Having a safe space to get away to is important for people who experience physical as well as mental pressure from the demands of life. It can be a quiet corner of a house, a favorite restaurant, or even a specific spot in a park. Nonetheless, having a special place to relax and unwind can do wonders for one’s well-being.
Stephen and Amy Ustare, a couple who are both professionals in the software development field, are aware of the need for a safe haven as they themselves escape to their farm in Bulacan whenever they can.
“This [farmhouse] has been a family vacation home for more than 10 years and has been witness to a lot of family memories, reunions and gatherings,” Amy said.
“It was a fresh break from the noise and distractions in the city,” Amy said.
In 2016, when Amy decided to take a break from work, she had the farm renovated. However, she and Stephen had more in mind than just keeping the place exclusive to her and her family members.
“Our family farm is a culmination of all the things we love and it was built to celebrate good food as well as bonding with family and friends. We wanted to keep the family tradition and share our little piece of paradise with more people,” Amy said.
In 2017, the couple opened their farm to the public and made sure that it can accommodate the needs of their guests.
“We had in mind small families, close friends, animal lovers, or even a tired city worker in need of a short getaway,” Amy said.
She added that they wanted to make the farm as pet-friendly as possible because ever since they got married, they have been proud fur parents of a miniature schnauzer named Cooper.
“We always had a hard time finding a nice vacation place where we can bring him, so we thought of opening up the place to be pet-friendly as well,” Amy said.
The couple named their farm Ñumana (pronounced as new-mana). It is a mixture of the English word new and the Filipino word ‘mana’ which means inheritance. Thus, their farm’s name means ‘new inheritance.’
“Ñumana is steeped in heritage, tradition, and is truly Filipino, with a love for good food,” Amy said.
What once was a mango orchard, now opens its doors as a leisure family farm in Pulong Yantok, Angat, Bulacan, which is just a two hour drive from Manila.
“The farm has naturally-grown fruits, and there are farm animal feeding activities for kids. There are also modern rustic vacation homes in the area to give off the ultimate cozy retreat for couples, families and pets as well!,” Amy said.
Presently, the farm is managed by their friends, Erick and Mai Cruz, who are in charge of accommodations and bookings.
A culmination of the things they love
Despite being open to the public, the couple wanted to preserve the natural elements of the farm so that their guests can enjoy it as well.
“This property was originally a mango farm with over 200 mango trees. My parents planted several fruit trees as well: calamansi, santol, langka, rambutan, pomelo, etc. If there’s harvest available, guests can pick and pay. My brother in law, Jay also has over 30 species of bamboos planted in the farm as well,” Amy said.
In addition to the planted fruit trees, Amy and Stephen also developed around 1,000 square meters of the space for vegetables, specifically high value crops like lettuce, french beans, and more.
“We like to keep it simple and naturally grown as much as possible. We steer away from synthetic fertilizers and pesticides,” the software developer said.
The couple even has citronella planted in the area with the high-value crops because the plant is known to repel various pests.
As for the accommodations, Ñumana Farm has two modern rustic vacation homes with a fully functional kitchen available for rent and open to fur-babies as well.
“We have the Kubo which is a traditional Filipino home which we upgraded to fit the modern needs. [It is] perfect for couples or small groups who delight in simple things and have a heart for animals and nature,” Amy said.
The Filipino term ‘bahay kubo’ literally means “cube house”, describing the common shape of the dwelling. The other house in Ñumana Farm is the casita, a farmhouse style vacation home which is a charming rustic getaway for small groups or families.
The couple also added koi, chickens, and ducks in the farm for kids to feed.
“It is our dream to really have a sustainable integrated space where we have modern tiny houses as accommodation, and a space to grow our own food which we can use to serve fresh local cuisine to our guests. Ultimately we’d like our guests to create lasting memories, where they can go to the farm to relax and bond with their friends, loved ones, and fur-babies as well,” Amy said.
Article and Photo originally posted by Manila Bulletin last September 2, 2020 12:00pm and written by Patricia Bianca Taculao.