Farm Fresh Vegetables, Busay, Cebu


The vegetables and herbs in Busay are actually inter-cropped or grown together with the flowers… not sure why or if this results in benefits for both the flowers and vegetables, but it was interesting to walk amongst the rows of veggies and flowers because it seemed so mixed up… but there must be reason to this madness. Now I understand why the Carbon market has such an incredibly varied selection of fresh looking vegetables – it is located just an hour or so away by foot, tricycle and bus from the farms… This is one of the closest farm to market journeys for a fairly large Asian city like Cebu. Again, I now wonder why vegetables don’t feature more prominently in local restaurant menus… they are almost an afterthought… In the first photo up top, I came across a pail of freshly harvested capsicums which, after many plantings from seed to fruit to seed again, have also become more localized, smaller and possessing a more intense flavor than their hybrid cousins in the West. These are really nice in stews, paellas, roasted, etc. The pail was just sitting there at the end of the day, apparently waiting for a trip to the market that evening…there was no one around to “guard it,” but I folks are very trusting in these parts…


When I was much younger, my father, the vegetable know-it-all (as head of a national program to improve nutrition), refused to let us eat kangkong (water spinach) because he was certain that the greens were chockfull of fecal matter from dirty swampy areas… so for many years we avoided this wonderful vegetable… but I have always liked kangkong so when I got older, I used to eat it frequently, health warnings be damned. Many years later, at a dinner party for family guests, my father included, I served adobong kangkong and my Dad gave me this cross look like I was a 12-year old and defying the no-kangkong order given by the resident vegetable czar. I explained it was Chinese or upland kangkong and he still refused to eat it. Well here is a photo of a well tended row of stunningly good-looking upland kangkong. As you can plainly see, it isn’t in a dirty swamp and it tastes terrific and isn’t any more at risk for cooties than other veggies grown in the area… arrgh, if I had a wok and some oil, garlic and fish sauce I would have been in kangkong heaven…


Next up, I spotted some Cebuano sitaw (I differentiate them from regular sitaw only becuase they seem shorter and have a noticeable tinge of purple on one side of the bean pod, but they taste the same as regular sitaw) growing on the vine, and a few minutes later, for sale at a roadside stand.


Corn doesn’t get much fresher than this, right on the stalk, then minutes later for sale roadside. Corn was surprisingly pricey here, at roughly PHP10-12 per ear, almost, if not surpassing, Manila prices. But cooked for just a few minutes in boiling water, the corn was sweet, juicy and worth every centavo.


The vistas in this vegetable and flower growing area in the heart of Cebu were quite different from the views along the coast of the island.


The leaves of a newly harvested savoy cabbage were so crisp you could tell it was alive just minutes before.


Pails of green tomatoes ready for the market.


Pale capsicums still on the plant.


Fiery dark green chillies also thrived next to the chrysanthemums.


And finally, several local herbs were interspersed among the veggies… including this striking herb with deep burgundy leaves, locally called mayana, sometimes smashed and laid on boils, or to help heel toothaches and headaches… It was extremely refreshing to see all of this stuff at the source, now I have a much better appreciation for the produce that I buy in the markets in Cebu and Manila…


24 Responses

  1. Great pics again! Now, I not only want to go home to Cebu, but I feel like turning vegetarian!

  2. Old school of gastronomical eating pattern is carnivorous – with health and holistic panacea and cardiovascular and cancer awareness programs now more and more folks add vegetables to their daily consumption. More and more salads are added to our meal selection – there is kangkong, mustasa, eggplant, bittermelon and lettuce salads. Before kangkong was served in sinigang or adobo but now you can get crispy fried kangkong and kangkong salad and who knows a cole slaw kangkong is in the making in one of our kitchens. West meets east culture! I agree with your Dad’s view of kangkong. In the old days no one cultivated or farmed kangkong. Self-sufficiently growing in swampy and stagnant water area where aquatic parasites thrive well like amoeba and worms. Great farming evolution and practice and great progress in our agriculture which is really big giant step forward. Talking about Boc Boc Bollante fertilizer scam in Metro Manila who needed fertilizer in a developed urban area or they fertlized Wack Wack Golf Club!

  3. MM, I think inter-cropping is done to maximize the land and to provide farmers an alternative income while the main crop is not yet harvested.

  4. the mayana made me smile i remember my lola always telling us to get “mayana pasa” when we have boils and if we have fever she will chew uncooked rice and put it in our forehead(buga) with betel nut and another heartshaped herb, we always hide and eeewwwed saying that we are “nabati”.

  5. As well as maximizing the land, inter-cropping is used as an alternative to pesticide free farming…the flowers attract beneficial insects that would feast themselves on those nasty bugs that would affect the leaves, roots, or fruits…Did you know that if you plant celery amidst the brassicas like cauliflower, broccoli, that white butterfly that others would find cute is actually a nasty bug that will leave your brassicas alone if celery is close by?….Yup, it works!…Here’s another one…plant corn, any kind of pole bean like sitao and calabaza all in one 4 x 4 feet square….Plant corn in the middle. and the beans around the corn and the squash at the edges. As the corn grows, the beans will climb through the stalk, the squash sprawling…the beans supply the nitrogen needed by the heavy crop like corn and squash. This method is called the “THREE SISTERS”…Ok, Silly Lolo…I am waiting for pray what you might say….cmon!…right Lee?

  6. we used to get our kangkong next to our corn plant (taltalon)not in a swampy stagnant water, back in the province. so, it means that the kangkong in the city is more dirty.

  7. I think it was in Chicago sometime in 1977 that I had my first taste of land cultivated kangkong. My uncle, who lived in Skokie, bought it from a Vietnamese or Laotian store. Having been born, raised and now back in Mandaluyong, we’ve always had swamp grown kangkong as there were a number of kangkong plantations here in our area.

  8. all i could think of what dishes i can make out of those veggies in your post.. how i wish i’m home..great post!!

  9. MM….here I am banging my head on the table for again literally taking for granted my own backyard. Can you imagine me going all the way to Carbon for veges when (from your pass several post) its much cheaper, shorter distance, and hassle free parking to just drive up to Busay to get this stuff.

    I will definitely go up this weekend to fill up my sari-sari store with all your great finds.

    Thanks again for your great legwork!!!!!

  10. This is the kind of life i want when im older… i’ll pick fresh vegies from my yard and cook without following any recipes just based on what’s in offer!:)

  11. The mayana certainly brings back memories of our old house. My parents are gardening addicts and they had mayanas in our old garden. I never knew it was useful, aside from being eye candy.

    Wow, the veggies are so appetizing! Let’s see, maybe I can make stuffed capsicum then wilt the kangkong in a bit of garlic oil and make ginataang sitaw at siling-haba.

    Now I want to get on the plane tomorrow with my Cebu-based officemates… just to see the farms of Busay. *drool*

    dHayl: me too… When I retire, I want to have a small veggie farm (and maybe a few chickens for eggs) and live off the land. Hehe…

  12. Lovely pictures, MM! The mayana grows lush here and even if you throw a cutting without planting it, it just grows into a new plant!…making my ill-mannered neighbor accuse me of planting these “lowly and baduy” plants into other people’s empty lots. The mayana has very beautiful little lavander flowers and very impressive if you see it as a field!

    Your pictures and story of the kangkong inspires me to make my own kangkong field! They too have nice small flowers, as I recall :-)! I tried growing the capsicum/pimiento… but it didn’t thrive; can be too moist where I live). Busay really seem to have a very ideal cool weather like the Mountain Province!

  13. Aren’t the chilli peppers grown near the chrysanthemums another example of synergy between vegies and flowers? I’m sure bettyq will know more about it but I remember reading that planting peppers near flowers helps reduce bug infestation on the flowers.

    I like how crinkly the first bucket of green bell peppers are, and the textures of the chilli peppers on the vine, plus the cabbage leaves. Beautiful hedge of kangkong too!

  14. I have great appreciation of vegetable gardens and fruit bearing trees, much more than flower gardens actually! Thanks for the photos, reminds me a lot that these simple plants are life giving for us

  15. Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh boy! My eyes are feasting on the fresh vegetables! If there is such a thing as “sinful” in chocolates, then I guess, I’m already sinning on this one!

  16. one sweet incredible day, i hope to have a farm like this, with veggies and flowers and, of course, MANGOES!


    kailan kaya? pag nanalo sa lotto?

  17. Oh MM, I just really have to thank you for sharing this. You don’t know how your posts, particularly on interesting places like this, really make me feel good.

  18. I used to work in the Department of Agriculture, but I have never come across a way to promote your local prdocue better than you do. I think Secretary Yap should tap you and make farm production profitable, fun, and self-fulfilling. You are doing a great job.

    Keep it up, MM.

  19. Am 7 years of absence from the place where i grown up.
    From a barefooted toddler cruising along these hilly farms just to earned a living at the age of 6 carrying vegetables, flowers, mangoes and other products at my back. Thanks for the pictures thus this reminds me of my past and enhance an added value to pursue my plan to retire on the same place if God will allow me to come back to our dear country.

  20. We are selling plastic net or sun shade from Korea, It lessen the penetration of sunlight by 90%. Volume of stocks are available in our Mandaue warehouse

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  21. hello,im jeng of manila.when i was in davao,planting veggies is my d2 nkmi sa manila,since nbsa ko feature m i want to start planting again but i dnt know wer 2 buy d stuff,could you please tell me where?



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