IN THE previous fifteen years, the combined efforts of my parents, our Igorot caretaker, William, an agricultural loan and a Fordson tractor, had hardly made a dent in covering the 152 hectares with more vegetation.
There were cashew, coconut, guava and mango trees, but they hardly covered one fourth of our farm. The rest was cogon and talahib grass.
Every summer or the dry months of March, April and May, the grass fires would also consume the small trees.
It was only in the creeks and ravines that there was enough wetness for the trees not to burn and survive long enough to grow tall enough.
As my mother entered her seventies, her working visits to the farm became less frequent. She was diabetic and had had a goiter operation in her fifties.
In her late seventies, she had a heart attack and had a pacemaker installed. She knew that she would die when she was eighty years old. Her eightieth birthday was April 7, 1986.
By then she had had several trips to SLMC Q. C. Usually, she would spend time in the ICU.
On May 12, 1986, she died. Like our father fifteen and a half years earlier, her wake was held at our 1927 ancestral home. Our farm caretaker, William, would sleep at the foot of either of their coffins.
After our mother was gone, our visits to the farm became even less frequent. My wife and I would usually visit in the dry season so that the grass would be shorter and sparse.
We would bring home all sorts of fruits and distribute them to my siblings. We also had carabaos, cattle and goats in both of our farms. We sold our forty hectares farm in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan from 1995 to 1998.
We have been trying to sell our remaining fifty - nine hectares since 2000. In the late nineties, Fil Invest was consolidating a thousand hectares in Pililla. They made an offer which we did not accept because it was for a joint venture rather than a straight purchase.
In 2000, Tet Campos, daughter of Freddie Campos, who had bought our ninety – two hectares in 1973, came forward with the MMDA Sanitary Landfill project which they were bidding for.
In the process of including our remaining 59 hectares in the project, our farm was exempted from DAR coverage.
Tet’s consortium won the bidding and the project was awarded to them by then MMDA both under the Erap and GMA administrations. However, the Supreme Court issued a TRO and the project died a natural death.
Meanwhile, we had minor problems with squatters. We also had boundary disputes with our neighbors.
Twice, in 2005 and 2016, both our Alcuaz and Campos properties were almost auctioned off for failure to pay real estate taxes.
Fortunately, I was with Erap both times. He helped me out with the incumbent governors of Rizal – Mr. and Mrs. Ynares.
Then, in 2015, the windmills came to Pililla. Unlike the windmills of Ilocos Norte and the windmill farms that I have seen in the USA, the Pililla – Tanay windmills are lined up along the first ridge of the Sierra Madre Mountains.
They can be seen from as far as the Antipolo – Teresa Zigzag highway, as well as from the Laguna lakeshore road within Pililla.
We first saw them in March of 2015, when we went with Tet and Jergens Lorenz.
They were working on a solar farm project with the Pangilinan group. Aside from the wind and the sun, there are two high voltage powerlines that pass nearby.
The Caliraya power plant line crosses the Campos property. Less than two kilometers to the west is the Malaya power plant line.
The following year, during the Holy Week of 2016, we brought our Ahorro in - laws to visit the farm.
It was Holy Thursday and both the Sumulong Highway and the Manila East Road were jammed with motorists and cyclists.
We had not realized until then that the trickle of tourists who chose to go to the eastern towns of Laguna via Rizal had mushroomed into a horde that went to Antipolo, Tanay, Pililla and beyond to Laguna and Quezon.
Waze taught us three new short/long cuts (shorter in time but longer in distance!): (1) from the Sumulong Circumferential Road in Antipolo City to the Teresa zigzag; (2) behind the Teresa Municipio; and (3) a dirt road before the Morong junction going to Baras.
Traffic was heavy along all the towns we passed: Teresa and Morong on the Morong Peninsula and Baras, Tanay and Pilillka along the eastern shore of Laguna da Bay.
From Quezon City, along Marcos and Sumulong Highways, there were almost as many bicyclists as motorcyclists.
However, as we drove farther, the ratio of bicycles compared to motorcycles went down. All the more, when we took the left fork a few kilometers after the Pililla town hall at the Barangay Halayhayin Hall.
Going straight would have taken us thru Barangays Quisao and Malaya and then the town of Jala Jala, around the tip of the Jala-Jala Peninsula to Mabitac, Laguna by a much longer coastal highway. (To be continued via Tanay on the way back)