LOOK: This farm resort owned by GMA's Susan Enriquez will give guests a taste of simple living
Just having to read the news occasionally can be a source of stress, but it’s even more stressful for media practitioners who regularly have to cover and report about it on a daily basis.
For busy journalists, living the simple farm life away from the busy city offers the ultimate feeling of peace and relaxation.
Those looking for a serene escape for weekend trips near Manila can soon stay in a farm property where five TV journalists and their families regularly go to relax amid everything that’s happening in the world.
Balustre Cerca is a soon-to-open bed and breakfast in Indang, Cavite owned by GMA Network television and radio host Susan Enriquez.
The property is located within a larger shared farm lot she jointly owns with colleagues and fellow news colleagues Mark Salazar, Atom Araullo, Branden Milla, and Alex Baltazar. They bought the farm in 2017 and divided it into five areas, with each division having its own land title.
Balustre Cerca, which is on Susan’s property, gets its name from a combination of the Filipino term for structure or pillar and the Spanish word for “near” because of the barangay name’s “Mahabang Kahoy Cerca,” located just 15 to 20 minutes from Tagaytay.
“We coined the name Balustre mula sa mga unang structure sa property na kubo na gawa sa kawayan. Lagi naming pinapalagyan ng balustre. Tapos gusto namin na ang pangalan ng lugar ay tunog Pinoy, tunog farm,” Enriquez told PhilSTAR L!fe.
Originally, the farm was where the journalists could get together to “save their sanity” when borders were closed and there was no place to go.
All five of them started building structures during the early days of the pandemic in 2020, starting with just a Bahay Kubo, a treehouse, and a greenhouse set among the various fruit-bearing trees and sprawling 5,000 sqm property, which extended to another 5,000 sqm neighboring farm lot.
Susan recalls that the seeds they originally planted during the start of the pandemic have literally borne fruits and vegetables. Another part of the property is devoted to farming and farm animals like chickens and turkeys.
In 2021, Susan decided to develop a section in her property to accommodate guests and larger groups for functions to bring in additional income for the property’s maintenance, while providing a place for family and friends to enjoy.
“Dapat kasi for farming lang. Kaya lang yung malaking part ng property, adobe ang lupa. Hindi makabuhay ng gulay. So ang ginawa ko yung may adobe, tinayuan ng structure at yung magandang lupa for planting, tinaniman namin ng mga gulay at prutas,” Enriquez told L!fe.
While Balustre Cerca B & B hasn’t officially opened to the public yet, it will offer an ideal venue this coming holiday season for weddings, parties, reunions, and birthdays. With the large space and gardens, it can also host team-building activities and seminars.
The farm can accommodate about one hundred people. It comes with four A-frame air-conditioned cabins, one swimming pool, a pavilion, outdoor kitchen, and parking.
Even with life returning to the busy normal after the pandemic, Susan still makes it a point to return to the farm every Friday and stay until Sunday afternoon.
“I love farming. Kinagisnan ko mga magsasaka. I remember when I was a kid, kinakain ko ang bagong pitas na kamatis. Puro gulay at prutas ang madalas kong kainin. Kaya siguro farming talaga ang gusto kong ipursue. Kasi parang may inner peace pag nature ang kasama mo. Huni ng ibon sa gabi hanggang umaga. Siyempre fresh air no pollution. No traffic,” she said.
While she has to return to the city on weekdays for her “bread and butter,” she said she still manages to bond with most of her colleagues during weekends.
Since the property is near Tagaytay, families who want to maximize their trip can include a food trip to new restaurants in their favorite weekend go-to destination. Those with younger kids can include visits to nearby Skyranch and Paradizoo, a 10-hectare farm theme park with gardens, agricultural exhibits, and animals such as camels, in their itinerary.
Balustre Cerca is also just an hour away from Calatagan and Nasugbu in Batangas, so those who want to spend time at the beach can extend their stay.
The resort is still in the process of finalizing its rates for accommodations for overnight guests and group functions, but they hope to open to the public by the end of November to early December 2022.
Meanwhile, Susan’s colleagues are also working on new structures in their own areas of the farmland.
“Mark and Branden are continuously developing their parts of the land. I have started the construction of a small accommodation which I intend to "enroll" in Airbnb. Construction may be finished a month from now,” Baltazar told L!fe.
Atom Araullo admits that he hasn’t been as active as the others in developing his part of the property, which is still a vacant lot, but he’s looking forward to spending more time on the farm in the future. The group had originally talked about putting up a coffee shop in the area since a lot of bikers pass by during long rides.
“What I can tell you is that the place itself is quite nice. It's a welcome escape from the bustle of the city. In the future, perhaps I can put up a small tea house there, so that I have somewhere to rest when I visit,” said Araullo.
For more information, visit the Facebook page: Balustre Cerca.