Baguio’s pony boys used to get their livelihood tending to horses used by tourists who go horseback riding. Even though the pandemic shut down Baguio’s tourism industry, the pony boys continue to make a living from their steeds, this time through selling compost made from horse manure.
Horse manure contains grass and grain fibers, minerals, shed cells, fats and water. It is recognized as an excellent source of essential plant nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus (P) and potassium (K).
In addition, manure returns organic matter and other nutrients such as calcium, magnesium and sulfur to the soil, building soil fertility and quality.
Roselito Simbahan, a member of the Wright Park Pony Boys Association, said that they started making the compost fertilizer after the declaration of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in March.
The declaration of ECQ left the pony boys incomeless as their primary clients are tourists who come to the city for a vacation.
Without the tourists, they still needed to survive, so they had to do something to provide their family’s needs. Their family includes the horses that require food and nutrients too to survive the pandemic.
Sometime in March, a person who bought horse manure, which the pony boys used to just give away for years when the income was flourishing. The pony boy who sold the manure realized that he can make money and earn from horse excrement. “We saw the fast sales and we all followed and made compost fertilizer,” Simbahan said in Ilocano.
The 200 members of the WPPBA came up with a plan to produce compost soil and fertilizer as a source of income while tourists were not yet allowed in the city.
The pony boys currently sell pure dried horse manure. They also tried to mix it with top soil, coco-feed, Alnus, others were mixed with rice hull, creating different mixtures for clients to choose from.
He said they sell a 25-kilo sack of plain compost—black soil or horse manure—at P150.
The 6-in-1 compost with coco feed, Alnus, black soil, compost, rice hull, and vermicast is sold at P200 per 25 kilos.
Lucky enough, the pandemic opened new opportunities for the pony boys, especially with people locked in their homes and making use of their time being hooked on gardening.
“Maraming nagtatanim kaya dumami may kailangan ng compost fertilizer kaya gumanda ang benta,” Simbahan said. (There were many people who began gardening who needed compost fertilizer, making sales better.)
They have costumers and big buyers who buy as much as 100 sacks of compost and fertilizer. There are also buyers who buy one sack, and others who just get a kilo of it.
Horse manure is a good source of nutrients and a popular addition to many home gardens. Composting horse manure can help your compost pile become supercharged.
He said that while the sales was incomparable to what they used to earn as pony boys, it gave them a little income for survival while the pandemic was plaguing not just the city, but the world.
Simbahan said that sales are just enough to sustain their needs, as well as for their horses, because horses too need to be fed to help them survive.
He said that the horse manure that they used to just give away is now helping them survive amid the pandemic. With the holidays here and tourists allowed to enter the city, the pony boys are hopeful that better days are coming.
Photos by Zaldy Comanda