Theodoro Bello Lactao Jr., or Junjun, has always wanted to be a pilot. For him, nothing could beat the adrenaline rush that comes with flying over towns and provinces to bring people to where they want to be. But this dream never flew, and instead, he decided to stay in Isabela when his father suffered a stroke. Together with his wife and their two kids, Junjun went home to tend to his ailing father and take care of their farm. Life was difficult then, he says, as the family fell deep into debt and the farm was unable to yield profitable crops due to typhoons and damaged soil.
It might have been through sheer luck that his mother attended a workshop on organic farming in that same period. From here, the mother-son tandem started exploring organic and sustainable practices in farming.
“In the past, I wanted to fly a passenger plane to get to different places. Now, my dream is to fly an agricultural aircraft to spray not chemical – but organic – fertiliser on my farm and on different farms all over the Philippines.”
Fast forward to 2016, the farm has grown considerably in terms of production. It uses organic fertiliser to cultivate napier plants and fruit trees, and Junjun has branched out to cattle-raising. Then there’s the milk that his cows produce—processed by the Isabela-based Malaya Development Cooperative (MDC) that consolidates and processes cow’s milk into flavoured milk and yogurt as the core of its dairy business. He believes that selling products to MDC was the turning point of his farming business. His debts have gradually cleared, and the sales of napier and cow’s milk grew steadily, and these developments led him to advocate for organic farming, with plans to expand to aquaculture.
His dream of flying has also evolved. “In the past, I wanted to fly a passenger plane to get to different places. Now, my dream is to fly an agricultural aircraft to spray not chemical – but organic – fertiliser on my farm and on different farms all over the Philippines.”