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An Idyllic Life

One of the very first drawings — if you can call it that — I made as a young student was that of an idyllic farm scene. In addition to basic drawings of fruits, vegetables and animals, I would draw a nipa hut with a coconut tree beside it and a perfectly shaped mountain on the background with a smiling sun just about to rise behind it and a farm on the foreground. This was our idealized version of a provincial life.


Then later on in life, my first exposure to Philippine art was through the works of Fernando Amorsolo who, even as a child, drew and sketched the rural landscape of Daet, Camarines Norte where he grew up in. Even old Filipino films that I watched as a kid almost always featured the idyllic farm life where husband and wife would share a meal under the shade of a tree while taking a break from farming and the afternoon heat.

While going to Manila and earning money became the dream of many probinsyanos and probinsyanas, the dream of retiring in a simple, rural and farm life remained for many people especially city folks who became tired of the concrete jungle that was — and is — Metro Manila.

This concrete jungle was the only world I knew when I was growing up in Tondo. This was the reason why I was shocked when I first set foot in the Diliman campus of the University of the Philippines. Imagine a young provincial lad in awe of the sights and sounds of Metro Manila — I was the exact opposite. I was a young college student who was used to the buildings of Manila in awe of the greeneries of UP. I was so naive I really thought it was paradise. 

Today, we have a paradise in progress just a few minutes from where we currently live. We envision the 170-hectare Villar Farm as our future retirement paradise. Slowly but surely, we are building our dream farm. My wife Cynthia has started the first Villar SIPAG Farm School which opened in September 2015 and located in a four-hectare lot within the boundary of Las Piñas City and Bacoor City beside the historic Molino Dam. This farm school was designed to make our farmers and fisherfolk competitive and profitable through training programs that will help them produce more and earn more with the help of modern technology.


More recently we put up the Villar Children’s Farm. We wanted to have a place with plenty of spaces and greens, and animals that can be enjoyed not just by our family but by families living in the concrete jungle that is the National Capital Region. Here children can feed the cows, goats, and the horses, visit the birds, play in the playground, enjoy the zipline, and have your dogs and pets run around the pet playground.

There is nothing more joyous than seeing kids smile, laugh and shout as they feed farm animals and enjoy nature. My three apos always visit our farm and Tristan in particular is always ecstatic when he sees and feeds farm animals. We need to raise children who will not be trapped in their rooms playing games in their phones or computers. We need to provide our children and grandchildren the opportunity to experience, enjoy and interact with nature. Their world cannot be limited to the house, schools and malls. 

We also have around 50 carabaos that are being raised for their fresh milk and other dairy delights. I have tried it and I tell you it was the  creamiest kesong puti I have ever eaten. We are doing this as part of our commitment to support local farmers and promoting sustainable agriculture. We aim to make this an integrated and zero-waste farm where we raise farm animals, grow vegetables and make our own organic fertilizer. 

We are both the master of our world and its custodians. Environmental stewardship requires us not only to protect and sustain our environment for future generations but also shape their lives that allows them to live it fully and productively.




Manila Bulletin/Views/MannyVillar