Tricia Bravante and Bella Manlulo: The Beekeepers and Durian Growers

When my mom passed away from cancer in 2015, that became my wake-up call to appreciate things more — That life is short and you have to make it worthwhile. We are blessed na habang bata pa kami nakapagtanim na si Nanay (Nora) at Tatay (Lito) ng mga fruit-bearing trees at nakapundar sila ng lupa na pwede naming i-develop. Pag dating sa age pewde bang secret nalang? Kidding aside, 27 years old ako nung nagstart magfarming. Dito ko narealize na green thumb pala ako, na walang maaga at walang late magsimula sa pagtanim, basta may puso ka dito at gusto mo ginagawa mo.

I’ve been working in the world of Advertising for the past 9 years, it came to a point wherein I just wanted out. The constant demands and long hours had taken a toll on me, leading to creative burnout and a sense of dissatisfaction. I wanted to do something that had more meaning and not just sell. For the most part, I just knew I wasn’t happy anymore.

I can still remember the time na sinasabii ko sa friends ko, “Ayoko na! Magtatanim nalang talaga ako. Magtatayo ako ng farm ko at di magiging komplikado yung buhay.”

I wanted a simpler life, closer to nature. I realized I didn't need much to feel content.

So at 28, I quit work and gave myself a year to find what’s worth doing in life.

During that time my parents acquired a small farm in Tanauan, Batangas and it was around that same time that I also met Tricia. We connected over the same interests, a thirst for life’s adventures, and, most importantly, a shared passion for farming.

It was during these moments that we came to realize na yung pag-cross ng paths namin is more than just about ourselves/ finding love in each other, BUT... it was about finding a deeper purpose in life, a shared love for farming, a connection to nature/Mother Earth, and finding our true calling for agriculture.

So, here we are, leaving the chaos in the city behind and embracing a life where we can work, live at a steady pace, and find joy in simple things. It's not just a career or lifestyle change — it's about living a life that feels right.

Our Trials and Triumphs

Nung nagsisimula pa lang kami magdevelop ng stingless bee farm, siyempre kung anong natutunan namin sa isang seminar, i-napply na namin agad without knowing di pala applicable yung technique na tinuro samin for our farm set-up. Some of the biggest mistakes we made were wala kaming bee pasture, kulang pa yung fruit bearing trees and proper management of stingless bees o lukot kung tawagin.

What we learned is that dapat you always seek from professionals sa proper management ng stingless bees. Hindi lahat ng na-aacquire mong new knowledge ay applicable. Maganda pa rin kung madami kang ma-
aattendan na seminar, further research, maginteract/connect sa kapwa farmers para madami kang new learnings tapos saka mo didiskartehan what works best for your farm.

Kami noon, halos kalahati ng bee colonies namin nagcollapse due to poor management but we didn’t stop there. Nagkamali kami sa management and set up ng stingless bee, pero nung nalaman na namin yung mga mali namin, dahan-dahan naming inayos ‘to, and up to now working progress padin. Everyday naman is a learning experience. Nasa tao nalang kung pano niya
titingnan ‘to.

Advice to Young Farmers

As farmers, kapag may mga setbacks na nangyayari, huwag ka dapat mapanghinaan ng loob. Always look at the positive side. Try looking at things
as a learning opportunity. What we usually ask ourselves pag may mga problem kaming naeencounter ay -Bat nangyari to? Anong mali? and What is this teaching us? Then we work on our next steps para next time maayos na
at di na mauulit.

Siguro ang masi-share namin sa mga young farmers na lesson/s or what we can advice them is huwag matakot magsimula at magkamali, kasi through mistakes tayo natututo at hindi makakalimutan yung experience. There’s no perfect time to begin, so start now. Cherish every moment na nangyayari sa farm niyo, After all, it’s all about enjoying the progress and celebrating the small wins. In a world obsessed with social media, it's important not to compare your journey with others. Your achievements don't require external validation -if you know your goals and achievements, sapat na yon. Lastly, farming demands exceptional patience, as everything unfolds in its own time.

Vision of the Future

Lahat naman po ng farmers gusto ma-appreciate yung hardwork nila. Samin po as young farmers, gusto lang namin i-share yung expereinces namin, maapreciate yung love namin sa nature, with the hope of inspiring others. Educating young and aspiring farmers is a priority for us, na ma-emphasize namin yung importance of agriculture.

Sa panahon kasi ngayon, nawawala na yung sense of nationalism satin, yung pagmamahal sa sariling atin. One of our primary goals is to highlight the significance of native stingless bees and native trees, advocating for the love
and preservation of our indigenous resources – promoting the idea of mahalin ang sariling atin. Sana mabalik yung pride in what belongs to us as a nation. Visitors to our farm should leave with lasting impressions, fostering a newfound appreciation for our environment and sana this can be a headstart for them.

We’re aiming to be recognized as a farm producing 100% pure stingless bee honey and quality fruits that are free from chemicals. We also envision expanding our farm while continuing the legacy of our families.

Sa future ng agriculture, since the younger generation is more woke/ more socially conscious - we’re certain that more of them would value farming more. Sana po dumami pa ang mga young farmers because they represent the
hope of our country. Sana mawala na yung misconception na “farmer lang kasi ako.”We want to break the stereotype that being "just a farmer" is less important, na dapat maging proud lahat ng farmers kasi sila ang backbone
ng isang bansa. Kapag marunong magmahal ang young farmer sa sariling atin, hinding hindi mawawala ang gawang Piinoy. We hope the Philippine agriculture will be able to get back on its feet reclaiming its role as a leader that once shared best practices, educating other nations in the agricultural sector.