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From homemaker to farmer.

Under the heat of the sun, I was trying to find the words to explain to her the reason behind my decision to quit my job. I was never the type to consult my parents about my plans and would always opt to be independent. Then, after the deed is done, I stammer to explain my choices. We millennials want to make it seem as if we don't care, but deep inside we do.

ing with 'I just want to figure out what I really want, something I can be passionate about,' I expected a long nagging rebuttal. All I got was a nod and some words of wisdom. She encouraged me to try out as many options as I wanted.

'Maswerte kayo ngayon kasi may choices kayo, pero dati kami wala. Hindi ko naman magawa yung gusto ko noon kasi ako yung panganay sa amin (You're lucky because now you have the luxury of choosing what you want. It was not the same for me since I was the eldest in the family),' she said.

I knew the story well. My dad made sure that we knew the sacrifices he and my mom did for us.

Annette Patdu, aka my mom, wanted to be a farmer. But, by profession, both my parents were engineers, which during their time was like taking up nursing for us. They got married when my mom was 24, and during the early years of our childhood, both my parents worked. We were five in the family, four girls and one boy.

I don't remember the exact date or when I realized it, but soon after, my mom stopped working and was always around the house. Dad explained that my mom would stay at home to make sure we studied well and did not get into trouble.

It might have had to do with the embarrassment of having all your five kids bring home a bunch of failing report cards, the headache that came after realizing your girls had been giving each other black eyes and bald spots, or of your only boy coming home late at night and waking up to find his window shattered by gangsters throwing rocks.

Soon after, my mom's adjustment began. From cooking delicious food to forcing us to do household chores, my mom was a natural homemaker.

I remember the time when my parents decided that my mom would start driving us to and fetching us from school. It was cheaper, since all of us were studying in the same school. Like guinea pigs, we would hold on for dear life as mom drove. We encountered minor car accidents here and there.

Shamefully, I remember how we all hid in the back of the car after my mom hit someone's car in school, not bothering to help her out. We got a good scolding from my dad after: 'Hindi ba kayo nahiya sa nanay niyo? Mga sakripisyong binigay niya sa inyo (Weren't you ashamed of how you treated your mom? All the sacrifices she did for you).'

My mom recounted many years afterward how she dreaded weekday afternoons, because she knew that when the clock struck 4 p.m., she would have to drive and pick us up from school.

My dad is a hero in his own right - another story for another day. His job was always so hectic back then that he would come home late at night, around 11-11:30 p.m. almost every day.

With my face a few millimeters away from the computer, mom would cry out: 'Matagal ka pa ba? Matulog ka na (How long will you stay up? Go to bed now)!'

Seeing that I wouldn't budge, she'd add, 'Kung magtatagal ka pa, pagbuksan mo ng pinto si dad tapos gisingin mo ako pagdating niya ha (If you're staying up, open the door for your dad when he arrives and wake me up).'

Most of the time, I'd already be sleeping when my dad came, but my mom always got up and joined him for late dinner, listening to his stories at work. Since this was the natural course of things in our house, I never really gave this routine much thought.

That is, until one afternoon when I chatted with my mom as she was reading the newspaper.

'Kailangan akong maging updated sa mga balita para maka-relate ako sa dad mo. Hindi yung puro chismis lang (I need to update myself with the news so that I can better relate with your dad, and not just engage in gossip).'

That became my definition of a relationship - putting the effort to make things work, especially the little details.

Soon, we all graduated from college and, little by little, we left home. My mom now had time on her hands.

Dad, as ambitious as ever, asked her if she thought it would be a good idea to venture into farming, their childhood dream. Skeptical but supportive as ever, my mom agreed.

They worked hard and gradually developed a farm in Sta. Barbara, Bacolor, Pampanga, an area among the hardest hit by the 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption.

Eventually, my mom decided to stay at the farm full-time to oversee its development, while my dad traveled back and forth from Manila to Pampanga for work reasons.

Years and years of hard work finally paid off. My mom was a natural farm manager. Diaspora - that's the name of our farm resort - became one of the first farm tourism training centers in Pampanga, applying a fruit-based and livestock integrated farming system.

My mom finally fulfilled her dream of becoming a farmer and an educator, giving Tesda- and ATI- accredited training seminars to aspiring agripreneurs.

She also heads the Central Luzon Farm Tourism Association Inc., and recently got a scholarship to attend the Agribusiness Executives' Program of the University of Asia and the Pacific.

Of course, when you ask her about her greatest accomplishment, she probably won't tell you those titles. Instead, she'll say that she's a proud mother of a UN Environment Programme consultant, a doctor, a researcher, an IT programmer, and a management trainee.

By the way, my mom is also an ace driver, even better than my dad. Sorry, Dad.
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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Nov 4, 2018
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