Bagong Silang, a barangay in Maramag, Bukidnon. Located at the foot of Kalatungan Mountain Range that sits 1,200 - 1,400 meters above sea level. With hundreds of small-scale farmers growing heirloom produce and raising free-range animals, the barangay deserves a reputation as a foodie haven.
Long before organic, farm-to-table food was trendy — before Facebook, Instagram, and fancy coffee shops — there was Cornelio “JR” Eraya III, a born-and-raised Bagong Silang local who since at the age of 5 years old has seen how his father plant and tends their farm.
His father, Cornelio “Tatay Jun” Eraya is the living testament that, with innovative and proper care, 35 to 40 year-old Robusta coffee trees still bear bountiful yield. Now 32 years old, JR, has his own land to cultivate and followed the footsteps of his father to plant coffee.
“You couldn’t drag me from this place,” JR told a recent visitor. “City lights are vibrant and can be blinding but the tranquility and solace that the fresh air bring are food to my soul that only the farm can give” he said.
Eraya Farm has successfully grown high altitude Robusta and prides itself by producing a high yield of 2-3 kilos of green coffee beans from a single tree. Eraya’s Robusta have been consistent in quality through the years and a good source of income for his family comes from coffee.
Spirited and remarkably vibrant JR was challenged with the project of Philippine Coffee Alliance, Inc. (PCAi) and Forest Foundation Philippines (FFP) entitled “Empowering the Coffee Value Chains of Forest Communities via Community Based Social Enterprises” to adopt and plant Arabica on his 3-hectare land since potential income is much higher than that of Robusta.
Today, his Arabica trees, mostly Typica variety, are 2-3 feet in height and not less than 18 months from now, JR will reap what he sowed, which is one step towards realizing his dream of one day owning a coffee shop.
JRs’ hopes for his farm and the community have certainly blossomed. It is difficult to imagine Bagong Silang today— or Maramag coffee industry — without JRs’ gritty determination and fierce dedication to his values.