This IG-Worthy Glamping Site Is Actually a Farm
Fireflies, butterfly pea flower drinks, and one very Instagrammable hut.
(SPOT.ph) There are a few places that inspire wanderlust with just a single photo, Alhibé, A Farm by M+S is one of those spots. If you’ve seen their social media accounts, the whole place is like a Pinterest board come to life—the modern triangular huts with screen walls, floor-grazing curtains, and matching lamps outside their doors; the campsite with large tents; the swimming pool that mirrors the sky and is surrounded by all sorts of lush greenery; and the dining that seats you low, close to the earth, and the food that comes in wooden bowls on woven chargers. But a place like this doesn’t just come to life all on its own. It’s cultivated by an architect and interior designer duo, M+S Studio, which explains the eye it took to develop the farm. In case you’re wondering, yes, it’s a real agricultural farm with farm animals, not just a wellness-farm-slash-glamping-site.
Building Alhibé Farm
As early as 2015, the urge to disconnect from the city and reconnect with nature was swimming around the minds of Marvin Albert G. Mariñas and Sheryl Germino-Mariñas. Once they found the land in Carmen, which was coincidentally near their family in the province, the work began.
“The lot used to be a conventional farm, exploited and treated with chemicals. So we decided to let it rest and heal itself for about two years for soil regeneration, while we started the planning and brainstorming of ideas. While waiting, we planted a lot of bamboo in the perimeter—fruit and native trees, the perennial plants that will serve as a base of the ecosystem we wanted to create,” Mariñas shared. Mariñas considers themselves the stewards of Alhibé, in charge of planning, designing, and building the farm, not just managing it.
While the farm itself was being prepped, they installed an inflatable pool. The water from the namesake alhibe (water tank) was so clear that they just had to turn it into a permanent fixture—a real swimming pool. Because of its location and topography, it doesn’t require any pumps. Spring water just flows into it.
From there, they made a more permanent place for them to stay as well. Using the infested nonnative trees in the area, they then built a hut for weekend stays for themselves. It wasn’t initially open to the public, but to help with the costs of developing and running a farm, they put the place up on Airbnb. Thanks to its IG-worthy aesthetic, it trended and guests started coming. This isn’t to say that it’s all about the ‘Gram life, though. They really encourage you to be one with nature.
Mariñas explained, “Our ongoing development is to help promote natural farming, since we don’t use chemicals with our plants and [want to] spread education about food sustainability. Soon our Food Forest and Edible Landscaping will help guests, especially the future generations, appreciate where we get our food from and the importance of native trees in our ecosystem.”
On occasion, Alhibé will play host to workshops organized by a third party, the most recent of which is by Bamboo Bootcamp. Bamboo in particular is being grown and utilized in the farm for its fast growth rate and overall sustainability. If you need proof, just look at the bed frame in the hut or the bantawan. The café that’s in the works also features this material.
A Relaxing Stay at Alhibé
When you book a stay at the farm (starts at P9,364/night, inclusive of breakfast and dinner), you’re getting the entire one-hectare property all to yourself. There’s the two-storey hut with a kitchenette and dining on the lower floor. The sleeping area is on the top floor and has power sockets and an electric fan. There’s also a huge balcony-cum-lounge area. Then there’s the campsite with the tents. Some tents have clear panels on the roof, so you can see the stars, while other tents have windows on the sides—no claustrophobia vibes here. If it rains, the tents might not have access to power. (This is not an issue for the hut.) Instead, you can always charge your devices at solar-powered outlets. Cell reception is sometimes spotty and so is the wifi—expected when you’re in the province, really.
The general consensus of previous guests is that the staff is ready to help you out at any time. But you do have to understand that you’re immersing yourself in nature. They have no control over what critter pops up, as an Airbnb review mentioned. Because of that, Alhibé advises guests to bring their own insect repellant, especially during the rainy season.
Enthusiastic reviews also say that you really don’t have to worry about looking for something to do. The farm is more than enough to keep you preoccupied, especially if you want to disconnect. You can even go firefly-watching or just cozy up by the bonfire at night. You’re free to bring your own food, so we recommend including giant marshmallows and other fireside essentials on your list. There’s also a mini forest trail, a patag field (as opposed to the rest of the naturally sloping land), the Alhibé Swing and Birds Nest Lounge, and a bantawan Yoga Deck.
There are also sports equipment, board games, and musical instruments for guests to use. If you’re lucky, maybe Khasy the Golden Retriever that lives on the farm will play with you. As for food, breakfast and dinner are already covered in an overnight stay.
Farm to Table
They initially planned the dinner menu to be plant-based—everything from the garden—but have had to adjust based on guests requests. They now grow their own native chickens and buy some produce from nearby farmers to supplement their menu. All the eggs are also from the free-range chickens grown on the farm.
Make sure to try the Blue Biko (P300) when you drop by the farm. “This was added during the lockdowns—when our blue ternates had been blooming a lot and we explored desserts and drinks with these blossoms,” Mariñas says. Now Alhibé has Blue Biko, Butterfly Pea Milk (P110), Butterfly Pea & Lemon Soda (P110), and Butterfly Pea Blossom & Mint Tisane (P85) on their menu. They also have nangka-themed desserts such as the Nangka Float (P120) and Nangka Ice Cream (P315), with the jackfruit from the land itself.
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