Starting on a weekend

CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - January 1, 2021 - 12:00am

After an entire year of pain, loss and misery in 2020, I feel good that the New Year comes in on a weekend, which we usually relate to rest. This way we won’t be all rushing into Metro Manila or to work, like runners charging forward at the sound of the gun. If by chance you have the itch to drive, then try the new Skyway extension because a couple of motoring journalists have been singing Hallelujahs after being able to drive from Balintawak to Sucat in 20 minutes at only 80 KPH!!! That’s certainly a good way to start the year. Unlike previous years, my wife Karen insisted that we don’t go home until the last day of the holidays because there won’t be anything “New” to go back to, just a “New Year.” That unfortunately is the sobering reality for the beginning of 2021 and while we are all hoping that the “bad luck” and wicked mojo of 2020 would all be gone, COVID-19 will remain a reality in the Philippines and the world until we all get the full two doses of whatever COVID-19 vaccine is distributed by the Philippine government and not from an influence peddling Mainland Chinese national pretending to be Filipino.

Moving on, I think 2021 will be “The Year of Intentionality” when we soberly become intentional about things we plan to get into. The folly of the past years where we made plans under the impression that we are the masters of our destiny, all died alongside friends, family and businesses that perished during the pandemic. Every trial or tribulation felt like a boxing round inside the ring but on a monthly basis. Every time you got hit hard, it woke you up to life’s realities, your stupidities and mortality. Every round forced you to admit your weakness or mistake and forced you to think smart and fight smart. Last year was certainly like a boat ride in unending storms and where we continually threw stuff overboard or got rid of unnecessary baggage collected over the years, to keep us from sinking.

I for one have decided to abandon mistaken notions of turning hobbies into businesses or having your cake and eating it too. You either enjoy your hobby or work hard at your business, especially a backyard farm. At the very last week of the last month of 2020, we received confirmatory laboratory results that our small herd of pigs had been possessed not by a legion of demons but by a legion of ASF virus. As I write this article I have already coordinated with Undersecretary Willie Medrano of the Department of Agriculture on the disposal of 30 heads, both sows and piglets, to prevent the ASF legion from hell from transferring to other farms or pigs in the area. We have actually lost twice that in piglets alone but because the disease manifested differently in our farm, three veterinarians could not conclusively say what disease we were dealing with until Dec. 30 when someone sent the unofficial “bad news” via text.

Believe it or not, we still managed to see good in all of this and thank God for the sign. Yes, it was the needed sign to stop and put our backyard farm in order. We either make it an honest to goodness rest house or we press the re-start button and run it right, market the produce right and make it profitable instead of a bottomless money pit playing real life “Farmville.” Due to containment protocols, we have anywhere between two months to six months to decide if we’re ever going to restock and restart the piggery. Such a mental and financial trauma can be liberating in some ways because after dealing with the necessary closure of the piggery, we found ourselves wondering about shifting to poultry raising. By this time we were no longer wearing rose tinted glasses and once we were done with the numbers and statistics and requirements, we came to the conclusion that at best we could raise ONLY a few heads of “organic chickens” for our family requirements but no more. We will carry on with the few fruit trees and plants but as far as livestock is concerned, I think this Sabungero who never goes to the sabungan will just raise pet roosters!

When you think about it, what the devil meant for evil, the loss of all our pigs, has actually turned into a sobering realization that when we bought our first pig, it was meant as a pet for our daughter Hannah who watched the movie “Babe” and asked for a pet pig. My mistake was my desire to “maximize” the benefit and breeding the pet pig into a herd of pigs that ultimately ended up in a big hole on the ground instead of the sea just like in the Bible! Wanting more or trying to turn fun into profit may sound so ideal, but don’t be fooled. Any thing with life entails responsibility. Multiples and Multiplication multiplies the inputs and burdens. We took pleasure in tasting the many lechon baboy damo or regular lechon – yes we slaughtered a number for family consumption – but in the end God confronted us with the undeniable fact that our backyard farm was effectively a non-profit facility.

Starting the New Year with eyes open and fantasies discharged is a good start. Being intentional also requires us to go slow or take our time. Then there is the all-important question to guide us: Is this supposed to be fun or is it supposed to be work? If you’re not sure about the answer or you know you’re trying to convince yourself, Walk Away!

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E-mail: utalk2ctalk@gmail.com

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