Tucked away in northern Cebu is a cozy spot where cowboys go to play. Ironically and much to our appreciation, they teach us to take the “ranch” out of dressing and entertain us to a nourishing meal, country style.
When we think of farms in the Philippines, our minds are grazed by mental images of rice paddies and carabaos. Seldom does a barn with horses register; but to the Jarques, it’s no farm without the handsome steed. Their sprawling three-hectare property in Danao borne from their love of animals has been family tradition for about eight years now.
A good one-hour drive north from Cebu City, the fragrance of napier grass (grown for the horses) mingles with earthy musk in fresh air. Swarmed with ducks, chickens, turkeys, horses, goats and sheep, it’s a farm that would make even Ronald McDonald proud. Patriarch Cisco Jarque spends most of his Sundays tending to the animals. On a regular day, he’d allot three hours for his trip: one hour for travel, one hour to make his rounds, and one hour to head home. “Our children all ride horses.
Paco has been horseback riding since he was four,” Marilen, Cisco’s wife, says of their only son. Family visits to the farm are usually spontaneous. A member would decide to spend the day there and be surprised to see others who’d already arrived earlier, seeking the same therapeutic relaxation only the farm can give them. The bonus, of course, is even more quality time with la familia.
Paco Jarque and wife, Monique Del Gallego Jarque, owners of deli-dessert café, The Pantry, eased open the fences of their country haven and lured us in for a good ol’ southern style luncheon. We bid good riddance to heavily buttered fried chicken and grimy pork and beans and instead worked up an appetite for a de-”light”-ful feast.
by Pia Echevarria
photography Maitina Borromeo