BY PATRICIA BIANCA S. TACULAO

As people age, they start to plan about how they want to spend the rest of their years outside of the workforce. Many people consider farming as a retirement plan because they can relax and stay productive at the same time by tending to their crops or livestock. 

Racquelita and Romeo Rabino, a retired bank manager and seaman, respectively, are among those who wanted to fulfill the Filipino dream of farming after retirement. 

“It was in 1991 when we relocated to Bataan because of my work in the bank. There, we experienced living in the countryside where we got to mingle with farmers and fisherfolk,” the retired bank manager said.

Raquelita and Romeo Rabino grows a variety of fruit trees on their farm.

Spending time with farmers and fisherfolk encouraged her and her husband to go into agriculture, which they eventually did. 

Fulfilling their vision for the farm

Now retired, the Rabinos now spend their time happily tending to their farm in Bataan. They named it Rabino Family Farm because it serves a different purpose besides being their retirement plan. 

Rabino Family Farm is a combined 2.5-hectare property that the couple acquired in 2002. But because of their busy careers, and later business ventures, they rarely had the time to farm, prompting them to plant fruit-bearing trees like mangoes in the beginning.

Romeo Rabino posing with a papaya tree growing on the farm.

“But since we envisioned the farm to be our retirement home, and we both enjoy farming, we later started planting more fruit-bearing trees and ornamentals, and also added… vermiculture for our natural fertilizers, provided our hydraulic deep well for our water source, and housing for our chickens,” the Rabinos said. 

Farming inspired the couple to think beyond themselves and to consider their children and other people. Their family farm serves as an example of several natural farming practices that they believe should be followed by more people to promote self-sufficiency.

As the couple became more invested in farming, they started learning the basics of growing produce and raising poultry by attending seminars and training conducted by the Department of Agriculture, University of the Philippines Los Baños, and Villar Sipag Farm School.

Before intensfying their farming endeavors, the couple attended seminars, workshops, and training to learn the basics of farming.

They also joined several farm tours so they can get more insights into actual farm practices. 

Growing and earning from their produce 

Out of the 2.5 hectares of land, one hectare is dedicated to dwarf coconuts intercropped with saba bananas. The remaining area serves as the couple’s fruit forest where they grow mangoes, atis, cherimoya, anonas, pomegranate, and many more.

Herbs are also among the crops that the couple grows.

They also grow vanilla plants, curry plants, kaffir lime, insulin, plant, root beer plant, acai berries, and Surinam cherries. 

Since they mostly grow fruit-bearing trees, the Rabinos have developed scheduled protocols to secure the proper growth of their trees even though these don’t require as much maintenance. 

“We regularly use our natural concoctions such as FPJ, FFJ, FAA, OHN, and our vermicasts. But we also apply some commercial products, as needed,” the couple said. 

They also have on-call farmhands who assist the couple with some farm activities like the routine application of fertilizers, fungicides, and pesticides. 

By securing their farm’s production and the quality of their produce, the Rabinos earn an income from their fruit trees and ornamentals. They also recently ventured into value-adding, creating products like insulin tea for diabetics and dried oregano to cure sore throats and cough.

Implementing scheduled protocols allows the couple to properly maintain their fruit-bearing trees.

According to the couple, some of the early challenges that they faced in farming were marketing their products and finding an extra pair of hands to help them on the farm. But as they persevered, they were able to establish buyers in Manila, leverage the power of social media for product awareness, and encourage business-minded individuals to become their resellers. 

Retiring to the farm has been a fulfilling decision for the Rabinos. Through farming, they find joy in harvesting the fruits of their labor, giving them meaning and satisfaction as they continue to stay productive despite retirement. 

Plus, with the pandemic, the farm serves as the couple’s refuge where they have activities to keep them busy, and being close to nature helps improve both their physical and mental well-being. 

For more information, visit Rabino Family Farm on Facebook.

Photos courtesy of Racquelita and Romeo Rabino