Your questions answered
Thank you for wanting to visit and play a part in the magic creation of the Happy House Farm. We are blessed you feel excited to contribute and we know you will just love your stay and you will gain so much from the experience.
Here are some common questions we have been asked – do contact us if any of your questions are not answered here and we will reply fast. For further details email:
— OPTIONS FOR BEING AT THE HAPPY HOUSE FARM —
What options are available to be at the farm?
There are two ways right now to enjoy being with us at the farm :
- Come as an organic farm stay guest and relax
- Join us as a work and travel volunteer – ( wwoof ) min stay 3 night – 700 pesos per person per night
Can we bring children?
We are a family friendly farm. We love children and Kyra our young daughter loves to make new friends. If you’re a local family coming as organic farm stay guests, then for sure bring all your children. If you are wanting to be with us as an work and travel volunteer let us know please when booking if you have children and the ages of the children. We do make an additional nominal charge for children depending on their age. Check with us by email :
What is the farm full address?
Island of Luzon 6hrs North Manila, Barangay (Village) of Gumot 11km West of town of Rosario, follow the national Hwy to San Fernando In province of La Union
- 100m before the VERY end of the road at Gumot Nagcularan
- Go past the power lines and up the hill
- Look out for the small sign on the right of the road at the top of the hill.
What if I am driving?
If coming from Baguio or Manila head to Rosario La Union and then take the San Fernando road heading North West out of the town.
About 5km out of the town you go across a river – keep your eyes open from here you are not too far away. After the river the road starts winding – after the third curve the road straightens out as it goes down hill – slow down because you are appreoaching Benteng Crossing where you need to leave the National Highway. Cold Water Mountain Spring water shop is on the right – the turn is on the LEFT.
Here is a map showing the junction. Once you turn left – keep going till the road forks – take the LEFT fork and continue to the end of the road and just as you pass UNDER the large power lines we are at the top of that hill on the right – if you get lost just ask anyone there – they know the Happy House.
Do you arrange pick ups?
We can help arrange a pick up for you from Rosario – the nearest town about 14km away.
A local guy charges 350 pesos during the hours of 7am to 8pm, outside these hours he charges 500 pesos.
Let us know in advance if you would like us to organise this for you. The guy’s name is Loretto. The pickup is in a simple local Tricycle. He has a two way trip plus waiting time. He will bring you direct to the farm after meeting you off the bus.
With an arranged pick up you get off the bus at FRIENDSHIP supermarket in Rosario . If you are travelling by Partas or Victory Liner you take a 15min meal break at Sison – this is ONLY 15 mins before Rosario so remind the conductor you are getting off in Rosario.
If I don’t want a pick up is it easy to get to the farm on my own?
It is not super difficult if you have patience and want a small adventure. However, before 6am and after 7pm it can be very difficult to find a tricycle that will bring you all the way out to the farm. Some of our guests have had problems with drivers not knowing where Gumot is, or them not being able to get up the steep hill near our farm and dropping guests in the middle of nowhere, or they go to the wrong part of the village! But in general during daylight hours it’s not super difficult but can be a little problematic. If you negotiate in advance you will save a little money – most drivers will charge about 200 pesos from Rosario during the day time because they will hope to pick up passengers for the return trip.
Do you have a google map reference for the exact farm location?
Yes here is the location – just type it into the search box for Google Maps :
Where is the organic farm located and is there a map and instructions on how to get there ?
We are located in the Philippines on the island of Luzon (main Island where Manila is located).We are about a 6 hour bus ride north of Manila (trip getting shorter soon with opening of new highway), or 5 hours from Clark (where many budget airlines fly into).Make sure you get bus to Rosario in La Union — there is another Rosario ! Address : Happy House Farm, Very end of the road, Nagcularan, Gumot, Rosario, La Union Google Map
Is there a map in satellite view?
Which airport do I fly into?
You have a choice of Manila (capital) or Clark (Angeles City). All budget and main airlines fly into Manila. ONLY budget airlines fly into Clark right now eg Cebu Pacific, Tiger, Air Asia – Jet Star only flies into Manila (as of Oct 2014). If you are flying with a budget airline we suggest you fly into Clark because it cuts two hours off your trip coming north and you miss all the Manila traffic.
If I arrive in Manila how can I get to the bus ?
The best way from Manila airport is via taxi but unfortunately the standard taxi system at the airport is super abysmal !
If you have a smart phone we recommend downloading the GRAB taxi app or UBER – Grab tends to be better serviced in Manila. Then you can book a taxi on arrival and then super easy.
Else it’s best to walk out of the airport onto the main road and flag down a taxi or let one of the touts help you – just give them 10 or 20 pesos – that’s how they make their living. If you try to get a taxi in the airport you may wait a long time in the queue or have to pay a lot – there are different service set ups at different terminals.
Pasay Victory liner is about 20 min ride from the airport out of peak hours. Peek hours it can take you 2 hours! It’s a 40 minute easy walk if you want. Peak hours are M – F 7am – 10am and 4pm – 7pm.
If I arrive in Clark how can I get to the bus ?
During the day time there is normally an aircon jeepney servicing the airport but you will have to wait till it fills up which can take up to an hour some times the cost is around 50 pesos to Dau bus terminal which is about 20 mins ride away.
Taxis at the airport are a little pricy – around 500 pesos some times but you can ask the driver to share with someone else and they will go hunting for another passenger. Or you can haggle with them and if they are not too busy you can often just pay 400.
There is a public jeepney service but you have to walk out of the airport for this and it will drop you off near SM and not at Dau bus so you may have to get two jeepneys. After you walk out of the airport walk to what looks like a big wide main road and ask a local for directions. The cost is about 20 pesos to SM super mall and from there you can pick up another jeeepney going to the bus terminal. I would not recommend this option unless you are brave and are happy to have an interesting adventure.
Which are best budget airlines?
Budget airlines operate from Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong (check Google for other locations seeing flights are often added.)All the budget airlines are good. Tiger Air and Cebu Pacific are only ones currently flying into Clark. Jet Star is good but just flies into Manila (as of Oct 2014).
Where in Manila can I get a bus from and which bus should I take?
Buses mainly leave from Pasay and Cubao in Manila. 80% of buses going to Northern Luzon leave from Cubao because they do not need to travel accross Manila which these days can take over 2 hours. Sometimes it’s better to get the MRT to Cubao and then get a bus from there. The MRT trains are busy but at least they are fast.
If travelling by MRT with a lady (and sometimes as a western guy) you can go to the VERY front of the train (wait on the platform at the front) and there are ladies only carriages – get on there.
Pasay is near the airport and Cubao is West of Greater Manila in the city of Quezon City (closer to the road north). The easiest bus company to use is Victory Liner – they travel every 30 minutes normally to Baguio City – Rosario our local town is 1 1/2 hours before Baguio City.Manila is actually a collection of cities! This is very confusing for visitors. Manila itself is a small city within greater Manila. The closest main area from the airport is the city of Pasay – this is about 20 minutes from the airport – outside rush hour [7am – 10am and 4pm – 7pm]. During rush hour expect this trip to take up to an hour and a half! If you land during rush hour you may want to wait at the airport for a little while and grab a coffee! This beats waiting in rush-hour traffic.It is best that you have a local mobile number. You can buy a local SIM near the bus station if your phone is unlocked. Globe or Smart is best. At the farm GLOBE is best for internet 3G reception.DO NOTE: Each bus company has their own depot. There is NO central bus station in Manila.Buses run 24 hours.Buses you can take are :
- Victory Liner (www.victoryliner.com) (main bus company) – a mix of new and old buses – stops Tarlac & Sison (15 mins each)TWO MAIN DEPOTS: Pasay and Cubao – they have buses going to Baguio every 20 – 40 minutes. Other Victory Liner terminals .
- Dagupan Bus Company – more newer buses and ok leg room – stops Tarlac (15 mins )
- Partas (partas.com.ph) – good buses – ok leg room – stops Tarlac & Sison (15 mins each)
- Genesis (www.genesistransport.com.ph) – good buses – very tight leg room for taller people! – stops Tarlac (15 mins )
You can get buses that travel to ANY of these destinations – they all pass close by the Happy House Farm:
- Baguio (All bus companies do this destination) – get off in Rosario
- Abra (Partas normally does this destination) – get off 10km past Rosario – get email instructions
- San Fernando (La Union) (Partas normally does this destination) – get off 10km past Rosario – get email instructions
- Vigan (Partas normally does this destination) – get off 10km past Rosario – get email instructions
Search on Google for each bus company and their location addresses. All buses are air conditioned. If travelling at night, make sure you have a blanket or wear warm clothing – the buses can get VERY cold! You can board any bus going to Baguio City or San Fernando, La Union EXCEPT express buses. San Fernando is the capital city of La Union province, where Baguio is in the province of Benguet – there is only one Baguio in the Philippines so no worries here about the province. The express buses do not stop so you will not be able to get off at the right place. However, should you want to visit Baguio City first you can get an express bus, then later come down from Baguio – we are just one 1 1/2 hours away on the way to Manila. DO NOTE: Getting a Baguio bus from Manila can take a couple of hours seeing the buses are often full. Check with the bus companies websites to see if you can book in advance. Buses do run very regular – often every 15 minutes so if a bus is full get the next one.
I am struggling to get a bus out of Manila because it’s holiday time is there a better option?
The bus is the only way to come north unless you want to pay a massive amount for a private car. However 80% of buses leave from Cubao, Pasay is a smaller depot. Travel to Cubao via MRT or taxi and you may have better luck from there.
Also there are MANY bus companies – Victory Liner is one of the best that’s why we recommend it. However from Cubao you can take any of these :
- Far North
Do note though they all have their own depots so you will have to hunt around to find them.
Where in Clark can I get a bus from and which bus should I take?
Clark is a little confusing place because there are three areas close together :
- Clark (the old American airbase) where the international airport is located – also called Clark Freeport Zone – this is still a military base plus industrial park – only taxi’s and some special Jeepneys (public vans) can enter the base
- Angeles City (Pampanga Province). This is the city bounding Clark and is about 15 minutes from the airport
- Dau. This is a Barangay (village area) in Angeles City on the edge of the city. It houses the main bus depot for all buses. From the airport you can get taxi’s or Jeepneys to Dau – get off at Jolly Bee next to the bus terminal.
Buses leave from Dau bus depot. Google Map Clark airport does not have any local public buses servicing it. Partas bus company is the only bus that you can take from the airport. The buses have a limited schedule – check at the info desk in the exit area. If you cannot get a bus from the airport then you will need to travel to Dau to catch a bus. You can get to Dau by Jeepney or Taxi. Aircon Jeepneys run during the day time. In the evening you only have taxi’s. The Jeepney is normally parked up about 50 metres outside the exit area of the airport- just ask someone for directions. Just tell the Jeepney driver or taxi driver you want to take the bus to Baguio / San Fernando La Union from Dau. Taxi’s from the airport to Dau cost about 400 to 500 pesos – you have to haggle a little – taxi’s are not on a meter unlike in Manila. You can often share a taxi if you ask and are willing to wait for 10 to 15 minutes – then it costs around 300 pesos. There are countless hotels in Angelese where you can stay. We do not recommend you stay in Dau seeing most of the hotels there a quite crude and do not suite overseas visitors taste. But do be warned – Angeles city hosts a very vibrant red light district called Balibago. Most of the best hotels are in this area and some can be a little ‘eye opening’. If you arrive on a late night flight it is well worth staying overnight and travelling the next day. Check out booking.com or agoda.com for cheap deals in Angelese. Tune Hotel is a good and cheap option – we have stayed there a few times – you can book through Agoda.com. Buses you can take are the same as from Manila – see above – many buses stop in Dau going north.
- Victory Liner (www.victoryliner.com) (main bus company) – a mix of new and old buses – stops Tarlac & Sison (15 mins each)
- Dagupan Bus Company – more newer buses and ok leg room – stops Tarlac (15 mins )
- Partas (partas.com.ph) – good buses – ok leg room – stops Tarlac & Sison (15 mins each)
- Genesis (www.genesistransport.com.ph) – good buses – very tight leg room for taller people! – stops Tarlac (15 mins ) You can get buses that travel to ANY of these destinations – they all pass through Rosario and some pass close by the Happy House Farm:
- Baguio (All bus companies do this destination) – get off in Rosario
- Abra (Partas normally does this destination) – get off 10km past Rosario – get instructions from us by email
- San Fernando (La Union) (Partas normally does this destination) – get off 10km past Rosario – get instructions from us by email
- Vigan (Partas normally does this destination) – get off 10km past Rosario – get instructions from us by email
There is no need to book in Dau – there are many buses and the buses all leave from the Dau bus depot. Buses run 24 hours. All buses are air conditioned. If travelling at night, make sure you have a blanket or wear warm clothing – the buses can get VERY cold! You can board any bus going to Baguio City or San Fernando (La Union). San Fernando is the capital city of La Union province, while Baguio is in the province of Benguet – there is only one Baguio in the Philippines so no worries here about the province. There are no express buses – and the buses do not have toilets onboard but you will make 2 stops on the way. The bus terminal porters are very good but they are keen for work and will often ‘highjack’ you on arrival at the terminal. Just ask where the buses leave for Baguio (easiest to get from Dau) and if you have a lot of bags you can let them help you. You may want to control how many porters help you though seeing you have to pay each one! Normally we pay them 10 to 20 pesos each depending on the bags they are carting… the porters wear a porter shirt so are easy to spot. Porters with shirts can be trusted but the kids if you use them for porters keep them close to you when they carry your bags just to be safe 🙂
Where should I get off the bus?
Where you get off the bus depends on if you have arranged a pick up with us or not in advance. PICK UP PRE-ARRANGED With an arranged pick up you get off the bus at FRIENDSHIP supermarket in Rosario, La Union. La Union is the province. Do watch out – in the Philippines many towns and cities have the same name but located in a different province (area). If you are travelling by Partas or Victory Liner you take a 15min meal break at Sison – this is ONLY 5 mins before Rosario so remind the conductor you are getting off in Rosario. NO PICK UP ARRANGED You need to get off in the town of Rosario in the province of La Union. Do watch out – in the Philippines many towns and cities have the same name but located in a different province (area). Tell the driver to drop you at Friendship supermarket in Rosario. IMPORTANT NOTE: Many normal buses going to Baguio bypass Rosario if there are no passengers getting off in the town. Make sure you tell the conductor that you want to get off in Rosario. It is wise to remind the driver you want to get off in Rosario town around about 1 hour before you arrive and then again 1/2 hour before you arrive to be sure. Buses going to San Fernando all pass through Rosario town. Rosario is a small town – so if you arrive early in the morning or late at night there will probably be nothing open! The town is fairly active with shops open from 7am to 9pm.
Are there any landmarks I can watch out for so I know where I am and how much longer I have to go?
- Tarlac (city)- about 2 hours from Manila – another 3 hours to go approximately – many buses have their first toilet break here – DO NOT GET ON THE BUS WITH A FULL BLADDER !!! But don’t be shy to ask the bus conductor to stop if you get desperate!
- Rosales SM (supermarket/mall) – about 1 1/4 hours from Rosario
- Urdaneta (town) – about 1 hour from Rosario
- Pozorrobio (town) – about 30 minutes from Rosario
- Sison town (note the town cannot be seen from main highway it seems like you are in the middle of nowhere) – about 15 minutes from Rosario
Where would I get picked up from?
As long as you have arranged your stay in advance (please!) then we can organise a tricycle who knows were we live and will deliver you door to door, to pick you up from FRIENDSHIP supermarket in Rosario town (La Union). You need to book this with us via email before you come. The cost would normally be 350 Pesos from 7am to 8pm and 500 Pesos during other times.There are no taxi’s available and the local buses only come 1/2 of the way to our farm. We are around 30 minutes from Rosario township.It is best that you have a local mobile number. You can buy a local SIM if your phone is unlocked. Globe or Smart is best. Globe is best for 3G internet connection at the farm.
How can I contact you or Loretto (pick up driver in Rosario) if I have no LOCAL phone?
Ask someone to send a text message for you. You would have received our handphone (mobile) numbers in our previous contacts. Pay them a 10 or more pesos for a few texts – and they will be happy to help if you ask them for the assistance. Do note: We often cannot receive overseas text messages – for some reason they often do not get delivered! Also we cannot reply to an overseas mobile number.What if I want to find my own way to the Happy House Farm what is the address?
Our address is : Happy House Farm, 100m before the Very end of the road, Nagcularan, Gumot, Rosario, La Union
What if I need to give a tricycle drive instructions on how to get to Happy House Farm?
FIRST OF ALL : get off the bus at Friendship Supermarket — in Rosario township
- Our address is : Nagcularan, Gumot, Rosario, La Union [ Gumot is the village or Barangay, Nagcularan is the place in the village ].
- Ask around for which tricycles service GUMOT or BENGTENG crossing – only a few cover this area – ask around and the other tricycle drivers will direct you to the right area where the drivers for this area hang out – if you do not get a driver from this area you will pay a lot more!
- Get the tricycle to BENGTENG crossing (just before Monte Del Rosario resort on road to Damortis)
- From the crossing head to GUMOT
- From GUMOT head to the VERY end of the road to Nagcularan under the power lines and up the hill
- We are at the top of the hill on the right – watch out for a small sign
- if you end up at the very end of the road (end of the concrete) then come back 30m
- You will see our gateway with rocks across it – there is a small sign.
- Come down the drive and you will see the Little Happy House on left
Do I need to book a bus seat in advance and how often do the buses travel?
Inter province air con buses on the island of Luzon almost always run 24 hours where local non-aircon buses usually start around 6am and stop around 7pm. All buses to Baguio and San Fernando run 24 hours. You do not normally need to book a seat in advance but do be aware that in Manila it can take an hour or two to get a seat on bus seeing it can be very busy. If a bus is full – get the next one. On public holidays it can be VERY HARD to get a seat so arrive well in time. It is NEVER a good idea to travel on a main public holiday or the day before or the day after. However, if travelling during a public holiday book 24 hours in advance if you can else you will struggle BIG TIME! If you are travelling during, or the day after a public holiday, you will normally struggle to get a seat and it may take you five to eight hours to get a seat if you wait and do not have an advance seat booking! We suggest in this case to stay an extra night in your hotel and travel later! Bus companies like Victory Liner allow online bookings if booked more than a few days in advance (around 3 days). Check their site out for further details. Do note though that Philippine booking systems can be problematic of limited in functionality! Each bus company runs buses to Baguio and San Fernando usually every hour 24 hours a day. The best times to leave Manila is during the night after 11pm or very early morning around 5am – this can shorten the trip by over an hour!
Can I fly or are there trains?
You can fly into San Fernando with a domestic flight from Manila but it’s not recommended – just get the bus 🙂 There are no trains. Some taxi drivers will offer to drive you all the way from the airport. We would not recommend this seeing it will be VERY expensive and could be problematic and they could increase the amount they quote when you arrive to charge you for extras like road toll fees!
— GET HERE BY CAR —
If coming from Baguio or Manila head to Rosario La Union and then take the San Fernando road heading North West out of the town. About 5km out of the town you go across a river – keep your eyes open from here you are not too far away. After the river the road starts winding – after the third curve the road straightens out as it goes down hill – slow down because you are appreoaching Benteng Crossing where you need to leave the National Highway. Cold Water Mountain Spring water shop is on the right – the turn is on the LEFT. Here is a map showing the junction. Once you turn left – keep going till the road forks – take the LEFT fork and continue to the end of the road and just as you pass UNDER the large power lines we are at the top of that hill on the right – if you get lost just ask anyone there – they know the Happy House.
What work exchange or work and travel options are available?
Most guests who come on a work and travel basis help out on the farm on a casual basis – working as and when they please – and contributing a nominal amount to cover food, accommodation and laundry.
View full details here about our work and travel volunteer opportunity.
We do have a limited opportunity for people to do a 100% volunteer work exchange option. This is for people who really want to work and learn about organic farming. We only have one place per month. The minimum stay is 7 nights and we do expect that those who come on a 100% work exchange basis stay the 7 nights minimum and not disappear off after a couple of days.
View details about our 100% volunteer work exchange.
What other value do I receive with the work exchange and farm stay?
We invest a lot of personal time, energy and focus with our guests supporting them to learn new skills while enhancing their experience. Because our main focus is in being an education centre our guests gain so much from the knowledge and experiences they can gain. Our guests can learn and experience the following and more:
— ACCOMMODATION —
Are there any local hotels where I can stay if I want to?
The Monte del Rosario resort is very close. They have nice cosy enough rooms and they have a large swimming pool. It’s easy to get a tricycle to and from the resort for just 50 pesos each way. Here is the link to their site : montedelrosario.blogspot.com
What type of accommodation is available?
We have three spaces available:
- our new self-contained workshop and guest space – accommodates seven people in a large shared room at the Happy House with breakout space, kitchen and dinning area with three composting toilets available. We only ever put 5 people in the room though unless everyone is part of the same group.
- a large double room attached to the Little Happy House – suitable for couples or singles who want a private space
- our sky hut – a nice and simple bamboo hut – great for couples who want their own space natural space super close to nature
Can I use my own tent?
Yep for sure in the dry season (Mid Sept to Early May). We have a designated and flat camp site suitable for two large tents.
Is there a bathroom and toilet?
We have a 2 large private open air bathing areas. We use composting toilets on the farm. We have five composting toilets at the moment, three at the Happy House and two at the Little Happy House.
Do we need to bring bedding?
We provide all bedding and if you need we can provide towels so you only need your personal items.
— GENERAL QUESTIONS —
Is there internet?
We currently do not have direct internet access. However 3G mobile internet has great coverage in this area with GLOBE or SMART.
We suggest you buy a Globe or Smart LTE SIM if you want to use the fastest mobile internet at the farm. The LTE SIM cards are different to the normal SIM cards and are a little more expensive but they allow you to use the higher bandwidth 4G mobile services.
Globe has a number of great internet access plans starting from 50 pesos. They have a monthly unlimited plan for 1000 pesos and also have megabyte traffic plans. Smart has the same. So if you have a smart phone or a SIM fitted device, you can use the internet in this way. Globe SIM’s are available in most phone shops for 40 pesos. You can also buy a Globe wi-fi doggle for about 1500 pesos. These do not need a device to connect to and can supply internet to up to 10 devices. You just buy ordinary load to fund the connection or convert your load to a plan – we can help you with this. Internet cafe’s are also available in Rosario or Agoo which are easy 30 minute bus rides away.
Are there a lot of mosquitoes?
We do not have a lot of mosquitoes but at times such as after rain there are more. Mosquitoes only really come out here at dawn and dusk, the rest of the time there are none unless you are working in the undergrowth where there are a few during the day.
Is there an ATM / cash machine close by?
We suggest you have at least a weeks worth of cash on you when you arrive. There are two ATM’s in Rosario that use the PLUS and VISA networks but we have had issues with them at times or they are offline – so we do not fully rely on them. The nearest town with good ATM’s is AGOO which is 40 mins from our farm gate by tricycle and local bus.
Are there money changers close by?
We suggest you have at least a weeks worth of cash on you when you arrive. You can change money in Rosario (local town) but the rates are not the best. It is best to change larger sums in Baguio City where you can get a good rate.
Can you change money for us at the farm?
Right now we cannot offer this service.
Do I need to cook / can I cook?
Participation in meal preparation makes things a lot of fun. After all it’s usually very easy work so you can chat and ask a lot of questions. Meal preparation and after meal clean up is shared among all the guests. Normally Carol does all the cooking but she always loves help. And she always is happy to let you be fully in charge of cooking meals if you love to cook. Helping with the food is also a great way to learn new skills and have more fun. You can also help with the menu choice for sure and even go shopping for the ingredients if you like or hunt them down in the garden. We love creative input.
What type of food is served?
Our natural food is plant-based with a blend between Western, Filipino and other Asian dishes. We tend towards a pretty healthy diet but are not super rigid. The only meat served and acceptable on the farm is fish and if cooked is always served seperate. Those on a vegetarian or vegan diet will have no issues staying with us. The fish is normally our own from our organic fish ponds. We also buy and use eggs and dairy products. Other meat and meat products are not purchased or really welcome on the farm but again we are not super rigid but the general preference is not to consume normal meat and meat products. We do not class ourselves as vegetarian because it comes with a mixed philosophy – instead we focus on what makes us feel good – so we do not feel bad about other people eating meat. We just live simply and enjoy eating great healthy food mostly of plant and fruit origins.
Can I smoke on the farm?
Our farm has a non-smoking policy. You can smoke at the gate and dispose of your cigarette butts properly. We can also provide a health support programme for smoking guests who wish to quit smoking. Smoking of Marijuana is strictly prohibited and nor do we want people having this substance in their possession while visiting us. This also goes for any other illegal substances.
Can I drink on the farm?
We like to attract those who do not have a strong attraction to alcohol. We do drink beer and wine and enjoy a good beer sometimes after a hard days work, but generally we do not drink that much on the farm. The consumption of spirits is not permitted though due to the disturbing effects it can bring when consumed easily in excess. Nor do we welcome people coming back to the farm intoxicated. So in general we are quite relaxed around alcohol but do expect high levels of self responsibility when people drink 🙂
What if I am a vegetarian or a vegan?
Our natural diet is plant-based so is ‘vegetarian’ based with a large amount of ‘vegan’ based foods. We do eat fish and eggs. We are not vegetarians or vegans – we just do what feels good and do not adopt any philosophy around food. So if you normally do not eat meat you will have no issues at the Happy House Farm – same goes for ‘vegan’ diets. The farm only allows the consumption of fish and seafood anyhow. We focus on healthy food as much as possible and eating raw foods, fruit smoothies etc. We can adjust our meals to make sure you are always well looked after and of course you can always help out with the cooking to make meals more interesting. If you have a vegan diet then you may want to go shopping at the local market to supplement our normal supply of fruit and salad ingredients should you feel you need to.
— THINGS TO DO IN THE AREA —
What are the nearest cities to the farm?
The nearest cities are Baguio City and San Fernando (La Union). They are both about two hours away from our farm gate. We are about 30 minutes away from the place to catch the bus to both these cities. Baguio City and San Fernando are largish cities. Baguio is the bigger of the two high up in the mountains so it is nice and cool but sometimes wet. San Fernando is up the coast from us. Buses cost around 100 pesos for aircon – local buses are about 1/2 that price.
What is there to do in the local area?
There are a lot of places you can walk and we are just 1 hour from mountain trekking areas at the foot of the Baguio mountains. Baguio City is only 1 1/2 hours from the Happy House with buses every 15 minutes or so. Baguio City is the summer capital for the Philippines and is nice and cool being located at around 4000 meters above sea level. There are many beaches close by. We can see the sea from our property. By bus it will take 1 hour. By walking it will take also about an hour. You can also go fishing at the beach. We have lots of worms at the farm which are great for bait. Some of our neighbors go fishing and probably would love to take you along – especially if you gift them a small amount of money or but them beer! Just near the main highway is a resort with swimming pool and small zoo. They only charge 50 pesos for swimming pool entry. They have a restaurant and bar. it’s just 20 minutes from the farm. On the road to Baguio city in the town of Pugo there are two great value and fun outdoor adventure resorts. You can do rock climbing, BBQ, walking by river, zip lining, paintball fighting or just relaxing by the pool. All Baguio buses pass by the resorts. Pugo Ad ( www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkWC6q1PAWk) and Kulrura Splash are the main two ( www.kulturasplashwave.com ) Let us know what you find on Google – we are still exploring and learning ourselves!
Are there any great beaches nearby or any surfing spots?
There is a ok surfing beach at San Juan 20 minutes drive past the city of San Fernando. This is about 2 hours bus ride from our farm and can be done in a day trip. They hire surfing equipment at the beach. If you walk to the local beach – just 15 minutes away you can catch a local bus for 10 pesos to take you south to some nice swimming beaches about 5 km South of our beach. Our local beach is a fishing village beach so great place to get some boat rides but the beach is not the best for swimming.
Are there any local schools where I can participate?
There is a local primary school – Gumot Elementary – that is 10 minutes walking distance from our farm. We have a strong relationships with them so that our guests can work in the school and support them. Here is a list of current Education volunteer projects. Schools here are funded mainly by the community with the government only covering the basics such as teacher salaries so voluntary support is always welcomed.
How far are the Banaue Rice Terraces from you?
This World Heritage site is about 8 – 10 hours by public transport north of us. Most travel via Baguio City. From Baguio to Banaue takes around 6 hours. It takes 2 hours to get to Baguio from our farm gate.
How far are the Sagada Caves from you?
This amazing area of Sagada with it’s hanging coffins and amazing caves is about 150km from Baguio City. This will take you about 6 – 7 hours by bus via Baguio City from our farm.
Are there other organic farms close to you?
We are the only one in this area from what we know. There is one on the way to Baguio City but we have not visited them yet and there are two within travel distance the other side of Baguio.
— VISAS & PERMITS —
What visa is required for the Philippines?
Sorry we cannot really fully help you with this seeing there are so many different countries and rules do vary a little so do make sure you check the details yourself. However, most Western and major Asian passport holders can get a visa on arrival for free for 30 days. This can normally be extended by up to 2 months at a time for a fee. To make sure we strongly suggest you visit the Philippine Immigration site and check for your passport nationality or ask your travel agent. You can also often extend your 30 day permit on arrival at the airport by 30 days upon payment of a fee. You have to do this when you are at the immigration desk entering the country. Once you have passed immigration (first desk right off the plane) there is no where at the airport you can get an extension.
Where can I renew my visa?
Baguio City is one of best places to renew and renewals can normally be processed the same day within a 2 hour period. As far as we know visa renewals can also be done at San Fernando city. Both places are 2 hours away from our farm gate. We travel to Baguio City each month.
— WORK PROJECTS —
What projects will I be working on?
Right now (2015) we are working on soil management, water tank creation, tree planting and vegetable gardens creation. We however have a massive number of projects but we just need to generate funds for each one. Visit our organic farm projects page to learn more. Each week there will be a variety of work to do. While we have regular tasks like watering and worm feeding to do there is a tremendous variety of things to work on. We also welcome creative individuals who want to take the focus for a project and drive it forward. Everyday regular projects are :
- Caring for trees – composting & weed control
- Weeding in garden areas
- Firewood processing
Do I need to be physically fit to work on the farm?
We find that most of our guests are not used to doing physical work especially under the sun and in heat (around 30 – 34 degrees C), but most people adjust quickly. And with us having a flexible work option you can pace yourself. We are very focused on working with the flow of the day as much as possible so that we work in the early cool morning and cool afternoon.
— WHAT YOU SHOULD BRING OR PROVIDE —
What should I bring with me?
We strongly suggest you buy these in advance if you can :
- Rubber boots – we probably do not have a pair that fits – they are cheap to buy – you can buy them locally or in advance
- Rubberised gloves – again these can be purchased locally or you can buy in advance – we do not provide gloves normally
- Sun screen – this is hard to buy locally! The locals don’t use it and it’s not a tourist place so BRING IN ADVANCE if you need it – we do not use it – if we get burnt we use Aloe Vera
- Bring work clothes especially a long sleeve shirt – you will need this for sun protection – these can be purchase second hand locally for a few pesos if needed – we do not have any spare work clothes
- If you want things like citronella oil for mosquito repellant do bring them. It is NOT possible to find them locally (we request people avoid using DEET based repellants if possible seeing we’re an organic farm)
- All your own toiletries including toilet paper if you need it — we do not use this on the farm, we use water, so sometimes we do not have toilet roll
— FARM PURPOSE AND PHILOSOPHY —
Why is the farm called Happy House Farm?
The name was chosen to remind us all that life is too short not to be happy. Of course we may get upset in life, but the trick is how FAST can we get back into focus and be happy again! We recognise that happiness is a dynamic choice that is made each and every moment of each day. We are blessed to be surrounded by amazing local people that are predominantly happy despite their difficult living situations. They act as a strong reminder to us to always focus on being grateful for all we have.
Is the farm religious based?
The Happy House Farm follows no religion or structured philosophy.
What is the Happy House Farm’s purpose?
The farm exists simply as a place where people can come and rediscover how to live life simply again. Additionally we take a spiritual focus point in life so for those who want, there are opportunities to explore a deeper sense of spirituality during your stay. City living has become very over complicated these days resulting in a lot of life stress. We are here to show a different way that will enrich your normal living experience giving you a greater sense of joy, connection and understanding as well as learn practical skills on how to live an easier life full of fun and joy. While we are focused on simple living, we do not focus on isolating ourselves from the rest of the world. Instead our focus is to learn new inner ways to create simplicity on the inside so that no matter where we live we can be at peace and find joy and love life with all it’s diversity. The Happy House Farm is first and foremost an education centre. The organic farm management is it’s secondary function. We are not running the farm commercially so most of what we produce is consumed by ourselves and our guests – yummy!
Who created the Happy House Farm?
Carol Javier created the farm in September 2011. Carol is a Filipino being born just 20 km from the farm in the town of Sison. Carol spent 1/2 of her life living in Singapore and returned to live in the Philippines in 2010.
Is the farm a certified organic farm?
The Happy House Farm is not currently a certified organic farm. Because we are not running the farm commercially we probably will not become certified. Right now the farm is in conversion. It was farmed commercially for rice, peanuts, sweet potato and tapioca before we purchased the land. However the previous owners were subsistence farmers and used low levels of inorganic fertilisers and limited pesticides. The soil however has been drained so our primary focus is soil reconstruction and soil erosion management. We are doing this through worm farming and tree and bamboo planting.
How big is the farm?
Currently the farm is nearly abour 1.2 hectares which is 12,000 m2. Around half of the farm is under trees – planted plus native with the other half being vegetable area and rice paddy fields. It is planned to grow the farm to around 3 hectares as the adjoining land comes available for sale.