THEY were both corporate people. These sisters were in economics, law practice and business. They did real estate for many years and also were in politics having been born to a politician father and a “first lady” of a mother. We would hang out after school in their house in La Vista and our sorority sisters were all part of the family.
That must have been almost 40 years ago. Today, we see two gentlewomen farmers who are into organic farming—rice, fruits, free range chickens, organic pig raising and even commercial scale dragon fruit.
From their forays into horticulture (orchids) and on to planting guyabano among other popular fruits, I cannot believe these are the same sisters who used to talk about business in the corporate setting and travels to New York among other international destinations.
Rose and Rose as we call them, are actually Rosita and Rose—both confusingly called Rose Alberto. If you get close to them as we are, one is Nene and the younger is Baba.
Nene never entered politics but has always been a woman leader. She can lead a corporation as she can also lead farmhands with her plans to make their property an eco-tourism or agri-tourism site where dragon fruits and other fruit trees like sampaloc (tamarind), dalandan and pomelo fruits abound.
Baba is a lawyer but has since also embraced education as an advocacy. She sits in the Board of Waldorf School in Quezon City and is very much involved in the concerns of the Rudolf Steiner educational system. But on weekends, she rolls up her sleeves and attends to her poultry, piggery or rice projects.
The sisters are farmer leaders. They both sport sun-kissed complexions and are ever active in managing their organic farm project. What they soon want to do is to invite more students into their farm. The Waldorf kids already do their Gardening subjects at the Paradise Farms, which is what they call this paradise in Malvar, Batangas.
And a paradise it truly is. I asked Baba if they were self-sustaining and she said, “If any war or trouble broke out in the city, we would be self-sufficient with food here at the farm,” she proudly says. And this is the real measure of sustainability. Being able to grow your own food and having business on the side as well. Baba brings her rpoduce to SIDDCOR market in Quezon City on Sundays, so this provides extra cash for the payroll of their farm employees.
Nene , on the other hand, is the “hands on” manager who is plotting her next banana or guyabano section. She also supervises the design of the land, using her real estate background of subdividing large tracts of land. “We want this to be a fruit orchard of a different kind,” she says. The sisters want to plant every tropical fruit variety so children may learn to appreciate Nature’s bounty and be able to identify indigenous treasures like heirloom guava, heirloom tamarind or sampalok, and other fruits whose modern varieties sad to say are already GMO or genetically modified. Many modern fruit plantations plant imported seeds to grow fruits that are bigger, sweeter, and not the way we used to eat them in the province when we had vacations.
Are they retired? Not at all. This is a great way to spend the second part of their lives I believe. To live in a farm, to partake of its bounty and to have friends over (like us)who will validate that they made a great decision of growing their own food whilst being able to feed many more.
It’s never too late for corporate people to choose the farming route towards another chapter in one’s life. Look at these two active sisters. They farm but they are also in business. They grow their food while they are still in pursuit of an even loftier goal: to teach the children.
And that is what we need today. For children to learn where food comes from.So that they will respect farming as an important career choice. And maybe learn a thing or two that fruit juice comes from fruits and fruits come from trees. Not from a box or a can.
Hats off to these two ladies who are living a sustainable life while being an inspiration to many who have yet to take that plunge to go into the other world of agriculture.
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Chit Juan is the Founder and President of ECHOstore Sustainable Lifestyle located in Serendra , Podium,Centris, Davao City, Makati and Cebu .She is the President of Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and the Philippine Coffee Board Inc. She often speaks to corporates, academe and entrepreneurs about her advocacies: Social Enterprise, Women Empowerment and Coffee. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on Twitter@Chitjuan, Instagram: CHITJUAN or Linked In: Pacita Juan.