As a kid, I didn't understand my late father when he told me he and my mother will go back to farming once all the kids finish school. He didn't live to see that day but I finally understood why he would want to retire in a farm. The air is cleaner. The food, picked from the backyard, can't be any fresher. The breeze, especially in the afternoons and evenings, are sleep-inducing refreshing and best of all, free. In the morning, the air is rife with the sound of roosters and barking dogs; at night, by the drone of crickets.THOUGHTS ON THE FARM LIFE. The experience still inspired me to look back to what my father said about farm living and by this, I mean really living off the land and not merely having one as a showpiece. I have very high respect for farmers. They have a connection with the earth that we city slickers and slackers have lost (hopefully, not forever). For me, they have the most important job in the world. Without them, we will starve. While on the farm, I bewailed the lack of SmartBro signal so I can check my emails but the farmers are presently bewailing a more important insufficiency: water. I stayed all of nearly three days but it was enough to give me a reality check. Away from the city, there are more pressing realities that relegate all other worries to the background. In the still evenings, one is left to ponder, the silence (or the drone of crickets) making it seem like you can hear your thoughts. Under the spell of the moonlight and the mountain, things do seem to be different out here.
In any case, we live in curious times. At any given hour, you can stumble upon a friend or officemate who's plowing or harvesting on their computer. Yeah, you guessed it right, Farmville or Farmtown. Hmmm, if only more people will express interest in real farming...
THE REAL FARMVILLE? Getting an out-of-town assignment to Hacienda San Benito in Batangas was a welcome respite even though it was still work-related. Touted as the "real Farmville," HSB takes the leisure farm concept several steps further. Instead of owners getting individual plots, they get to co-own shares in the community farmland. For a fee, someone can manage the farm -- from planting to selling the mostly organic produce. Yeah, it's sort of the Farmville for the moneyed, with amenities like a clubhouse, horse stable, a petting zoo of ostriches. There's even an apiary near the outdoor cabanas being used for spa-style massages. The place is still a work in progress. We came in the middle of the dry season and most of the farm is reduced to brown earth. As a photographer, it was great to have blue skies though it would've been good to pair them with green, verdant growth.
Photos taken during a photo assignment for Seair InFlight Magazine, June-July issue • For more info on the leisure farm, visit www.haciendasanbenito.com