Even though durian trees take 5-8 years to start producing fruit, durian farmers typically grow what the market is buying NOW — not what people will want 5-8 years down the road.
Bernard is a future-thinker. He’s on a campaign to get local durian farmers to preserve their old varieties for the future.
And he believes that as soon as people find out about the bright orange, gorgeous, peanut-butter thick durian called Durio graveolens, it will be what people crave and what the faceless, abstruse “market” values.
So he’s keeping as much of the genetics on his nursery as possible, making Bautista Durian Nursery & Farm one of the more diverse durian hotspots in the Philippines.
About Bautista Durian Nursery & Farm
The Bautista Durian Nursery & Farm is located along the highway if you are climbing up the mountain to Kidapawan.
By the time you reach Makilala, the road has smoothed to a gradual upward tilt, the highway widens and smoothens and becomes lined with Durian Durian Durian the whole way to Kidapawan.
It’s very miss easy to miss the Bautista Durian Nursery & Farm, which is just one small house on the right-hand side of the road with some durians and longkongs out front.
But it’s here you can find everything good of Philippines Durian.
Bautista’s Philippines Durian Collection
Bernardo (Bernard) Bautista is a durian collector.
For the nursery, he keeps all the normal commercial varieties in high demand — like Puyat, Duyaya, Nanam, Sulit-Ganyao, Arancillo, Umali, D101, Musang King, Puangmanee…
They’re good quality durians. The Sulit-Ganyao we had when we visited in early September was sticky, bitter, and nutty, with a hint of alcohol.
But Sulit-Ganyao is not exciting for Bernard. It’s too well-established, a fairly well-known variety from Belviz Farms in Calinan.
What interests Bernard is finding good quality, local durian trees and grafting them, encouraging local farmers to keep things that are unique and tasty.
The day we visited, he had a few fruits of a new variety he’d found, from an area called Balawan.
His main passion is a type of durian that people have been cutting down for generations.
Every time he hears of a new surviving tree, he arrives to learn that the owner has just cut his down due to lack of “market” value.
For being faceless and abstruse, the “market” sure has a lot of power.
Such power that people are getting rid of this beauty:
Bernard actually grew up with a Durio graveolens tree planted by his father, Bernardo Junior, around 1999.
As a child, Bernard III didn’t like Durio graveolens very much, because it wasn’t as sweet and soupy-soft as the other durians.
Somehow, when he got older he found that the flavor was so intense, it was addicting. He started munching it morning, noon and night while working at the farm. It’s still his preferred durian — and he thinks it can be for other Filipinos too.
So while many Mindanao durian farmers have told Bernard he is wasting his time — Bernard’s fearless father told him to go ahead and try.
The Love Story of Bautista Durian Nursery
Bernard says he has always admired his father for being brave.
Before Bernard was born, Bernardo Bautista Senior (nickname “Jun”) followed his own True Love:
She was a young woman attending nursing school in Manila who was from a teeny tiny town on the foothills of Mt. Apo, on the southernmost island in the Philippines.
Instead of finishing his engineering degree and living in the big city, Sir Jun found himself selling lanzones, marangs, and durians on the side of the highway that ran in front of his new bride’s family home.
Mostly they sold a Thai-variety of lanzones called “longkong”, but also mangosteen, marang and sometimes durian from the trees the new Mrs. Bautista’s mother had planted in the 1940’s
Below ↓: Bernard with his grandma’s now 70-year-old tree
In the early 1990’s, Philippines Airlines began regular flights between Davao City and Manila. Sir Jun used his family roots to begin shipping fruits to the city for much better prices than what they could get on the side of the road. Business soared, especially for the super sweet & giant-sized longkongs.
But then the Asian Financial Crisis hit in 1998.
Philippines Airlines went bankrupt and in September completely stopped flights between Davao City and Manila. September is the peak of the fruit season.
Suddenly, Bernard’s father lost his market and his business. He went bankrupt. The fruits ordered and readied for shipment to Manila sold for pennies in a flooded local market.
Luckily, a friend suggested he start selling baby plants as well as fruits. Jun had already taught himself to graft, and started a small collection of unusual durians and other fruits.
One friend gifted him some Malaysian durians. Another gifted him Durio graveolens, the orange-fleshed, neon-thorned fruit that would become his son’s obsession.
And to Jun’s surprise, the nursery business did very well — far better than the business of sending fruit to Manila. Today, Bautista Nursery is one of the largest plant nurseries in the country, and the most diverse.
Bernard’s Unusual Durian Nursery
Bautista Nursery grows almost everything in the 5-acre plot.
They sell cacao and mangosteen, jackfruits and mangoes to supply local commercial farms.
When we visited, his workers were busy cleft-grafting thousands of rambutans trees.
Here you can buy all the regular commercial Philippines durian plants — but his secret stash is all the weird ones — red and orange graveolens, Durio oxleyanus, Durio dulcis, Durio kutjensis, Durio lowianus, some Suluk hybrids.
And the most unusual thing, is that he is able to get an Export Phytosanitary Certificate for durian trees.
If you can get an Import Permit for your own country, you can buy any of these rare durian species from the Bautista Nursery.
Bernard’s Kadayawan Durian Stall
For one month during Kadayawan, you can buy Bernard’s Durio graveolens from the small pop-up stall in the parking lot of SM Eco Land, along with all the others like Puyat, Kob Yellow, Sulit-Ganyao, etc.
This year, he even sold Durio graveolens ice cream! (He’s promised that next year he will make us some vegan versions, we’re holding you to your promise Bernard 😋)
Find Bautista Nursery
Visit the Bautista Farm Facebook Page to book an appointment with Bernard or order durians/ durian plants.
Bautista Durian Nursery is on the right hand side of the main road leading from Digos to Kidapawan, just before you arrive to Makilala Market.
You can find it on the map below ↓↓
Philippines Durian Map
Use this map to navigate to durian hotspots around Davao City and beyond! Click on pins to find blog posts about each location, or check out our new interactive App for iOS.