(Michaela is a writer for the STAR’s Features section. When she’s not beating deadlines, she’s in her small succulent garden, sipping coffee while dancing to classic jazz.)
“What you decide to do should be significant. Touch lives and make it meaningful.”
Robert “Bobby” Lim Joseph, the epitome of a multi-hyphenate man, remains true to his word at 69. Although he’s been battling cancer for a decade now and is already nine years past the retirement age, his visions are vivid, not only for the wine, airline and tourism industries, but also for his advocacies.
Joseph recently opened up about a project close to his heart — the Paraiso Village Farm in San Jose, Batangas.
For two years now, the 6.5-hectare eco-farm resort has been promoting sustainability, uplifting farmers, and building unity among the stakeholders.
The model of the village farm has been working. In Paraiso, landowners and investors are only allowed to build on 20 percent of their lots while the remaining 80 percent is cultivated for agriculture purposes. The farm caretakers may plant coffee, fruit-bearing trees, herbs, vegetables and crops with the capital from the landowners.
While it seems too good to be true, apart from home accommodation, monthly compensation and benefits, they also enjoy 30 percent of the total produce. And since Bobby and his wife Ida strongly believe that education is a tool that will provide a brighter future, they also sponsor the education of the farmers’ children in Paraiso until college.
FARM, FAITH, FOOD AND FUN
Although Bobby Joseph wears many hats, his heart and mind have a special spot for his advocacies, especially for Paraiso.
After the death of his son, Richard, who was an active volunteer at Gawad Kalinga (GK) since his high school years, the Joseph family decided to pour their passion to help the people. Because of this and his friendship with GK founder Tony Meloto, he saw the village farm as one of the instruments to honor his son and an avenue to continue his advocacy.
One of the Joseph family’s biggest gifts to Paraiso is a beautiful modern-minimalist chapel, which blends effortlessly with the serene rural setting.
They are constantly working on the improvement of the village farm to truly make it a little paradise on earth for all — the farmers, families, group of friends, or individuals who want to stay inspired and grounded.
Currently, air-conditioned rooms are open to lodge visitors after a productive and heartening day with Paraiso farmers. Joseph also shares that soon, families may dip into a pool, watch their kids have fun on a short zip line, or interact with farm animals in a mini zoo. They are also eyeing to open a multipurpose hall where larger groups can hold values-oriented events.
Taking sustainability to heart, they also want visitors to dine and try the fresh and organic produce of farmers. They are working on partnering with like-minded poultries and piggeries that would complement their offerings.
They are welcome to work hand in hand with other organizations and groups who want to exchange ideas on how to uplift farmers and make Paraiso more effective and sustainable.
The village farm has been successful in carrying its mission for the past two years. Hoping for a domino effect, they are encouraging Paraiso farmers to share their knowledge with other farmers and nearby communities who want to venture into the same enterprise. They are also willing to share its model with other groups who want to empower other communities in the Philippines.
“The beauty of Paraiso Village Farm is it not just about the farm. Here, you may immerse and have a life-changing experience,” Joseph caps.