072212 The Urban Tracker (In La Trinidad): The Farm Heroes of Pico & Puguis

For most Baguio sojourners, strawberry picking is a highlight of the highland experience. 
hey say you haven't seen the better of Baguio if you haven't tried strawberry picking in La Trinidad.

Though for another, one has yet to see more of farm works here to see the process and save the best opinion of La Trinidad farming

The span from Balili to Puguis is a mute witness to this generation of crops mastered and engineered by hands of upland farmers of La Trinidad which was an eye-opening walk that afternoon.

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Bluish municipal hall of La Trinidad blends with the pale sky.
My track mode of that morning started with a glance of the bluish-green painted La Trinidad's municipal hall before proceeding to secure a municipal map to trace our whereabouts. The cloudy blue sky almost looked uniform with the paint. I needed to tackle the Balili and Puguis interiors all alone for today and it spelled excitement.

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Sightings of a donkey in Balili farm compensates for the outdoor charm.
From the overpass, I scanned the navigable path to the mountainside neighborhood of Balili stretching to the commercial center of La Trinidad. Off the road, I already cooked up my gameplan when I passed by a center with a strawberry nursery with a nearby donkey beside a lounging calf right before crossing the river. With crooked alleyways leading to the neighbor trail, It's interesting to check the stalls in the interior carrying vegetable items aside from an assortment of ukay, load, sari-sari store. Even a small eatery came peddling fresh veggies and a hanging pinikpikan.

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Farming practice in strawberry farm constitutes a technique from cultivation to incubation.
It's breakaway time to Puguis by way of shortcut route in Benguet State University. Once inside, It's easy to pretend to be one of the students before crossing that highway leading to the strawberry farm. It's not yet the season of strawberries as most were still young incubated under a makeshift shelter. Putting off my souvenir hunt on the side as the not so good weather pushed me to go uncovered.

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An old seasoned farmer on the move for a  prelude to seedling.

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Spotting violet cabbages farm in between rows of strawberry nurseries.
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Solitude, part of the charm and romance of farming activities in Puguis. 
The road leading to Puguis interior breaching the farms was long and muddy revealing another stretch of farms of lettuce growers on this side. The farmers moved smoothly with their wrinkled, aged hands and quietly readying their lands either seeding, tilling, harvesting with such a charming and romancing sight. They are the silent and constant gardeners, the unsung heroes who despite solitude cradle us in producing crops to feed and sustain us.  Finally, I spotted the breeding ground for violet lettuces.

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Vegetables are hauled in drop-off points ready for distribution in Puguis warehouse.
The farmers were not just the only force to reckon by the time reaching Puguis trade center where the bulk of vegetables were being hauled. Local men or the pahinantes formed another part of force with their soiled hands trimming, fetching and assorting the harvest, and finally putting them in bundles and crates to be taken to their next destination. Vegetables here are hailed as the prime products as tons of them found their way here and delivered to middlemen. Dizon Farms have a big warehouse here where they do the cleaning, packing of freshly picked veggies.

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The Igorot brown rice part of 35-peso combo meal in Pico market
More busy and hectic vegetable actions awaited me as I dashed back to Pico with this group of men and women rushing in for truckloads of produce in Pico market open ground. It’s just in time the rains fell heavily, I made it inside the market. The next thing I knew, I made it inside the 2nd-floor canteen slumping in one corner and taking an order of the 35 pesos native brown rice and the carne con ampalaya. I have never seen most vegetables in my life but more significantly I found communing with the farm workers of La Trinidad a real sentimental affair.                                                                                     
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No time to spare trimming the cabbage sprawled on the ground for its next hauling stage.