Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Walk In The Grasslands of Cavite, Philippines

June is the first month of the monsoon season. A week has passed since the announcement of a major typhoon named "Chedeng," was headed for the Tagalog region where Cavite is located. The storm brought some coolness, and lots of rain, but right after "Chedeng" exited the Philippines, and headed for Taiwan, the heat went back up to about 39*C. This heat, is joined by an intense humidity, that feels like my blood is being pumped out of my body. The sweat falls down my face like large wet beads, soaking my shirt, and pants as if someone doused me with warm water. Even at high noon when the sun is right above, the heat combines with the extreme humidity, to form a steam. The air feels like I am standing above a rice cooker. The earth gives out an odor, which locals call "singaw ng lupa" in Tagalog. This is an intense evaporation of the superficial water from the ground, that is softened after soaking from previous rains.

Silang is located at the foothills near the highlands of Tagaytay Ridge. At the highest point, one can see the peak where Imelda Marcos built a "palace-in-the-sky" with a 360 degree sweeping view of Taal Lake, Laguna de Bay, Balayan Bay, and the skyscrapers of Metro-Manila.

Walking around noontime, the humidity from these hilltops is not as severe as down in city of Metro Manila. I could bear the heat and the humidity as I strolled up and down a small biker's pathway to see the 100 hectares of grazing land. A gentle breeze flowed ever so slightly, and the expanse of green grass before me, is a feast for tired eyes.

I love animals, and feel bad that these very happy, contended cows will someday end up in the meat markets. I really wondered what happened to the Magnolia Dairy Farm that during my youth produced the best, fresh milk, and cheese found in Metro-Manila. Asian people are not found of milk or cheese. Perhaps Filipinos are highly lactose intolerant, and prefer meat to milk, but the grasslands in this area are plentiful and rich. I am sure if more of these pastures are kept for the grazing of cows, the country will not have to import milk powder, or frozen fresh milk, butter or cheese. There is plenty of land here. If a foundation could be set up to buy this land, the community of farmers in this province can form a coop, and start a dairy farm within this same area. Otherwise, the land will end up as housing projects.

There are several dozens of newly born calves and baby goats playing and grazing near their mothers. The mother cows and goat's udders were loaded with milk.

These goats and cows were full of milk. Imagine that the Philippines imports milk powder from China, New Zealand and Australia, and right here in this pasture, there are many lactating females. No one seems to care to make use of all their converted nutrients from these luscious, green grasses. The land is still unpolluted because the grazing animals have lots of room to move around. The ratio that would be suitable is to space the cows, about 1 cow per hectare. In 100 hectares, 10 cows, and 2 bulls would quickly multiply to about 100 head in a few seasons. This land is way up on the foothills of Cavite, right before Tagaytay. The weather is much cooler, and the ground cleaner. I did not feel stress to walk around the property.

In the distance, I noticed a few urban housing projects going up. Unfortunately, I was told, this beautiful grassland would eventually be developed into another subdivision. I enjoyed this day, for as the Philippine real estate market predicts an increase in demand for middle class houses, there is little time before more of the beautiful pastures of Silang, Cavite countryside will be gone. In just a few years, this peaceful setting of tranquil cows and goats feeding on a carpet of green, will end up once more, as part of the urban sprawl.