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[DETOURS] I left the city life to start living life

‘Gratitude is just one of the things living a simpler life has taught us well’

2/25/2021 3:00:00 AM

Can you imagine moving out of the city to live a simpler life in the province? Detours

‘Gratitude is just one of the things living a simpler life has taught us well’

Jaime LontocEditor’s note: Jaime Lontoc was a radio announcer turned HR manager in Manila, vacationing with his family when he has the time. One day, he decided that weekends away from the city aren’t enough. He uprooted his family and started living a simple life as bamboo farmers in Lian, Batangas. Get to know his story. You, too, can share your life’s greatest detours.

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Here’s how.Sometime in 2014, my family and I moved permanently to Batangas. It has been the best thing that happened to us, so far. The adjustments weren't as difficult as imagined. Nature's beauty has a way of fixing all things.We live in a little house, perched on a hill overlooking Talim Bay in Lian. Our closest neighbors are about 150 meters away. There are just two small families within that range. Everybody else from the neighborhood is a bit further away. It's a neighborhood that consists of well-off families, scattered along the shoreline, and of the permanent residents, who comprise the bigger share of the Matuod population, but whose modest homes are barely visible around the grandness of the rest houses of the Manila folk. It's a typical Philippine setup, but one within a most blessed natural wonder. We are so fortunate to be here, and not a day goes by that we don't count our blessings.

Gratitude is just one of the things living a simpler life has taught us well. It's easy to be thankful about anything when you aren't distracted by the rat race. It has been key to living a happier life. We now have room to savor how precious family time is.

When the experience enlightens you, everything else matters little. You evolve. I'm speaking as a parent, though. I suspect that my two children are just as happy. I know I would be if I was a kid who lived by the beach, with parents who are there for them all the time. They look very happy. But perhaps, they haven't reflected on our circumstances the way my wife and I had. Theirs might be more of just enjoying the moment.

I've never had this much time to reflect on life as I do now. The serenity and isolation have made it possible. We had shifted from conventional schooling for our children to homeschooling, not as a matter of convenience, but one we had the privilege of thinking about carefully. I'm not saying it's the better way, but it is for us. After weighing all the pros and cons, it boils down to being hands-on. Just like almost everything else these days.

We had given up employing household help, and the chores are all done by the four of us. We don't find it pitiful that our children are not served. In fact, we feel we are equipping them with the handiest of tools, and breeding them not to be self-entitled. But we do employ a couple of workers to help tend the garden and farm.

As bamboo farmers, our income is very basic, but it's enough for the lifestyle we live. It has the potential to become a good business, and we've spent quite a lot of time and money on research and development in using bamboo to make things, but that side of the business has yet to take off. I'd be lying if I said we haven't had our fair share of financial lows. But believe it or not, the beautiful view we have cushioned all the hardship.

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Bamboo was our choice because of its environmental impact. That's another thing we've had the luxury to reflect on; the environment, and how every bit of help it gets is very important. It has become a part of who we are. Our children are passionate about their sea turtle rescues and beach clean-ups. They are true protectors of the environment.

But that's not all they are. They are equally impassioned about helping those in need, and social justice in general. They are very happy to spend their time getting involved in socio-civic activities. They are happy to help out their friends and their families.

These are just some of the things turning to a life of simplicity has molded us to be. We are happy about the results, and it continues to take shape. The more it brings us happiness, the more we seek out simplicity. The more things get simplified, the easier it became to make us happy.

The cycle just keeps feeding itself. I don't imagine it will be like this forever. I'm just so glad that, at this point in my life (I'm 54 years old), I get to enjoy this period of bringing up my kids, more than it might have been if I continued on with city life. And again, I thank my lucky stars that this is where we are with the pandemic going on. Isolation is nothing new to us, and our little bubble – as safe as it gets – isn't much different from those better times in our world's history. And, the view...ahh, the view; staring at it is never time wasted.

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