Airline professional turned her parents’ idle land into a farm tourism destination

By Patricia Bianca S. Taculao

Farming has always been a lifelong dream for many Filipinos because of the Philippines’ background as an agricultural country. That is why from a young age to twilight years, people have dreamed of living on or owning a farm where they can grow fresh produce and enjoy nature while earning a good income. 

Korina Mercado, a strategy, analytics, and optimization manager for a large airline company in the PH, is very familiar with the farming dream as she and her siblings grew up appreciating the province life because of their parents, Joselito Mercado and Corazon Alvarez. 

“Both of my parents [lived on a] farm in Laguna and [only] left their farm… because of our studies. While they did their business, their love for farming hasn’t stopped because our family continued to invest in farmlands,” Mercado said. 

Working for an airline company, Mercado has the opportunity to take her parents to other locations. During their travels, Mercado realized the potential of farms as tourism destinations. 

“I realized that our farm, and the other farms beside ours, deserve to be visited as well. Laguna, Philippines has a lot to offer [and] it’s making me sad that people nowadays would like to spend more time in malls rather than spending it with nature,” she said. 

Shortly after, she started convincing her parents that they too can turn their acquired farmlands into a respite from the busy city where guests can enjoy nature. 

Making plans 

After convincing her parents to convert their idle land into a farm tourism site, Mercado began to work on her ideas for the farm such as its name, features, logo, and more by June 2017.

The farm’s map and logo created by Korina Mercado.

In the end, Mercado went back to her roots and decided to use her parents’ family names, Mercado and Alvarez, for the name of their farm: Merrez. 

At the time, both she and her brother were working overseas while her parents were working on their business and also minding their youngest child who was two-years-old then. 

She then started proposing possible features and the layout of the farm to her parents and her brother, who is also determined to establish their farm and help fulfill their parents’ dream of living the farm life. 

“We started tree inventories, as well as marketing and advertising the farm on different social media platforms. We also began researching any advancements on farming such as the latest technology, etc.,” Mercado said. 

Now retired and running their own private business, Mercado’s parents are keen on staying in their farm because they consider a farm life to be productive and stress-free. 

“Whenever we go there, it’s magical how my parents get strength from nature. There is no idle time for them when we’re on the farm. No matter how long they work, they are [always] energized from spending time there and I’m so happy seeing my parents that energized,” Mercado said. 

She added that when they’re away, they have a caretaker named Jomar to look after the farm. 

Farm features 

Merrez Farm is a four-hectare stretch of natural landscape in Laguna that’s an hour and 20 minutes from Calamba Road. It is abundant in natural resources because it is in proximity to the mountains and a river.

Santa Ana River is located in front of Merrez Farm, making it an additional attraction for farm guests.

“Sta. Cruz river is just in front of our farm. It provides a good view and a refreshing way to start a person’s day. Imagine a farm and a river together–it’s breathtaking,” Mercado said.

Guests can participate in pick your own fruit activities on the farm.

Guests can also engage in “pick-your-own” activities from the farm’s produce of rambutan, lanzones, santol, and dalandan. 

Vegetables such as ampalaya, chili, and eggplant among others also grow with the fruits and herbs found in the farm’s vicinity.

Merrez Farm also sells their produce to bulk buyers, food technologists, and other interested parties.

Mercado said that they sell these fresh produce for a certain amount to bulk buyers, food technologists, and more. 

The farm also has native pigs, goats, horses, and other animals.

A farmhouse is currently being constructed in the farm’s vicinity to give their guests a more welcoming stay.

Additionally, in order to make the farm visit more welcoming for their guests, Mercado shared that they are currently having a modern farm house constructed so guests can stay longer and spend more time with their families as well as in nature. 

Coinciding with this idea, Mercado shared that the farm also offers an adventure area where guests can engage in outdoor activities. 

“All visitors are strictly advised not to harm any plant or grass in the farm. They are  especially advised against littering as well as any sign of disrespecting nature,” she said. 

Using the time in the farm to get things done 

Despite having initial plans since 2017, Mercado admitted that progress on the farm has been slow because of how busy their personal lives and work got. 

However, due to the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) which was imposed throughout the country last March 15 in hopes of containing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mercado and her family focused their efforts into adding the final features of their farm.

“This pandemic reminded us that it is time to give back to nature; it is time to know that earth is not all about us humans, it’s all about Mother Earth. So we decided to really push for the completion of our plans by doing them this year,” Mercado said. 

Presently, Merrez Farm is open for visitors who want to engage in fruit picking activities, provided that they follow social distancing guidelines, proper hygiene, and the use of face masks at all times. 

For more information, visit Merrez Farm on Facebook.  

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s November to December 2020 issue. 

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Patricia Bianca S. Taculao
Patricia Taculao, or Patty as she likes to be called, is a content producer for Manila Bulletin Digital Lifestyle. She graduated from University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism. She loves to spend her free time, reading, painting, and watching old movies.

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