MANILA, Philippines — Ces Drilon is loving life, probinsya-style!
The veteran journalist recently shared how she has found happiness and healing by devoting a large portion of her days in Batangas to do organic farming.
It was in 2015, when she retired from being a reporter, that she discovered her current passion. She started with planting malunggay trees now numbering to over 4,000. This pandemic, amid major life changes in her personal life and career, she had the undivided focus to pursue it.
That’s why it was “perfect timing” for Ces when she was asked to co-anchor with Rep. Alfred de los Santos of Ang Probinsyano Party-list the radio program Basta Promdi, Lodi. The show airs weekdays, from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., on RMN-DZXL 558, with live streaming on RMN’s official Facebook page.
Designed as a public service program, Basta Promdi, Lodi aims to help address pressing concerns and highlight developments in different provinces with such segments as Promdi Patrol for reports by local correspondents, Promdi Lodi for spotlight on outstanding probinsyanos, and Promdi Aksyon for solutions to complaints, among others. The show officially marks her return to AM radio.
In a recent virtual roundtable interview, she shared how she got into organic farming. Apart from Batangas farm, she’s setting up another where she’s set to build a greenhouse of herbs and flowers and a workshop station for her related interests like making soaps and smudge sticks.
Ces showed her smudge sticks, which are a bundle of herbs, using imported and local materials such as the exquisite elemi oil from Bicol region. She said that making them has been a very spiritual experience for her. “Susunogin mo yung smudge sticks and it’s supposed to remove the negative air around and in you… making it is also very healing for me. May pagka-spiritual. Very spiritual.”
All this, she would say, is “a facet of me that’s always been there but released (during the pandemic) because I had the time on my hands. So, in a way, it was a blessing. I was able to focus because before, you had to rush through the traffic to Quezon City, you did stories, so there was no time.”
Here are more excerpts from her chat with select press:
On how she discovered organic farming:
“I’ve been really loving and going to the province. I started farming in Tanauan, Batangas which is owned by my former partner. I’m looking for a farm right now, a small farm that’s really manageable. Actually, I’m going to inspect one in Cavite.
“In 2015, when we started the farm in Tanauan, I zeroed in on malunggay because I didn’t know anything about farming, for one. And I was thinking malunggay, it’s easy to maintain. And I think that my faith in malunggay was right because I use it in my soap. I make dog soap and human soap. Malunggay is a superfood that you take not just orally, but also for the skin. I also do some natural perfumery so I want to have a greenhouse for herbs.
“I started (planting) here in my home, I have so much herbs. I am always so fascinated and fulfilled when I just cut the vegetables and the herbs right before my meal. It’s like an extension of my small urban garden.”
On why she accepted the radio program:
“What I really like is to harness the curative properties of our endemic plants. By accident, actually, I got into soap-making because I was retrenched (from ABS-CBN), I had time on my hands. Although, when I retired as a reporter way back in 2015, we started planting malunggay. I was inspired by this farmer, Genara Matsuoka, she hails from Butuan but who’s married to a Japanese and is one of our biggest exporters of malunggay powder to Europe, Japan. So I wanted to be like her.
“But when I retired as a reporter, bumalik naman ako sa ABS-CBN as consultant so I wasn’t able to focus on that. The pandemic kind of gave me that focus. Tamang-tama kasi I go to Batangas, I go outside Metro Manila and I really am exposed now to the farmers, to those who grow food, who process coconut oil. So perfect timing actually that this program came because it’s aligned with what I’m doing.”
On returning to AM radio:
“Now, I’m more comfortable expressing my opinion, what I think. Way back in the ‘90s, I was also a reporter and I was very uncomfortable about expressing what I thought about a certain issue because I would report on it and I made the choice that I’d rather do straight reporting than giving my opinions and views on radio. And radio, you can’t have dead air, you’re just bound to say anything. I was really, really apprehensive way back then because the issues that you had to express your views on, you’d find that you were going to have to make a report on them, and people would know where you stand. It’s hard to remove the objectivity.
“But, I think, this time I’m more at ease. I’m no longer connected with ABS-CBN and I am not covering any beat so I guess that’s the difference. Another is I was able to practice on Kumu, (where) anything goes and that’s how it goes on the radio. So, I think I’m better armed now than when I did radio, my god, 20 years ago or more.”
On her probinsya roots:
“My father grew up in Villasis, Pangasinan and we would always go there as a child. And his father was a farmer. My love for farming really stemmed from the exposure there. Mag-iihaw sila ng manok na gumagala diyan, huhulihin pa.
“(After 2015), I started imagining myself living in a farm. I am looking for a new farm now. But eventually I want to live in a farm, I mean, move out of the city or start spending more days in the farm than in the city.
“(I’m really) a promdi at heart because parang a return to simplicity, going back to nature, those kinds of principles of promdi ang nai-imbibe ko ngayon. Simplicity, getting healed by nature, tapping the resources of what’s around us, natural living.”
On how the provincial life helped her cope with major life changes:
“Everytime I post about the farm, maraming naiinggit kasi nga we’re cooped up in our homes. I guess, I’m lucky to be able to go to a farm where you can hear the birds, crickets, it’s so healing!... You have access to just harvested fruit juice. My dogs can run freely! And it’s really nice to work with your hands. I guess it’s food for the soul. It’s really what we need now, a return to the province. It’s very in tune with the universe, with what people are looking for. I wish I could go there every day. (To relocate to the province for good), that’s my dream.”