Mt. Banahaw

Have I been able to mention that we tied up with Haribon Foundation to adopt a forest and join in the push for biodiversity in Philippine forests? If I haven’t, well, we did. So last Friday, we headed off to Laguna to do an ocular inspection so we can intelligently plan the actual tree planting. I’ll be bringing 50 of our employees so it’s going to be a real production number! After an hour of trekking, this was our view:

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Sadly, I was short of 450 meters from reaching the top where our tree planting site will be! Between my recent lack of exercise and the limited food intake because of Cohen, I knew it wouldn’t have been wise to push myself. My lower back is still feeling the strenuous trekking because the paths were not easy to navigate. We were literally walking by the sides of the tomato and green bean plants and bushes!

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But the forest was so lush although the lower lands were a bit dry since it hasn’t been raining.
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When we finally made it back down to level ground and into town, we went crazy in the Liliw market. There were freshly picked tomatoes, cabbage, and ampalaya. And the hard to find pako (fiddlehead fern) was for sale! All the way home, we were dreaming of making our Insalatang Pako using all the fresh produce we found in Laguna.

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Here’s my recipe for Insalatang Pako:

1 bundle pako
4 small tomatoes, washed and diced
1 salted egg, peeled and diced
1/2 onions, cut into thin strips

1. Cut the tips of the fiddlehead fern, about 4 inches from the top. Discard the tough stems then cut up the ferns into 2 inches or however long you want your salad to be.
2. Blanch the fiddle fern in ice cold water to remove the sliminess. Let it soak for a few minutes then spin dry. (Some people blanch their pako in hot water but I think cold water helps keep the crunchiness better)
3. Arrange pako with tomatoes, onions and salted egg on salad plate. You can also opt to add shrimps or nuts.

Best served cold so keep in the refrigerator until you’re ready to eat! I also prepared a vinegar dressing on the side instead of pouring it so everyone can adjust the dressing to suit their taste. Just mix together white vinegar, olive oil (optional), salt, ground black pepper and that’s it!

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