The first thing that comes to my mind when one mentions Manolo Fortich in Bukidnon, is pineapple. The cool climate, vast plateaus and fertile land have all made this municipality a perfect environment for Del Monte’s Smooth Cayenne variety. With the multinational company’s 20,000 acres of pineapple plantations, there might be more pineapples than there are humans living in Manolo Fortich.
Del Monte’s beginnings in the province could be traced back to Philippine Packing Corporation (PPC) when the Americans started an experimental plantation in the 1920s. Since then, this industry paved the way for other economic developments such as cattle raising and a busy cannery in Misamis Oriental, not only in Bukidnon but in the entire region as well.
The Americans indeed have left more than the pineapple as an enduring legacy in Manolo Fortich. One proof of this is Camp Philips which was named after Lawrence Philips, one of PPC’s pioneers. It was previously named as ‘Camp 12.’ This is among 17 the camps or housing settlements for the company’s workforce.
The Del Monte Golf Course was built in 1928 by the company’s second President, James McNeil Crawford. This is an exclusive 18-hole golf course that boasts of well-maintained grass and challenging fairways.
For those who are not into the golf, the Del Monte Clubhouse, offers what many have claimed as the best and the meanest steaks in the Philippines. I could not confirm or refute this yet since I have only tried their burgers and refillable pineapple juice. This is something that I’d like to do someday.
It is curious then to note how the humble pineapple has transformed the Manolo Fortich through the years. Recently, a popular zipline has become another reason why many have come to this place. But for me, it will always be the pineapples and driving through a seeming endless sea of it, that will continue to endear me to Manolo Fortich.