Fogs were descending from the forested mountains as I wrote this piece. They moved in a hurry as if they were too late, and acted like giant blankets enveloping the ancient trees to protect them from the coming rain. And yet, from a distance, I heard the arriving march of the winds accompanied by the rustling of the leaves. Voices of farmers’ wives from afar travel across the grasslands asking wayward children to come home. The water in the creek down the valley seemed to have increased the volume of its sounds. Insects, as if on cue, started their chorus in unison as if to say, “the rain has come.”
It is evening time here in Pitcher Plant Farm – in the outskirts of Malaybalay, Bukidnon – where the night is heralded not by the setting of the sun but by the coming of rain.
But the rain is hardly a distraction. It adds to the ambience of this rare tourist destination. In fact, if the rain is absent, then a guest has the right to complain.
For nature lovers, nothing compares to the transcendental experience of listening to the rain as it falls on canopies while you are secure in your wooden reclining chair in the balcony of an eco-house. Solar lights and rain catchments join forces with electric power to provide conveniences like a wifi, a refrigerator, a TV set and microwave oven in a room called “studio” but so spacious that a family of six can dance without moving the furniture.
But there is no need to dance. There is a disc player with a good collection of movies, but there is no need to turn it on. In fact, there is no need to do anything but sit, because nature provides an evening extravaganza like no other. You need to be the audience here. Watch and listen.
And that is the main attraction of Pitcher Plant Farm. It sets a stage for nature to perform its best. For tonight’s gala: the opening dazzling jazz number of the trees to the rhythm of the rain and the gentle wind. It was followed by a short operatic aria courtesy of a nocturnal bird. An elegant bamboo ballet followed. Then, the climax is a prolonged chorus of insects, birds, other noctural creatures and the breeze in a concerto that lasted longer than Handel’s Messiah. This is dinner theater at its best, with buttered asparus, Hungarian sausage, and brown rice courtesy of the hosts: a charming, intelligent and caring young couple who pursued their dreams and their passion with gusto.
There is so much to do in Pitcher Plant Farm, and so many things to learn. In less than an hour, I learned that practically all ferns are edible; that you can make a functional, charcoal-fed oven in your backyard; that there is only one specie of Venus flytrap and it is endemic in North Carolina only; that zipline kits can be ordered online; that a recycled tire makes for a great outdoor set; that asparagus is easy to raise but hard to harvest; and that global children can be raised in a multilingual household in the mountains of Bukidnon.
And I also learned that children everywhere, even if their name is not Sophie, do not want to leave their mother’s side – despite the rain – until they wish so. It is always up to the children; mothers simply obey.
And then, of course, there are the pitcher plants. These carnivorous but lovable creatures are produced and raised here for commercial purposes and personal reasons. The owner, Volker, is a horticulturist and hobbyiest who maintains a plant breeding laboratory in his kitchen and a conservation project in his backyard. Eco-tourism sites should generate a sense of wonder and mystery. That is what these pitcher plant provides – if all things fail. As if nature is capable of failing to wonder.
But for me, the best part of Pitcher Plant Farm – aside from a pleasant chat with Janet, the life partner of Volker and one of the National Young Scientists awardees – happens near midnight. The mountains and the hosts are sound asleep. The rains have stopped and the circadian rhythms changed into lullbyes. The fireflies came out in full force to lighten up the place – as dainty as dancing fairies. And when you turn off the lights, they enter your room guarding you from unpleasant dreams. That alone is worth the overnight fee of P1500.
Will the Venus flytraps and pitcher plants hurt you? No, unless you look like fruit flies. But, just like the pitcher plant, the whole farm consumes you, cleanses you, and absorbs you until you become part of mother nature so much so that you wouldn’t want to leave her side.
And that is how the Pitcher Plant Farm got its name.
For more details please visit the website at Pitcher Plant or look for Volker at this number: 09129492800. They prefer small and intimate groups but also allow big groups with advance reservations/prior arrangements. Volker provides an educational tour while Janet tells stories.