FOR almost two years (after my retirement as a tourism officer), I was not able to have a closer look at the projects I left behind. In social media, we know that there are new interesting places to visit in Patag-Lantawan area like Duyan, Ilaya, Rooster, Lantawan View and more others.

Last week, I went to Patag with Ching Ledesma, Gerle Sulmaca and Leo Canson. It was raining hard when we arrived at the base station, the Old Hospital Building. Ching with her OJTs were there to secure narra seedlings for her environment project being the environment officer.

Tourism Officer Gerle Sulmaca and Leo Canson (landscaper) were there to accompany me to check the strawberry farms of some farmers. It is a part of my work as a consultant on Sociology for Silay City under the administration of Mayor Mark Golez.

Strawberry is a favorite item in the public market of Baguio City. Most of the supplies come from the farms in Trinidad Valley. When I went there, the Igorot lady farm technician (Agriculture graduate) told me, “Sir, select the small, red strawberry. It is sweet. “I was able to obtain more information from her on the strawberry technology.

When I went back to Negros, I talked to my kumpare Yorihisha Goto, a Jap professor who married a lady from Patag. He made a good promise that we will propagate strawberry in Patag with cuttings coming from Japan, Trinidad Valley and Don Salvador Benedicto. Before I retired, Prof. Goto and some farmers in Patag tried building greenhouses already to start a strawberry experiment station.

Now, thousands of potted strawberries are there growing in Patag. The farmers are just starting to learn but I know that in the next five years, we will sell strawberries already in Silay Public Market.

How about the Balay-Kapehan at the lap of the mountain? That is the coffee shop “and more” of Tatay Boning and Nanay Saryo Villarenia, the most outstanding farmer family of Negros Occidental and Western Visayas...and they made it up to the national level.

Balay-Kapehan is an example of the community-based tourism product. The coffee beans are fruits of wild coffee. They were dried and roasted in the traditional way of the villagers. Cups are served hot with muscovado sugar and the best “ibos.” One can also try “tablea eskolate” from backyard cacao. Coffee concoctions come in varieties of preparation with the blessing of the mountain fairies.

When I saw the menu book, I was surprised to see other foods they can offer. I thought only L’ Fisher Hotel can cook those. “Yay, Yay! Tatay Boning, Nanay Saryo and their children can now hold visitors longer in Patag because of their food. What I see best in the menu book is fresh strawberry shake. Really, after all these years ... I miss tourism in Patag.