By Erin Consebido
At the foot of the majestic Mount Banahaw lies the peaceful, calm, and thriving town of Liliw, which is abundantly blessed with natural attractions. Those wonders are also placing the third-class municipality on the maps of local and foreign tourists.
One of its blossoming wonders is the Esmeris Farm, a two-year-old Bali-inspired eco-park best known as an ‘after Tsinelas shopping’ getaway. It has been featured several times in national media. Widely visited by tourists and locals, the eco-park provides an earthy ambiance to those fortunate enough to reach it after a challenging trek.
After you trek, nature will welcome you on your mark to the entrance. It will make you appreciate Mother Earth more because of its Instagramable attractions, so be sure to get your OOTDs ready!
The amazing views of Mount Banahaw and Laguna de Bay and the stunning pictures you can take are not the only reasons to stop over at Esmeris Farm. Its owner, Victor Esmeris, also affirmed that their park is also a perfect place for visitors who are weary, tired, and stressed to receive therapy through nature’s beauty.
A study made by Pastoral Counselor Howard Cainbell in his 1996 book proved that ecotherapy (also green therapy, nature therapy, and earth-centered therapy) could improve mood, ease anxiety, stress, and depression.
“Due to the pandemic, we ceased operations. But after re-opening, we are now seeing tourists coming again after months of quarantine, maybe to reduce stress and have a breath of nature, which is our farm’s strength,” its owner, architect, and environmentalist Victor Esmeris stated.
However, as great power comes with great responsibility, this history-making eco-park has nowhere to hide from the climate change phenomenon. Though situated in a remote area, it did not escape the sad reality of being vulnerable to this serious environmental issue.
It is surrounded by threats of illegal logging and ‘kaingin’ farming. Illegal loggers are spread throughout the farm’s surroundings and become threatening to the owners. Mr. Esmeris even warned them not to mess with his farm. He also revealed that interested people are proposing ideas of building hotels and establishments in the eco-park.
“One thing that I am saying to illegal loggers and to those proposing ideas to make our farm urbanized, is to stay away from my property, because it is for the environment, it is the unique feature of my farm, and it is for the people,” he said in an interview.
On the other hand, the farmers in Liliw are also facing the heart-wrenching effects of climate change.
Liliw Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Officer (MENRO) Dante Arcigal Jr. stated that the changes in weather conditions forced farmers to allot parcels of their land to different varieties of vegetables instead of palay as the weather nowadays is getting more unpredictable.
A report on The Conversation mentioned that losses in rural areas in the Philippines have led to conflicts, and extreme weather has negatively impacted the social and economic factors especially in areas of Mindanao, as an effect of climate change on agricultural productivity.
However, Mr. Esmeris, who is also an architect, shared that they have been more ready and disaster-resilient. According to him, they have designed their ‘kubo’ and other nature-friendly properties disaster-proof.
Meanwhile, to lessen the environmental problems of the town, Liliw MENRO is acting to stop illegal logging. The agency is also campaigning for proper solid waste management, initiating tree-planting activities, and conducting weekly cleanup drives in the municipality.
Even a rural town like Liliw is vulnerable to the effects of climate change. But as long as there are people like Mr. Esmeris who are protecting its wonders and local government agencies doing their part, those distressingly serious consequences may be mitigated.
This article was written and prepared by Erin Miriel Consebido (Student-Journalist) and Abigail Mirabel-Agapay (School Paper Adviser) from Liliw National High School, Division of Laguna as a final output of DepEd-DRRMS and AYEJ.org’s Green Beat Initiative: An Online Environmental Journalism Training.