s branch only had plastic cutlery, and it felt immensely satisfying to tell the person behind the counter that we wouldn’t be needing them, thank you very much. Besides, it’s such a hassle to dig into fried chicken with plastic spoons and forks.

Here we are a month or so ago in Little Tokyo with our Evangelion chopsticks. We’ve been gifted with some really cool chopsticks like this and rarely use them at home (except when we’re feeling fancy with Lucky Me beef noodles), so now we get to use them a lot when we eat out and don’t have to use the wooden disposable ones. It’s a shame to use them once and throw them away, so good on the Japanese and Chinese restaurants that don’t use disposable chopsticks (or ivory ones for that matter).

With Akira full and with the high noon heat, it was the perfect time to hit the road since she’ll be able to nap properly.

After an hour and a half of driving, I decided to make a coffee stop in a place that I’ve driven past several times but haven’t really checked out – Gourmet’s Cafe.

SO many goodies for sale. I buy a lot of their products in regular supermarkets, so it’s nice to see the entire range of what they offer. I believe their farm is in the same compound, and they make the condiments and pasta sauces here too. We should come back, do the farm tour, and buy some potted herbs too, and see if they’ll thrive with my black thumb!

Pity I was still full as well, I didn’t even get to try that tempting dark chocolate cupcake or the silvanas, but a glass of their iced coffee is just what I needed at around 3 in the afternoon. Feeling refreshed, and with a bag of Gourmet coffee beans, it was time to go to Ilog Maria!

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If you have extra time on a Tagaytay trip, do stop over Ilog Maria Honeybee Farm. It’s not exactly in Tagaytay, it’s in Silang, Cavite, but it’s a nice little addition to a Tagaytay trip that often revolves around eating or pasalubong (souvenir) shopping.

Ilog Maria products may not look like much in terms of packaging (I think the owners did it on purpose to keep pricing competitive and to keep the focus on the quality of the products), but you’ll be hard pressed to look for somebody who wasn’t happy with an Ilog Maria product. I think people try them once and then they become converts. Their products are among some of the best organic health and beauty products I’ve tried.

It used to be that you can only buy them at the store in the farm or if you place a bulk order with them, but nowadays you can also buy Ilog Maria products (though not all) at Sesou Nature Source stores in major malls everywhere or in Echostore branches. My top favorites are the soaps, the shampoo, the massage oil, the lip balm, the honey leather wax for leather products, and of course the virgin honey. The beauty products are mostly available in malls, but the leather wax you can only get from them directly, I think.

I gifted a friend their lip balm for Christmas, and she road tested it on a trip to South Korea in winter. Passed with flying colors. Her friends kept asking her for some, and they were all asking her where she got the lip balm. It made me really happy when she told me that story.

The honey wax is the only thing I’ve been using on my leather bags and shoes for years now. Since the first time I bought the small tub to give it a try, I never saw the need to buy commercial leather polish again. It always did the job, just put some on a rag and rub away, and it smells so much nicer too.

The virgin honey admitedly is a bit of a splurge. It costs more than 300 pesos a bottle, but I think the ones in Healthy Options are still more expensive, so might as well go local. I became more conscious about the quality of honey to buy since we developed a love for homemade fruit shakes from the time I was pregnant. We put honey on our oatmeal too, so I don’t want dodgy quality for something we use a lot.

Surprisingly, genuinely pure honey is hard to come by. I’ve read somewhere that most of the honey available in supermarkets are hardly pure or natural even if they claim to be, so your best bet is to get honey from a known bee farm. The real deal comes with a wide array of health benefits, so it pays to be more conscientious of where stuff actually come from.

Obviously, a trip to Ilog Maria usually just means shopping , but not today. My kid is here to see some bees!

She wasn’t afraid at all to get real close. We tried to look for the queen, but we couldn’t spot her.

Ilog Maria is an odd little place that’s really known for the shop, except I guess for the people who have taken a proper tour there. There are lots of random animals around. This is a big hit with my animal loving kid, so we pet the dogs and said hello to the duck and bunnies.

I just realized there were a lot of these rabbit enclosures around the farm. The caretaker said they all came from one pair given to the owners as a gift. All I could think of was if it was also possible to have rabbits spayed or neutered.

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I also learned that that the bees we’re used to seeing – the ones with the yellow and black striped bodies – are imported and not native to the country at all. Ilog Maria Bee Farm also has native bees on site, but they kind of freak me out more, to be honest. They look more like black ants with wings.

Now that we’ve seen all the bees and animals, and I have an eco bag with lots of yummy smelling soaps, it was time to go home.

Ilog Maria Honeybee Farm has long been a popular tourism site, but I believe it still has more to offer as an agricultural-tourism spot. Maybe all the interesting stuff happens when you call them up for the tour, where you learn more about the important role of bees in food security or even what makes organic soap better, but surely there should be something more for the droves of people who come visit just to shop. There’s a big opportunity to educate visitors on the sad plight of bees, for instance, or to encourage them to pursue an agricultural business like bee keeping.

Farm environments and farm animals are such big hits with children, they can even have a mini petting zoo, or let visitors feed the ducks and chickens already roaming around. Imagine if the place had tons of flowers everywhere, and there were staff available to show visitors around.

The very first time I visited Ilog Maria Honeybee Farm, the hidden road going there wasn’t even paved yet. Here’s hoping there are developments in store, and as with most good things in life, they just like to take it slow.

 

 

 

 


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