Imagine a huge 6 hectare property right smack in the middle of Tagaytay quite close to popular Picnic Grove and People's Park on the stretch of Tagaytay - Calamba Road.
The owner Ms. Gracia "Gratchi" Bautista Nuval and her good looking son Geoffrey welcomed us to their great place and even prepared a sumptuous dinner. On the menu is all Mushrooms which the matriarch is also proud about. They grow em right in the farm and they even teach locals, from Metro Manila and nearby provinces the art of cultivating Mushrooms.
Geoffrey Nuval, Rod Magaru (of RodMagaru.com) Ms. Gratchi Nuval, Ruth Floresca (of MommyWrites.blogspot.com), Jeman (of OrangeMagazineTV.com) and Myke Soon (mrmixofeverything.blogspot.com)
The family currently manages this resort wanted this place to be a haven for those who want to educate themselves while engaging in team building activities. At the back of my mind, wouldn't that be boring? Wouldn't that be a drag to go to? What does this place offer? I was in to find the answer.
Dinner Was Served
Gratchi's Getaway - Tagaytay Farm Resort promotes an environmental, environmentally sensitive - self sustaining lifestyle. I mentioned earlier that they have their own Mushroom house and yes they got us hooked up. Imagine your usual Kare Kare without the fattening pig parts. Yes they can do that. The meals actually can come with the package you acquire from them and boy it was good! The mushrooms actually felt like real meat and the texture was lovely; I ate quite a hefty serving. Add in a bit of local bagoong and it's a done deal! They have developed a number of recipes using Mushrooms and I must say I'm impressed at first bite.
The second one looked so good. It tasted like slivers of pork chop. The difference though is that this is also made of mushrooms. Yes, the photos don't justify how good it was. When no one was looking I grabbed some more. I loved it!
Dessert comes first but this was a sweet way to end the meal. We initially didn't know what this was and they said it was a surprise. It tasted like bukayo, a local delicacy in the Visayan region. The difference though is that this was made with oyster mushrooms. Sugar and water (or maybe a bit of vanilla) just became so nice with it. Meals designed with mushrooms that they harvest straight from the farm made this experience a whole lot different.
Then we proceeded to our quarters.
This place was called THE RUINS (local name Ang Guho). They perked up the place and made a structure worthy of the historical name that it's got. The first floor housed the dinner table and a white board probably for discussing things. Yes, the resort has this notion of educating people and they give seminars for Mushroom cultivation etc. (they have conference facilities). Do you even know how much mushrooms cost these days? There's really no reason why people should stick to noodles for lunch and dinner in impoverished communities. Once they learn how to do Mushrooms, their lives would be a tad better. They can literally harvest twice a day for a couple of months. It's that fast. So just imagine how much this would benefit less fortunate people. The resort knows this and they want this change to start in Gratchi's Getaway - Tagaytay Farm Resort. They even have scholars for the course when they don't charge anything; if they know it will benefit quite a lot of people they would gladly oblige, just ask them for that because I'm telling you they're that nice! The structure (photo on top) was our home for that evening and it was quite a treat to live in it. The rooms were spacious.
They are gunning for a natural - native looking interior. The materials and even labor making this place was sourced within the community so just imagine how the resort just becomes a catalyst for economical activities in Barangay Cabangaan. They are helping the surrounding towns too.
Although it doesn't have air conditioning, who would even want to have that in the first place? Tagaytay is known for being so cold in the evening and morning. You'll have that breeze taking care of you while you sleep. Isn't that amazing and au naturelle? This is really perfect for conferences and seminars too!
The Morning After...
We were jazzed up to try some of the activities in the resort. Together with my blog friends we were treated to an adventure and take part on the easy hiking trail. Oh boy was I in for a surprise! It wasn't easy at all as we had to traverse the side of a mountain. I'll let the photos speak for itself...
Going down to the river was pretty challenging as you need to stay on your toes. You have to be careful. It was made pretty safe because you have veteran locals to guide you through the trail.
The place was wonderful. You get to reconnect with nature. As we went down, the river greeted us with it's pristine clear hues; even though it just rained. They say you can drink from it but we didn't at that time. I had to remove my shoes too because it might get wet. Walking barefoot in this trail isn't easy because of the rocks and crevices in between. Make sure you have slippers or better hiking/climbing gear ready.
I wasn't the only one who went barefoot (as seen in the photo above). It was really nice to get to know the place and its people. It was so nice that even Geoffrey Nuval went with us in the trail. He was really pushing us to go further when we felt weak. A city boy like me who didn't like going to mountains suddenly had a change of heart. It was well worth the trip. Experiencing it together with blog friends was mighty special too, we definitely knew that we had so many things to write about after that.
It was cold and refreshing!
It made me realize that activities like these can really mold a group together. You kinda depend on each other. You have different times asking someone to carry your things for you. Or maybe just help you out on high stones and dark caves. Yes, there was a cave but I dared not to go in it because I was barefoot. Maybe next time eh? The path actually can take hours to trek and you have to go back the same way. So if you are upto an adventure I definitely recommend you do this!
There are lots of caves in the area. Some of them are not officially explored. Some say there were treasures found in some of these but had a tragic story to tell. You should ask your guide about it. I wouldn't want to spoil your trip hehe.
Make sure you freshen up a bit with the river's water. It's cold. Maybe I'll try taking a bath there just like the locals next time.
When we went back up these treats were there for us! I love them, just thinking about how thoughtful they were since the night before is giving me flashbacks. Ms. Gratchie, Geoffrey, Tammy and the people there were making a difference. They are the ones that made this trip special.
Lunch and snacks was awesome. You should request for the spring rolls and Turon with cinnamon. That really made my day.
The Resort Facilities
I have been boasting about this in the whole article and it was really a great thing to see that afternoon. We had so little time to roam around the resort and this one tops it all! Do you know that these mushrooms actually can grow and be harvested twice a day? Yeap you heard that right! It was like magic before our eyes!
This is one of the pet projects of the gorgeous Ms. Gracia "Gratchi" Bautista Nuval and she actually has been doing this for quite some time now. She did some experiments to achieve this modest haul of mushrooms... basically by trial and error. She's been happy about the outcome of this batch and continues to share what she has learned in the past few years. This is going to be her pet project for those who wish to learn in Gratchi's Getaway - Tagaytay Farm Resort!
Outside the Mushroom Green House/ Mushroom Dark Room is the herb garden. It's where most of their plants and trees are started. Sort of a nursery.
It was a delight to see Mint, Tarragon, Rosemary, Basil and a lot more in her herb garden. I love what she's starting. I hope this works like "pay it forward". For sure it'll be nice to see people benefit from this.
They also got these cute pot belly pigs. Unlike the native ones, these guys don't smell at all. They are more of a "pet" rather than a commodity.
The Activity Area
The activity area has some courses that you and your team can do to test out trust. It's one of the things that can really make you and your people stay together, perform good just like in a normal office environment. Activities like this really build relationships and you will eventually get the point because this is not just theoretical. This is totally different from the normal vacations you probably often do. It's high time we think about what you and your people can do through practical means. It was so nice to see natural materials like Bamboo and hard wood on the course, I guess they put a lot of thought to that. Things can be so simple it could already be right in front of us. We have so many things near us that we can use; and all we need to do is just take a look. The course is also situated on top of a mountain with a spectacular view of the Palace in the Sky and The Highlands area. It's as cool as those places too.
The luckiest people in the world are those who get to live their dreams. They are doing that. What's more lucky is they want to share it with us. Ms. Gratchie Nuval wants every single person to learn something from their experience with the resort. That's exactly what we felt going out of that place. I think it's not really the fun that we had that spelled me to say nice things about it (but that's a plus don't get me wrong!), it's that and the people running the place. The sincere gesture of "wanting us to learn and experience" made the difference. This place truly has a lot of promise and if everyone just had what we had, the offices or workplace you belong would indeed be truly something to look forward to everyday. After the team building activities you plan to do in this place you'll surely have greater appreciation with your work. You'll learn to love it; and if you choose to work in a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life!
For more information and reservation inquiries
Please Call Gratchi Farm Resort
Phone: (02) 664-1633
P.S. Don't worry too much about prices, you can talk about it! They'll even throw in a small discount all you need to do is ask! =)