Mankind has long valued honey as a natural sweetener and as a remedy for many different ailments. A collection of sweet nectar, enzymes, minerals, amino acids and minerals, honey is is one of Earth's most amazing substances. Like a symphony of tiny musicians, thousands of hardworking honeybees diligently collect nectar everyday to take back to their hive and create their golden sugary masterpiece.
The Ilog Maria Honeybee Farm has long been in the business of beekeeping and to this day they remain committed to sharing the amazing nutritional and healing properties of honey and bee products. The family farm has been producing high-quality bee products for three decades and are now passing that love and passion for beekeeping to the next generation. We speak to Jonathan Magsaysay and he gives us a glimpse into their farm and the art of Beekeeping.
Tell us all about yourself and Ilog Maria Honeybee Farm?
Perhaps the most asked question is how our farm got named. It is one of the many miracles in our farm that pushed us towards the direction of helping people through the wonderful world of honeybees.
My father told the story like this:
It was February 1987, it had not rained for 5 months, it was called El Niño. I called my mother long distance telling her the situation. All the black pepper, coffee and other crops that I had planted for the last four years, were dying.
She said, "sunduin mo ako, aakyat ako dyan sa farm, magdadasal ako, uulan." (Fetch me, I will go with you up to the farm, I will pray, it will rain.) My mother is a woman of few words and very strong faith.
She started praying the Holy Rosary at about 9:30 am. The three of us hardly ate lunch. I was with my girlfriend, Violaine.
At about 3 pm, it became very dark. Then we heard a clattering. Ice was falling as big as marbles on our tin roof and the ground. Then the thunderstorm, downpour - deluge. It lasted for about 30 to 45 minutes.
We heard my mother crying above it all. She had asked for, and was granted, a miracle.At about 430 pm she said, "iuwi mo na ako, sasabihin ko sa Papa mo."(bring me home, I'll tell your Papa.)
We had to engage the four wheel drive of my old Land Cruiser as we left. The muddy ground was very slippery. When we reached the highway, 700 meters away, it was dry. It was dry up to Manila.
Violaine and I had gotten married the next month after that miraculous downpour.
Fast forward to 1994. I had gone to town to the local office of the Department of Trade and Industry. We were applying for a trade name for our little livelihood.
They asked me what name to give. I said I would ask my wife.
We agreed that it was to be "Ilog Maria Honeybee Farm" in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary with whom my mother, Lilia, had prayed for rain.
It was to be an auspicious name for us.It was to be the start of our journey to the Lord. A journey marked with many signs as wondrous as this first one. A continuing journey.
Where did you learn the art of beekeeping?
I learned the beekeeping from childhood. I was 2 years old when I began taking care of a beehive. My father taught me and raised me as a beekeeper until I graduated from college. After which I took a course on Intensive Beekeeping at the University of the Philippines - Los Banos. They have very good information on the beekeeping industry in the Philippines.
I then applied for a scholarship in Israel to study Commercial Beekeeping at the University of Jerusalem in Rehovot. I finished the short course and thesis and was able to graduate with good standing.
I was also sent to Argentina to Apimondia to take part in the worldwide presentation of studies about beekeeping.
What is your favorite part of beekeeping?
It has always been the love of discovery for me and the fascination that after 40 million years of evolution, they have evolved into a perfectly selfless social insect.
The lifestyle of natural living, organic, living while coexisting as well as we could with nature. Plus the fact that beekeeping is one of the very few endeavors where we can get something without killing anything in the process.
Tell us about the healing benefits of Honey?
There are many but we personally use it for dressing wounds and burns. We also use it for mild digestive problems.
More information about it is on the internet and our website.
Can you tell us more about Apitherapy?
Apitherapy is the treatment of various diseases with products from the beehive with the aim of healing and improving the quality of life without all the bad side-effects of western medicine.
Your products are now available on the market, what are your personal favorites?
We enjoy making new products the most. In fact we have just now released eye drops, sunscreen, and are developing a formula to make organic deodorant. All the products we sell we continuously use and enjoy ourselves.
What makes you happy?
Knowing part of my life's purpose. One of the most satisfying parts of the happiness we enjoy is knowing that our purpose in this world is helping others through honeybees. Very few people have the complete knowledge of their place here on earth. As for our small family enterprise, our endeavors are made complete by our mutual relationship with our honeybees.
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Photos property of Ilog Maria Honeybee Farm