Visiting our family farm, learning about our roots, and seeing how passionate and driven my Mom is about developing it was an experience
One of the reasons we vacationed this year to the Philippine Islands was because of my Mom. She turned 75 years old in May and wanted both my brother's family and my family to meet her in the Philippines so that she could share in a celebration of her birthday, her love for her homeland, and our family's history. And one of those places was Narra, Palawan.
Life of Simplicity
“If you want something to grow, you have to start to cultivate it.”
In the short time we were in Narra, my Mom shared stories about how my grandfather lived and worked in Palawan, how he gave back to the community, and how he provided jobs and food to those who needed it. She also shared how after years of neglect and overgrown vegetation, my Mom wanted to return to Narra to develop her portion of the family land to have a place for anyone in the family to visit or get away from their busy daily life, as well as have crops to provide an income to keep the land self-sustaining. Narra is an agricultural community for the most part; however, near our family's property we were close to the mountains where nickel is mined and exported. There is also a natural hot spring just down the road from the farm. We went there, so that Mom could show it to us, and Mom & I went and soaked our feet to relax for a little while.
On the farm there is a very simple nipa hut or "bahay kubo," although not on stilts as traditionally built, with two bedrooms, a bathroom, a small living area, and a kitchen. Many of the supplies to build the nipa hut were procured from the farm land like the coconut trees which were cut down to clear a small portion on which to build. Any natural resources available on site were definitely not wasted. It is a very basic and humble dwelling with the necessities for when my Mom visits the Philippines. The caretakers and farmers of the farm take pride in their work and joked that "It's not a 5-star hotel; however, we hope that you will enjoy your stay with us." And we did. We explored the family land, walked on the beach, listened to my Mom's vision, visited the local hot spring, ate well, participating in some karaoke for our evening entertainment, slept under mosquito nets at night, and enjoyed the simplicity of just being on the farm including feeding the chickens before morning coffee.
Did I state that we ate well? That's is something definitely true in the Philippines. You shouldn't go hungry. In general we Filipinos love to gather, offer our hospitality, and EAT! There was rice (that's a given), pork, beef, fish, chicken, fruits, vegetables, bread, desserts. It was definitely a feast. Just when I thought we were done, another dish or two would be added to the table. The key to eating here is to add small portions so that you can taste a little of everything which is and will be served!
Of course we had fresh vegetables grown just a few feet away from the nipa hut in a shaded greenhouse-type tent which was built. This helped the more delicate vegetables and greens protected by the heat of the direct sunlight, as well as the occasional high winds. There are plans to build additional greenhouses in the future, as they area separate from other areas where corn and other crops are planted. We had fresh mangoes and coconuts from trees on the property as well. At home I enjoy gardening; however, I do wish that we had those types of trees at home. The fresh coconut water on a hot summer day was delicious!
It was definitely a change from our normal life, and it was good to see that even our teenage son enjoyed the experience and took it all in.