DANIEL S. BOLONG and his wife, the former Josefa Talavera, were both veterinarians who early in their careers decided to farm on their own. After the Second World War, they started to develop very rocky lands not normally used for farming along the coast of Paraoir, Balaoan, La Union.
FIRST COMMERCIAL POULTRY -They put up the first commercial poultry farm in the Ilocos and also raised pigs and cattle for meat and milk. They formulated animal feeds not only for their own use but also for sale to the small poultry and hog raisers in surrounding towns. They were the pioneers in making ipil-ipil leaf meal (circa 1950s) as ingredient in livestock and poultry feeds.
The last time we visited them in 1989, they were collecting 2,000 eggs daily from their layer farm, had a 1,500-head piggery, a dairy operation with a number of Holsteins on the milk line, a cattle fattening and breeding project with a few hundred head, and production of assorted fruits and vegetables.
The Bolongs have about 30 workers doing various assignments. Some of them live right on the farm while others stay in their homes nearby.
INCENTIVE SCHEMES – One of their practices that others may want to copy is their scheme of giving incentives to their workers. Sometime in 1986 they thought of helping their workers make more money by doing an extra job – taking care of a calf until it is big and fat enough for slaughter in a year or less. The animal is tethered right on the farm where the employee works, using improved grasses and legumes as feed. These forage crops abound in all the farm projects that are a few kilometers apart.
The worker does not spend anything. he just sees to it that the animal is fed and properly managed. When the animal is turned over to the worker, a value is indicated, based on the current price obtaining in the market. When the animal is finally sold, the original value is deducted from the selling price and what remains is divided equally between Dr Bolong and the caretaker.
GOOD SIDE INCOME – During the first two years of their incentive scheme, the workers made about P3,500 to P4,000 per animal. This is no small amount for an ordinary farm worker; that is giving him an extra P300 a month. If he takes are of two head at a time, that would even give him a much better side income.
In the beginning, Dr. Bolong gave out only males for fattening. When we interviewed him, he had just started dispersing the females for breeding purposes. The animal will be kept for as long as it is capable of giving birth. Like in the case of the fattener, the animal is given a value when it is turned over to the worker. Every time the animal gives birth, the worker will get half of the value of the calf as his share. Then finally, when the cow is no longer able to breed and has to be sold for meat, the worker will also get half of the selling price after deducting the original cost of the calf.
MALUNGGAY ADDS INCOME – There is also another project at the Bolong Farm started to help the workers’ families augment their incomes. All over the farm, along roads and in between patches of napier and other crops, are grown thousands of malunggay trees which are regularly fertilized so they will produce a lot of leaves and fruits. The leaves and fruits which are favorite vegetables of the Ilocanos are sold at a good price in the market, not only in La Union but as far as Ilocos Norte.
Taking care of the harvesting and marketing are the wives of the workers. For this, they are entitled to 25 percent of the gross proceeds. This could amount to a substantial sum because sales could run up to thousands of pesos every month.
MULTI-LAYERED – Multi-layered planting is also practiced at the Bolong Farm. In some parts one will see the towering malunggay trees. Thriving under them are fruitful papayas which are providing good income to the farm. If the ripe fruits are not sold, they are conveniently fed to the pigs. Down below are the lower-growing vegetables such as pechay, tomatoes, beans and finger peppers. All these are also saleable in the Ilocos market.
TICK CONTROL – One more practical idea we learned during our trip to the Bolong Farm was how to control ticks in cattle by growing native chickens and allowing them to roam around the cattle shed. The chickens learn to pick the ticks and thus free the animals of the pesky pest.
SILAGE – In those early years, the Bolongs already practiced making silage out of grasses for feeding to their animals, especially during the summer months when green grass is scarce. This is one technique that other farmers should learn so they can take care of more animals than usual.