During J’s first few months, he was able to have his first McDonald’s visit, his first Bonchon trip, his first visit to SM Megamall and Trinoma. The rest of the time, we stayed at home – trying to learn the ropes of parenthood and multitasking. After taking him to nearby areas in the metropolis, we decided we were ready to take him a little farther – to Angat, Bulacan to visit the Enchanted Farm. Last October 7, we celebrated together with hundreds of Gawad Kalinga volunteers at the farm for the second day of the GK Bayanihan Expo.
The Enchanted Farm is a village university – another venue for young people to learn about social innovation. Young social entrepreneurs partner with members of the GK community in developing quality Filipino products. Efforts to bring back the interest and passion of the young in agriculture is strong, particularly with the youth from the village. The desire for countryside development was enough to reassure me of any doubts I may have had for moving to the province.
It is amazing how the community and the farm itself has changed over the past two years. In early 2010, the Enchanted Farm was just a dream. The GK village was there – like all of our communities, slowly working towards completing and running the programs for child and youth development, health and productivity. The structures were there but were also in need for some repainting and repair. It was a simple village but it had a lot of heart.
Today, the community proudly has a beautiful multi-purpose hall, a souvenir shop, a cafe, a charming treehouse, heart-shaped pool and a stunning bamboo palace. All of these help the residents and their partners in the social enterprises that are established in the farm. The first to take a risk and invest in the village’s journey to becoming the Enchanted Farm was Human Nature with their demo-farm and display kubo. Now, different businesses thrive at the farm – Gourmet Keso (the best cheese ever!), Red Carpet (curtains and pillow cases that are very nicely sewn), and the Grassroots Kitchen.
Dorms have been put up to accommodate the hundreds of volunteers that have started to pour in from France and Singapore. Amazing how the magic of the farm is appreciated not only by Filipinos but by people from all over the world.
As part of its 7-point platform, GK aims to make the villages tourist spots as well. This is not just because we feel that the colourful houses are beautiful areas that demand attention, but because the communities themselves overflow with positive stories of hope and the resilient Filipino spirit. By stepping into the villages, we hope to share and inspire those that visit to deepen their understanding of the poor and their plight and how their paths (whether as Filipinos or guests from another country) intertwine with the lives of those from the village.
Seeing how the Enchanted Farm has come together in Bulacan is truly amazing. I cannot wait to see how the Enchanted Farms in Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur will develop. Exciting times!