IT’S amazing what a person's imagination and determination can do. With sufficient material, you can do incredible things like writing over a hundred thousand-word novel, producing films of epic-proportions or even creating things straight out of a movie.
With these things in his possession, nothing stopped Benjamin Torregosa Maputi Jr. from making his dream come true, turning something from the fabric of fantasy into reality--building hobbit houses from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.
"Having DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Hobbit-inspired houses in the farm has been a dream since I watched the movie 'Lord of the Rings' and much more inspired to construct it by a friend who also likes to have one in her place," 37-year-old Maputi said.
Benjamin, who is the co-owner of the Mt. Kitanglad Agro-Eco Farm in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, started creating the Hobbit house in May. Although, he said, it took them a long time to finish as he often travels out of the province for nature and wildlife guiding and photography.
"Actually I was planning for 12 houses soon, it would be like a hobbit village someday," Maputi said.
At present, Benjamin has been able to build two Hobbit houses.
According to him, a single Hobbit house can be done with two to three persons in a week, considering the materials are available for use.
Raised surrounded by nature, Benjamin did not find it hard to gather materials he needed for his hobbit houses as most, if not all, comes from the very farm he's been managing and developing.
"The landscape of the farm really suits the hobbit houses and at the same time, what I like in the Hobbit houses, the materials of the Hobbit houses are earthly materials wherein I could just get them out of the farm and I don't need to buy them outside for construction," Benjamin said.
The roof of a Hobbit house is made out of grasses mixed with wood and rocks. The walls, windows and door are also made of the wood and rocks found in the farm's tree plantation and creeks.
The circular door was also designed to reach a height of 4 or 5 feet, making the house look more and more Hobbit-like (as the average height of a hobbit is 2 to 4 feet).
Located within the Kitanglad Agri-Eco Farm, the hobbit houses are situated at 1,300 meters above sea level, which explains how the temperature in the area drops to 16 to 14 degrees Celsius at night. As such, a fireplace was also designed to keep the overnight visitors warm and cozy.
"Malamig (Its cold) especially at night so some people who like to visit the farm and to do overnight, they would experience the fireplace," Maputi said.
"It’s much cooler inside, you don't need air conditioning," he added.
An open house for the Hobbit-inspired house is set to occur on June 12 while on June 15, it will be open for rental for those who wish to stay overnight.
According to Maputi, an overnight stay in one of the Hobbit houses will cost P1,000, wherein beddings, pillows and a breakfast for two are provided.
"A project very affordable for farmers like me, the main purpose of building the Hobbit houses in the farm is to add something interesting for our kababayans to visit our farm for nature and farming exposure and exploration, experiencing our biodiverse farm, forest and bird preserve," Benjamin, who is also the owner of the Maputi Bird Preserve and Kitanglad Nature and Wildlife Photography, said.
Aside from the Hobbit houses, people from outside the province will surely take an interest in seeing the whole Mt. Kitanglad Agro-Eco Farm.
The 22-hectare agri-eco farm is the home of different species of trees, herbs, birds, spiders, and other animals in its biodiverse forest. The farm is also a producer of its locally grown coffee, Kitanglad Brew; abaca fiber; eucalyptus oil; and the infamous Mt. Kitanglad Essence Citronella Oil.
Paying a total of P50 per person for the entrance fee (kids are free), visitors will experience a full, grand, educational tour around the farm while sipping the Kitanglad Brew coffee, which is provided for free.
"The people can learn how to produce the citronella oil, from planting to harvest to the processing of the oil. At the same time they could also learn the coffee processing of the Kitanglad Brew," Maputi said.
The animals in the farm, according to Maputi, were not caged so seeing them up close in their habitat is a possibility upon roving around the farm.
According to Benjamin, in 2016, the Kitanglad Agro-Eco Farm of Bukidnon was awarded as the most outstanding farm of the Philippines.
“The farm is also like a training center for farmers and for people who do research of biodiversity and would like to learn about conservation. So yun po yung parang sikat ang farm dun (that’s what makes the farm known) for conservation training, biodiversity training, biodiversity research and at the same time, farm technologies for farmers technology system," Maputi said.
Aside from the Hobbit houses, there are other living spaces available, such as dormitories, tree houses and camping site, for those who wanted to stay overnight to enjoy more of what the farm offers.
Overnight stay in the dormitories and tents in the camping site will cost P250, while staying in the tree house will cost P750 wherein breakfast for two is available.
"Nature and wildlife and farming exposure experience, people will learn to love nature," he said.