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Free-range chickens earn Abra woman French award

By TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 03:25:00 04/20/2008

Filed Under: Awards and Prizes, Food

MANILA, Philippines?If anyone had told Arestina ?Tina? Morados that she would end up a chicken farmer, she would have thought it was a joke.

As a child growing up in a crowded neighborhood in suburban Novaliches, Quezon City, Morados, 31, never even tended their garden as she dreaded the sight of earthworms. Nor did she care about chickens.

?I was always more interested in something else, like dancing,? she said in an interview at her Makati condominium.

And yet Morados now raises free-range ?French colored chicken? in a farm in Abra province which she and her partner, Frenchman Gerard Papillon, started in 2000 and which they have named Pamora Farm. (Pamora combines the couple?s surnames.)

From the farm, 400 kilometers north of Manila, Pamora products, which range from dressed chicken to eggs to chicken liver pat, find their way to the shelves of specialty stores and supermarkets in Metro Manila, and beyond.

Not surprisingly, the humanely raised Pamora chicken and its by-products have become a hit with Filipino and French palates.

And it didn?t take long before the French government noticed.

On April 10, French Ambassador Gerard Chesnel conferred the rank of ?Chevalier de L?Ordre du Merite Agricole? (Order of Merit for Agriculture, Grade of Knight) on Morados for promoting French agriculture systems.

First Filipino to win

Morados was the first Filipino woman to receive the prestigious award established by a French agriculture minister in 1883. The order includes the grades Knight, Officer and Commander.

?It is rare because very few people get it,? Chesnel said at the cocktail-reception for Morados at the French ambassador?s official residence in North Forbes. The guests included Pamora?s early customers.

?It?s a very special award,? said Chesnel, which was created ?to thank people useful in the promotion of French agriculture and French interests.?

?The farm is extremely successful. I think it?s a very useful, vivid presence of France in northern Luzon. We are very grateful to Tina for helping us represent French interests there,? Chesnel said in his speech.

The ambassador also cited Morados for helping set up the French booth in a recent international bazaar and in the Agrilink Exhibition fairs in Manila for the past three to four years.

Quite a feat for a woman who dropped out of high school in 1991 to work as a nightclub dancer in Japan, and with her earnings bought a small piece of land in Abra and invested in chicken farming.

?For someone like me who didn?t finish school, it was unbelievable,? said Morados, who is a Tingguian from Abra.

?It has yet to sink in,? she said.

The Pamora Farm in Barangay Garreta, Pidigan town, the Morado family?s hometown, is among a growing number of farms in the country that grow the French colored chicken breed for 81 to 90 days.

Here in the sprawling, 4-hectare farm at the foot of the Cordilleras, chicks graze on grass and feed on organic materials while being allowed to roam freely in large ranges under the shade of trees, hence the name free-range chickens.

Living naturally

Free range is a method of farming husbandry where the animals are permitted to roam freely instead of being contained in any manner. The principle is to allow the animals as much freedom as possible, to live out their instinctual behaviors in a reasonably natural way.

Pamora chickens, from the time they are bought a day old from breeding farms in Antipolo and Batangas, are fed chemical-free feeds.

After at least 81 days, when they grow to the required size and weigh 1.8 to 2 kilograms, the chickens are brought to the farm?s poultry dressing plant, where they are gutted, dressed and packaged for sale.


The liver and gizzard are processed into confits and pats?using a recipe from Papillon?s grandmother?and bottled for distribution.

Pamora produces liver, breast, breast & liver, gizzard, and gizzard & liver pates and these, like the dressed chicken and eggs, are delivered by vans to Metro Manila and elsewhere.

?We tried to sell the chicken in the market in Bangued [Abra?s capital]. Nobody wanted to buy it. It was too big,? Papillon, 64, who grew up in a farm in Burgundy, France, recalls with a laugh.

But after they supplied 50 chickens to the Intercontinental Hotel in Makati for the monthly luncheon meeting of the French Chamber of Commerce in 2001, they knew the business would click.

Home delivery at first

?The chef said that 20, 25 chickens would suffice for the 80 guests. But still we brought 50 chickens. You know what happened? Nothing was left of the chickens,? Papillon said.

?And the next day, the French were calling and asking ?Where can we find the chickens?? So we told them we?ll bring five chickens to your homes,? he said.

For a time, they did deliver to the homes of Filipino friends and the French community, until bulk orders began coming in.

Soon after, they were supplying Pamora products to specialty stores, distributors, restaurants and a Metro Manila hotel. They also have customers in Abra.

After attending a seminar on SASSO free-range chickens in December 1999 given by Bobby Inocencio of A.P. Inocencio Farms in Teresa, Rizal, Morados started the farm on a 1,000 square meter lot, mainly to give her parents a source of income.


Initially, she and Papillon bought 50 day-old chicks at P25 apiece from Inocencio. As the business grew, they acquired adjoining properties and expanded the farm to four hectares.

Morados and Papillon met in 1996 at a bar in Makati?s red light district on P. Burgos Street, where Morados was working as a dancer following her stint in Japan. Papillon was in the country on a business trip. They dated and then started living together. The couple have a 10-year-old son, Gael.

Morados, who speaks fluent French and who took a short course in orchard management at the University of the Philippines in Los Baos in 2002, manages the farm full-time with a small staff headed by her parents and a sister.

?She?s on top of everything,? said Papillon, who runs a construction business in the Middle East.

Idyllic site

Pamora Farm has grown its business. From producing 1,600 chickens in six months in 2002, sales volume has reached 3,000 chickens a month.

The farm?s idyllic site, a patchwork of chicken ranges, vegetable gardens, and cornfields fringed by trees, has been drawing tourists as well. It has been designated as an eco-agro tourism destination by the Department of Tourism.

And Morados, who swears nothing in her childhood prepared her for farming, feels right at home here.

Copyright 2015 Philippine Daily Inquirer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.




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