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Saturday, September 14, 2019

OISCA Bago City Training Center: Sericulture a.k.a. Silkworm Farming Tour (Negros Occidental)

Do you know that the Philippines is fortunate to have only two seasons?  Because of the wonderful climate in the Philippines, Organization for Industrial, Spiritual and Cultural Advancement (OISCA) International established its Bago City Training Center in Bago City for Sericulture or Silkworm Farming 31 years ago and just last August 2018, it added Sunflower Farming (around 3,200 sunflowers in a 25-square meter land area) too. The entire farm land occupies 26-hectares of land area!

Without the winter and autumn season, it easy for resilient plants like Mulbery Trees to thrive here.  The Mulberry Tree leave are what silk worms feed on. Why Mulberry leaves?  It emits a fragrant chemical called cis-jasmone which attracts silkworms.

bombyx mori
You can touch and hold them!  They don't bite. =D
There are three variants of the Bombyx Mori Silkworm that are bred and sold by OISCA:

(1) Pure White from China.  These  are the most common kind.  They are bred since ancient times to produce the most quality silk but have shorter life spans

(2)  Tiger Silkworms that are evidently black with white stripes.  These are from South Africa

(3) Zebra Silkworms are a mix of the two to make them more resilient.    

You can buy both the silkworm and the Mullbery plant from OISCA if you want to get into Sericulture.

Cocoon Development

silkworm cocoon
A Perfect Cocoon
After being stuffed and fattened up, the silkworms will be placed in these cocoon holders.  (The cocoon holders can be any texture which their cocoon threads can attach to.) Before they form the cocoon using the liquid protein from their salivary glands, they will first clear their intestines and poop.  This is because they don't want to poop inside the cocoon. How hygienic right?

hatched silkworm cocoon
Defective Cocoon
The silkworms inside have to be killed so they don't grow and hatch out from the cocoon.  If they do, then the cocoons cannot be used to make silk (or only 40% of it can be used to produce silk).

silk moth
These are the moths that were able to grow out of their cocoon - which means they are already past the 10 day growing period so they hatched from their cocoons.  A silk-moth has a life span of only 5 to 10 days which is only enough for it to lay eggs.  A female silk-moth can lay up 500 eggs at a time.

oisca sericulture
After selling the silkworms to the farmers, OISCA buys them back in cocoon-form.  The price is 30 php/kilo which includes the weight of live silk-pupa inside that are yet to be killed.  With this sell-silkworm-and-buy-back-cocoon cycle, Bago City Training Center is able to provide a stable and sustainable livelihood for the farmers and it can also sustain itself.

oica sericulture
Using these machines, the cocoons are heated up to kill the silk-pupa.

oica silkworm farm
All the machines are donated by OISCA-Nagano Japan Chapter.  These are complex machines which require parts from abroad.

oisca bago training center
When the cocoons are boiled, the silk filaments loosen.

oisca bago city
Once the silk filaments loosen, they can reel in the silk threads.  One cocoon can reel in 500-1,000 yards of silk threads.

Negros Silk Producers Association
The silk threads are re-reeled into hanks.

silk hank
This is what one hank looks like.  A hank of silk is 840 yards. 

silk yarn production
They can combine silk thread to make them into silk yarns.

silk yarn
Silk yarns are thicker and tougher.  One pound of silk yarn is composed of around 2,500 piece of cocoons.

kinds of silk threads
These are different kinds of silk.

floss silk
This is actually the first time for us to encounter floss silk.

floss silk
Do you know what it is for?

silk weaving
The last stage of course is the weaving. 

silk weaving loom
They make use of the pedal loom which is typical here in the Philippines. The workers here are paid per piece of produce or pakyawan so they are free to manage their own time and some even study while working.

Finish Products
oisca bago silk showroom
All products produced are sold in the Silk Showroom.  The Silk Showroom and tour are run by volunteers.  These volunteers are trained by OISCA locally and sent to other countries like Japan as well.

cocoon scrubs
The Cocoon Scrubs which contain a protein called "sericin" which is found to improve skin elasticity and several anti-aging factors, including an anti-wrinkle property.  The yellow Cocoon Scrubs is found to have more "sericin" so it is recommended to buy the white one if you have sensitive skin.

sunflower soap
As mentioned above, Bago City Training Center is also famous for its Sunflower FarmingOISCA extracts the sunflower oil and used it to produce products like this Sunflower Hand and Body Liquid.

sericin soap
The products here are well-packaged.

mulberry tea
We bought this Mulberry Tea for only 50 php.  Mulberry tea is hailed as a "Superfood" for having iron, magnesium, calcium (25 times more calcium than milk!), zinc, beta carotene, vitamin b2 and ascorbic acid.  It also has  gallic acid which reduces the blood glucose.  It also helps lower cholesterol and triglycerides and reduce inflammation and ease the pain.  It eliminates the bacterial growth and can treat liver conditions, headache, cough, painful eyes, fever and sore throat.  It also has moranoline (1-deoxynojirimycin) that helps flush out the carbohydrates and starches from the body so that it does not turn to glucose.  It also has  flavonoids and quercetin which reduces the chances of atherosclerosis by lessening the oxidization of cholesterol in blood vessels.

silk footwear
Overall, we Travel Tripsters recommend a tour at Bago City Training Center for their Sericulture a.k.a. Silkworm Farming as one of the best to experience near Bacolod City
You can email them like we did for an appointment for a guided tour (25 php/person).  We are so happy that they reply promptly and are very and accommodating. 

Commuting Guide from Bacolod City
  • From SM you can ride on Pta. Taytay- Cent. Market Jeepney until 7-11 sum-ag
  • From 7-11 Sum- ag you can ask tricycle drivers to bring you to oisca (Regular trip - requires long waiting time: 8-10 php; Special trip: 50 php)
Tips for Those with Private Vehicles
From Bacolod City, you will find the sign of Brgy. Tabunan on the left side of the road as entry point.  There is no visible sign for OISCA Bago Training Center.  Upon entry, you'll soon see a basketball court on your right and that is the entry point to OISCA Bago Training Center's Silk Showroom where you can avail of the tour.

Tour Spots Near OISCA Bago Training Center
  • Laguerta Home of the Vintage Glasses Museum (Tomiko Casiano: [0917] 309-8815) - Brgy. Sum-ag, Bacolod, Negros Occidental, Philippines

OISCA Bago Training Center / Negros Silk Producers Association OISCA-Bago City
Address Brgy. Tabunan, Bago City, Dakbanwa sang Bago, 6101, Negros Occidental Philippines
Budget Per Person 25 per person (purchase is encouraged) OISCA Bago Training Center Map
Payment Options  Cash

Operating Hours Monday to Friday:
(closed on weekends)
8:00 am-11:00am
1:30 pm-4:00 pm
Reservation Required No (Encouraged)
Contact  (0910) 856-0132 | (034)  702-9075

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Meaningful Travel's Poblacion Heritage, Arts and Food Tour (Day Walking Tour)

A few years back, I worked in a law firm located in Poblacion, Makati City so I assumed that I am quite acquainted with the place.   I'm so glad I joined Meaningful Travel's  Poblacion Heritage, Arts and Food Tour because I got to discover that there's so much of Poblacion that I failed to get to know.

Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral
Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral (5539 D.M. Rivera, Makati, Metro Manila)
The Poblacion Tour began at historical site which many fail to notice - the official marker (The Landing of Governor-General of the Spanish East Indies, Don Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and Naming of Makati).  I never thought that there was such an interesting memoir in a public park like the Plaza Casa Hacienda Park.

It was a continuous walking tour so we then proceeded to the Pasig River.  While many would find it a hopeless case, I still observe it whenever I can.  It came to my attention when I had an OJT that had to ride it everyday in order to go home.

Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral
Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral
I always stop and appreciate churches whenever I can so Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral is not new for me.  What I didn't know was that it was one of the oldest churches in the Philippines.  It was founded in 1620.  It was only reconstructed 2 times since: 1.) 1849 - after it was destroyed during the British occupation in 1762 and 2.) January 30, 2015.

Plaza Cristo del Rey
Just infront of the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral is Plaza Cristo del Rey which was formerly San Pedro Makati Cemetary.  The conversion of cemetaries for the dead into plazas for the living is a concept adopted all over the world.

poblacion market
Poblacion Market (J. D. Villena St. Makati, Metro Manila)

What I like about Meaningful Travel's tours is the immersion part.  Because it's a walking tour, you don't skip any detail.  You really get the feel of the area.  Poblacion Market has a lot of tailors, canteens and fresh food vendors. 

house of laurel
House of Laurel (Address: 6013 Manalac, Makati, Metro Manila)

Just a few steps away is the House of Laurel.

house of laurel
Here's you can book an appointment with Rajo Laurel, one of the top Filipino fashion designer for a custom clothing or you can also purchase their Ready-to-wear (RTW) collections.  We were shown its seasonal album.

holy carabao
Holy Carabao (6241 R. Palma, St, Makati, Metro Manila)
We passed by this cute shed type store selling organic goods called Holy Carabao.

glorious dias
Glorious Dias (Pineapple Lab, 6053 R Palma, Makati, Metro Manila)
Then, we checked out Glorious Dias selling antique barongs for as low as 500 php!  It's quite interesting that it only started out as a popout concept.

glorious dias
I just love the unique vibe of the place.

pineapple labs
Just right beside it is Pineapple Labs. During our visit, it had a Pride Month theme.

pineapple labs
As it is my first time to visit Pineapple Labs, I had no idea if this was the usual style of the place.  I sensed a pop art influence with the artists' merchandise being displayed and sold.

pineapple labs
There's a door leading to a hidden room which had a bar and...

pineapple labs

it offers an empty space that is likened to an empty canvass.  Any one can rent it and transform it to anything they want.

Almacen (Location: 5910 Matilde, Makati, Metro Manila)
As it turns into night, we witnessed as Poblacion tranforms into a lively place.

Agimat Foraging Bar and Kitchen
Agimat Foraging Bar and Kitchen (Address: 5972 Alfonso cor, Fermina, Makati, Metro Manila)
We went in to this heritage stone home which turns out to be the most magical bar I have ever seen.   Agimat Foraging Bar and Kitchen is already popular amongst foreigners and locals. 

I was curious to see what was being cooked outside, turns out it is takoyaki

agimat bar makati
Just walking up its stairs was already an amazing build up to the experience.
agimat bar makati
The first thing that got my attention is the huge balete tree.  

agimat bar poblacion
Next to that is the shelves filled with bottles and jar of rare ingredients and concoctions.

Third, was the baristas performance.

the annex house
The Annex House (Address: 5856 Alfonso Street, Makati, Metro Manila)
With just a placard sign, The Annex House is really myserious from the outside.
the annex house poblacion makati
It is so dark that bouncers have to guide you through the staircase with flashlights.  Inside is a typical old home but with a DJ. 

the annex house poblacion makati
I'm told it used to be known as The Workshop but its now venturing into a creative space, bar and even lodging.

Our last stop was for dinner at Cosmic Vegetarian and Vegan Cafe (Address: 2/F 5057 P. Burgos St. Corner Gen. Luna Brgy. Poblacion, Makati).  It was so packed when we got in despite having no apparent signage from the outside.  Just as expected, it was perfect!

Overall, as you can see it, the Meaningful Travel's Poblacion Heritage, Arts and Food Tour is such a fulfilling tour.  I wold recommend it more to foreigners who want to maximize a day's worth of their trip.