Kota Paradiso in Mabitac, Laguna is a hidden jewel of a destination for nature and farm lovers. On the way here, you will catch glimpses of heaven with azure skies, lush tropical mountains, and the largest lake in the Philippines—Laguna de Bay.
Energy mills pepper the route…… so do these mango trees which look like they’re having a perm. When fruits start to emerge, the farmers wrap each one in newspaper to allow the fruit to grow to fruition before insects get first dibs.
Kota Paradiso Entrance (Left side of road from Manila):
This land was originally intended for residential use. Upon discovering the wealth and diversity of endemic trees that have survived multiple generations in this fertile Philippine soil, the owners decided to retain the land’s use to be a natural forest haven for local flora and birds. The owners had to buy back properties which were already sold to buyers who were expecting to build homes here.
Past the entrance, you may be surprised to see the well-paved roads on this farm estate. The well-developed thoroughfare weaving throughout the property makes a farm excursion, even glamping [glamorous camping, Thank you, Joi, for introducing us to this!]] more accessible and enjoyable for those who are not hard-core campers.
Kota Paradiso has since grown as a biodynamic horticulture and agriculture farm employing holistic, organic, ethical agriculture methods. Nearby agricultural schools are starting to work with the farm so students can do hands-on training here.
Our host, Caling Young, is a dynamic multi-faceted businesswoman in different fields, civic leader, mom, wife, and a retro dance enthusiast who gets to be called upon as assistant coach. But when on behalf of her family, she took the helm at Kota Paradiso, she felt a special kind of fulfillment. Her efforts (along with her team’s) at the farm provide livelihood for the local community, guard the precious species of endemic trees from indiscriminate business use, provide an example to farmers not just in the Philippines but in neighboring countries for ethical organic farming, give agriculture/ agronomy education within the region an accessible model that proves it can be done. The farm presents a unique, educational alternative that decongests already-burdened traffic routes to the more famous R&R destinations. And the organic farm yield benefits her family as well as the growing fans who come to know about it. #FoodIsMedicine after all!
In addition to harvesting produce in season, going on mini or maxi forest trail hikes, having marathon runs, doing outdoor exercises with an abundance of clean, fresh air, you can indulge in birdwatching, relaxing massage, and literally farm-to-table dining.
There is also a cafe which is open to the public. (Between Manila and Caliraya, this makes a wonderful pit stop). There are two big greenhouses, a mini aviary, several tunnels, a wide range of organic vegetables, fruits, herbs, some 5,000 robusta coffee trees. There are two houses available for overnight or day-use for corporate planning, retreats, nature-themed trips, sportsfests. The farm estate is still growing so you can check back periodically for new additions in family or corporate activities.
Come along with us on our visit to Kota Paradiso! Here is a photo journal, photos pooled with Rica de Jesus, Malu Ortiz, Cindy Porter, Joi Cutter, and a few from the Kafe Paradiso Facebook Page. Ready, set, farm!
The first house:
Our delicious organic cucumber welcome drinks:Saying hello to our fair-feathered friends: Macaw, Cuckatoo, Red Parrot.Into the woods we went for a forest trail hike.
The hike was just long enough and short enough. We came to the Second House.
Here is a photo duel between Malu and Rica:
The open gazebo in front of the house:A quick preview of our forthcoming refreshments served as good motivation to go out and explore again.
There are two bedrooms with en suite bathrooms:
Bok Choy Harvesting Demo from Farmer Extraordinaire, Caling Young:
Exploring the varieties of vegetables, herbs, flowers…
My dream come true to visit a coffee plantation [There are some 5,000 robusta coffee trees here.]
Horsie comes to say hello:
Horselfie of Joi:
Bird and Nest- Watching for the Brahmini Kites who have made Kota Paradiso their home.
Cindy was amazed at our Philippine Makahiya (Shy) Plant which closes its leaves when you touch it:
We moved to the other side of the mountain to see different fruits, herbs, chickens, and pigs.
Free-range chickens and black pig:
By this time, after all the walking we did, we earned our lunch. Manong was cutting open the coconuts for juice (coconut water). This is as.fresh.as.it.gets with that slight sweetness that just tickles your taste buds and lightness that fully quenches your thirst.
The coconut half-shells were used as bowls for Organic Free-Range Local Chicken Binakol, cooked with the coconut water as its broth base that blends deliciously with the local chicken’s natural flavor and mixes in with sayote and sili (pepper) leaves. You get to scrape the coconut meat as part of the soup’s flavor and feel. Ang sarap!
We had freshly picked vegetables for our Insalada, Sauteed Bokchoy, Sweet and Sour Talong (eggplant). We also had Bangus, Inihaw na Liempo, with the Filipino table staple: rice.
After our freshly cooked lunch, bestselling author Malu gave us a short devotion about inner beauty and marriage. What I remember from her teaching is “don’t gossip, ask the Lord to transform you from inside out, and when your husband wants sex, say Yes, yes, yes.”
We visited Kafe Paradiso (where our food came from):
They have food specialties for sale.
Kafe Paradiso Menu:
Fresh delivery from Mang Beekeeper: Honey on the Hive:
Foot Massage Spa at the Ground Floor of Kafe Paradiso. Their smiles say it all.
Genesis 1:11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.
Contact Persons: Jhona 8487202 09178146089; Girmelyn 09166907130