One summer weekend, we decided to pile into our car and drive to Cabuyao, Laguna to spend a morning in the farm. It was a symbolic event to me, because it used to be our parents who brought us to trips like this, when we were kids ourselves. I was suddenly reminiscent of the days they will wake us up early and announce we are going on a road trip. There’s always that undercurrent of excitement, even if we started grumbling about it when we hit puberty. Now, it’s our turn to grab a still sleeping toddler from the bed, and let him wake-up to passing scenery instead of the ducks and bears stickers on his wall.
A trip to a farm wasn’t exactly my idea. Growing up in the metro has made me wary of being anywhere near livestock. I was expecting it to be unbearably humid, and I was expecting the whole place to stink of animal refuse. Apparently, I haven’t been to the right farms when I was a kid because the Fun Farm at Sta. Elena was absolutely nothing like that.
We took the South Luzon Expressway and exited at Cabuyao. Turned right, and after a short drive found ourselves at the entrance of the Sta. Elena Estate. Your boss or your helicopter-commuting CEO will probably know the place because it’s better known as a golfing range. But in the outskirts of the golf club, there are whole hectares devoted to making farm accessible and fun for children.
The first thing that greeted us were a series of gigantic wooden teepee structures which kids can climb and crawl through. A couple of farm trucks overgrown with weeds and grass evokes some form of nostalgia --- memories from I don’t know where because I have never ridden a truck. There was a big sand house within a covered structure, so the kids won’t get a direct hit from the sun while playing in the sand. We skipped the sand house and relegated it for an adventure for another time.
You would have to call in advance to reserve a slot, because they limit the number of people in the park. Walk-ins are discouraged. Upon arriving, you have to register at the front office (a cute little lobby), and pay the fee of Php 400 per person. Kids below 2 years old are free, and senior citizens only pay Php 240. Dylan is 2, and we had to pay for the full cost. That only bothered me for a short while because the place was so charming at first sight. There were this cute little wooden signs with quotes, just like this one:
And then, we saw the fish and boating area which is really just a small man-made pond, but your child will be encouraged to feed the fish and the ducks. There are staff who are always nearby to offer the bucket of feed to your child. I was worried Dylan will eat the pellets, but after Manong showed him how to do it once, he got the hang of it and started throwing the feed with gusto. It helps that the fish went into frenzy every time he does it. Dylan and his yaya Lhanz also tried the boat, but dear son still has this fright of water so let’s just say this one was a fail. I didn’t get into the boat because it looked like it was made of styrofoam. A strong, thick styro, true, but probably couldn’t handle all my 200-pound fabulousness.
Right after the boating area, you will find the rabbit and guinea pig coops. On a nearby chair, a whole tray of sliced carrots awaits little hands to feed the animals. My son was confused at first, because the Guinea pigs were so used to being fed that they all stood up in a row like a church choir, begging for a piece of carrot. Watch out for little fingers getting through the chicken wire because I can imagine those critters will bite. It took Dylan a couple of tries to insert the vegetable. Who knew this was such a good hand-eye coordination activity?
We spent about 20 minutes here, and had to tear my son away and promise to go back. We haven’t even reached the main activity area yet! After a brief walk past the handwashing facility, you will arrive at the picnic area, where they also hold the horseback and carabao-cart ride, physical activity equipment such as climbing nets and webs, swinging tires, and the zip line.
First thing we did was to secure a nice spot. This isn’t hard since 80% of the area has a full canopy of tree branches and leaves. Each table has an umbrella, and there is also this small nipa hut which we managed to snag because we arrived early. The farm does not offer food (except for drinks and ice cream), so you really ought to pack up a basket for snacks and lunch. We also found out that food deliveries are allowed in the area. The family we were sharing the hut with had Shakey’s pizza delivered straight to them (there was a branch just outside of the farm). That’s a convenient tip to try another time. But for that particular Sunday, we brought a feast with us made up of fried chicken, grilled liempo, adobong manok and baboy, rellenong bangus at hamonado. Not to mention the chips and dips and various nibblers for our son. It was a grand picnic for the whole family! Remember to CLAYGO (clean as you go) and this is easy because the farm provides segregated trash cans in various points in the farm.
Dylan’s first activity was a pony ride, and he surprised us all by gamely donning a helmet, inserting his feet into the straps and holding on to the saddle. He looked every bit of an equestrian ready for his big jump. The staff will assist the child by leading the horse, and it will be good to have someone holding the kid if they are younger than 4. If the line isn’t long yet, you could go around the farm until you tire out. We managed to go around twice before a next kid appeared, and we had to let go. In any case, Dylan got to ride a bigger horse with his nanny much later, and he was such a champ. Other kids were crying while their parents cajoled them to ride, but my son only had a determined face on. Brave like Mommy!
Next, the whole troupe rode the carabao cart twice around the track, and all the kids where whining when they had to go down. Here’s my son, frustrated at having to disembark. This is a popular ride, and the animals stop working around 11am so we weren’t able to go for another round. We just went back to the rabbits to distract him. We also visited the sheep, turkey, chicken and ducks, and wild pigs. Son was delighted that all his animal friends were there and wouldn’t stop pointing and screaming their names. “IG! (pig), ‘Oat! (Goat), ‘Ird! (bird). You get the idea.
I mentioned that there also physical activity equipment available, which may make this ideal for a small teambuilding session venue. Then of course, there’s the zip line which our nanny decided to try. You could go back as many times as you can stomach it. We were happy just watching from the sidelines. :D
I would have to say though that the best part is to be under all those trees! The place was breezy, cool and it was fun to just sit down on the grass and loll around. I have missed being this close to nature, and I didn’t even know it!
Visitors are allowed up to 4 hours since time of entry. After that, it’s 50Php per person per hour. 4 hours is enough, but I can imagine some families who may want to stay longer. The entrance fee of Ph 400/person is worth it, I think, because all the activities inside are part of the payment.
I cannot recommend the place enough! Good for families, especially kids aged 2 to 10 years old. Good for an old-fashioned picnic, and to start teaching your kids how to love and take care of animals. I think we need more places like this, especially ones close to the Metro.
See you next time at the Fun Farm!
Smell ya later,