BRIGHT IDEAS: At The Dioko Farm Resort’s Ecotourism Park

Vice Mayor Celso Dioko inside the mushroom house that produces 30 to 50 kilos of oyster mushroom a day.
Mushroom chips make a very tasty dinugoan.
If you will join the AANI Farm Visit on June 25 (a Sunday), you will appreciate the many bright ideas that you can pick up at the Ecotourism Park of the Dioko Farm Resort in San Joaquin, San Pablo City.

The owner who loves to tell you that he is a high school dropout has come up with a concept that he hopes will encourage young people to get into agriculture as an honest-to-goodness business and livelihood.

Muntinlupa Vice Mayor Celso Dioko (center) and staff in front of the Bahay Kubo. The kubo is big and all around it are grown the 18 vegetables mentioned in the Bahay Kubo song and more.
A showcase of the Stingless Bee colony. Educational for visitors.

The owner is 59-year-old Celso Dioko, a high school dropout who worked for about ten years in Saudi Arabia, Libya and Japan. When he returned in 1990, he went into the hardware business and eventually into the construction business up to this day. In the meantime, he entered the public service and is now the vice mayor of Muntinlupa.

The Dioko Farm Resort has three main sections but we will just focus on the Ecotourism Park because it is where Celso’s bright farming ideas are found and which most farm aficionados would be most interested in. Perhaps, those planning to get into the agritourism business could learn a lot from the Dioko Ecotourism Park. Virgilio, Celso’s brother, is the resident manager.

The Wishing Sounds Well. Not the ordinary wishing well. Instead of water, metallic objects are at the bottom so that when a visitor throws some coins, there will be sounds, unlike when water is inside. The money that will be recovered at the end of the year will be used for scholarship.

As you enter the park, you will come across the Bahay Kubo. Of course, this is not the ordinary bahay kubo that you and I are familiar with. It is quite big and made of wood, steel and concrete. What is remarkable is that all the vegetables mentioned in the “Bahay Kubo song” are growing very well around it. It is very educational for both the kids and adults. For instance, linga or sesame that is rarely grown can be found there heavily fruiting. So are the batao, patani, singkamas and all the rest in the song and more. For instance, you will also see the lemon grass and citronella that are not mentioned in the song.

Virgilio Dioko, resident farm manager, posing with a robust Batao included in the Bahay Kubo song.
Vice Mayor Celso Dioko pointing to the floating veggie garden.

A showcase of stingless bees is right at the entrance. And if you go further, hives are scattered all over the plantation of fruit trees and fruiting vegetables. They are the pollinators. In between the trees are beds of salad veggies, mostly lettuce.

Lettuce and other high-value crops are also cultured inside greenhouses. Some lettuce varieties are grown the conventional way but there are a couple of varieties that are grown the hydroponics way. The other crops inside the greenhouses include oyster mushrooms, Apple melon, tomatoes, cucumber, strawberry and more.

Lettuce grown the hydroponics way.
Plots of lettuce between fruit trees.
Oyster mushroom is one of their interesting crops. They produce 30 to 50 kilos a day which they sell at P120 per kilo. Some are dried and made into chips. The chips, by the way, make very delicious “dinugoan.” Mushroom is also processed into pickles.

The fruit trees are very robust, most likely because they are well nourished with vermicompost produced right in the park. The fruit trees include pomegranate (currently in fruit), Satsuma orange, pummelo, sweet tamarind, different mango varieties, bignay which is good for wine making, and others. Visitors will be able to observe how the nightcrawlers are cultured to produce organic fertilizer for the fruit trees and vegetables..

Vice Mayor Dioko with his fruiting pomegranate.
Jocelyn Mahipus and fruitful Bignay.

Another major crop that Dioko Farm produces is hot pepper. It has a standing crop of 15,000 hills. The harvest is processed into chili powder which has a good local market.

The Dioko Farm Resort has 15,000 hills of hot pepper. The harvest is processed into chili powder.

The farm has an odorless piggery section but that is for another story. Those who would like to join the AANI farm visit on June 25 may contact Jocelyn Mahipus at 0917-242-9785 for further details.

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