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The Farm



There will be 10 billion people on earth by 2050, which means there will be a greater need for farms to provide food and nourishment. Farms will also play a key role in improving air quality, recreation for mind and body, health, and aesthetic benefits. Farms are vital in the country’s development.


There are three farms I want to promote with their own stories of love, resilience, and social values close to mine. These are The Farm at San Benito, Batangas, where a dear friend of mine, Doc Susan Balingit works as its Medical Consultant; the other is the People’s Farm of the Tabang Bikol Movement, a one-hectare land now returned to its owner, the Archdiocese of Caceres after five years of possession. The other is the rich landlord’s farm, which my late father’s landless farming parents toiled for decades since they can remember.


The first is The Farm at San Benito, a unique 48-hectare eco-luxury resort with personalized health optimization programs, wellness cuisine, and relaxation activities. This exclusive health farm resort in Lipa City, Batangas, offers holistic wellness programs, vegan cooking, and exclusive amenities. Under the guidance of Doc Susan, The Farm provides advanced diagnosis, holistic treatments, and plant-based wellness foods. Its quiet Filipino-inspired design, surrounded by natural lush forest cover, creates a unique, peaceful environment.


The resort mainly attracts me because it combines a natural wellness program with healthy foods, including vegetarian, pescetarian, and ayurvedic options. The Farm is regarded as the most expensive health resort in the country, with its clientele from far and wide ready to pay as much as US 111 dollars or PhP 7,000 for an overnight stay and a touch of its healing facilities.  With a farm-to-table serving of fresh foods from farmlands planted to fruits and vegetables and exhilarating holistic natural treatments, The Farm is a dream experience, though expensive, that I wish I could experience with my family in my lifetime. An exclusive Farm, with its elite pampering and rejuvenating, that a lucky few can experience.


People’s Farm


The second is the People’s Farm of the Tabang Bikol Movement, also known as a mini citronella-growing farm in the middle of barangay San Agustin, Canaman, Camarines Sur before the turn-over. With the assistance of the DA regional office, the People’s Farm was instrumental in propagating thousands of citronella plants as mosquito repellents in the widespread drive to help arrest the rise of dengue incidents in the communities after Typhoon Nina. It was a dream farm for disaster survivors from the marginalized sectors that TBM helped organize and set up after typhoons hit Camarines Sur quickly. With the popularization of citronella as an effective mosquito repellent, the People’s Farm inspired more growers, and a social enterprise of essential oil producers organized using distillation machines that the Department of Agriculture-Region V and the Central Office awarded to TBM in 2017. The other machines continue operating at the Berde Asul TBM building at the back of the Mariners gymnasium in Baras, Canaman. An off-grid solar power panel from the DoST now powers up the Citronella Distillation Plant and naturally lights up the surroundings.


In my column in November last year, I wrote that, like in a story and a song, the People’s Farm will soon end after five years of a productive agreement between the Archdiocese of Caceres and the Ilaw ng Kababaihan, members of the People’s Organization of Disaster Survivors (PODiS) organized by Tabang Bikol Movement in the aftermath of Typhoon Nina in 2016. Those years with the Farm as the center of TBM community-based events were many memorable experiences for many. The People’s Farm became a sanctuary for lost souls and the birthplace of special events especially during the Pandemic - the Ilaw ng Kababaihan, the HEAL or Health, Environment, and Alternative Livelihood program, production of Ilaw citronella scented candles, the GBT or Gulayan sa Bakuran at Tahanan, the Balikasan or Back to Nature campaign for climate change, Kurit Aki, a psycho-social intervention for children of disaster survivors among families, Pagheras of agricultural inputs and relief. Here, TBM organized the Bugkos Kabataan, a community-based youth organization engaged in social entrepreneurship—and such endeavors extended to other Camarines Sur towns of Masbate and Albay.


The collective experiences with the People’s Farm and the evolved social enterprises inspired a two-year Social Enterprises Development project funded by the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) Central Office.


The landlord’s farm


My Lolo Juan Jimenez, my late Daddy Aming’s father, was a landless farmer from the 1920s to the 1950s who toiled on farms owned by wealthy landlords of Libmanan. These were farms in the barangays in Libmanan, Camarines Sur.  Then, as now, landless farmers dominated the population of Camarines Sur and Bicol. Daddy Aming’s farming family owned no land except those in their clay pots. Since immemorial, they had lived in Libmanan as true blue Bicolanos of Libmanan descent. They toiled the wealthy landowners’ farms.


Unlike one super-rich LGU executive allegedly involved in high-stakes gaming and accused of syndicated crimes, who repeatedly claimed she had lived in her father’s secluded Farm in a Northern Luzon town since childhood, she does not know farming and cannot speak a single sentence in her native tongue. What a farm life she led!

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