Enjoying a carefree life of a typical youngster, Efren Joseph De Guzman, otherwise known as Ej, never saw himself engaged in farming.
That can be surprising indeed, since he hails from a family with very successful farmlands in Compostela Valley Province in Mindanao. Perhaps, it was because the kind of farming he was exposed to was one of arduous conventional methods.
So, instead of spending some free time in the family farms – to learn the rudiments of agriculture – his days back then mainly evolved around school activities and playing basketball.
In high school, at St. Mary’s College in Tagum City, he actualized his dream to become a varsity player. Henceforth, he immersed himself in the joys of traveling with the team to many places to play in various varsity competitions. And along the way, the lessons he treasured the most were the virtues of being a true team player. This he would take to his adulthood.
Ej was born in Quezon City in 1990. At the age of four, the entire family moved to Mindanao to focus on their farming endeavors. It was there he began his schooling until earning his B.S. Aircraft Technology degree at the famed Mindanao Aeronautical Technical School in Davao. Upon graduation from college, he set his sight on pursuing a rewarding career as an aircraft maintenance engineer in Singapore.
While waiting for the approval of his working papers, he visited Bohol where his parents had established a new integrated working farm – Bohol Coco Farm. It was there he took notice of the many trials and tribulations involved in farm operations. Meanwhile, his papers for a working visa in Singapore kept hitting inexplicable snags, which kept him in Bohol longer than intended.
In the interim, from friends back in Davao, he started to hear the buzz on Natural Farming and its innovative technologies. On July 2010, exuding infectious enthusiasm, he convinced his parents to send him to Andry Lim’s Natural Farming Seminar in Davao. And on the following month, armed with newly-acquired knowledge on natural farming, he started to experiment and apply its methods at the Coco Farm.
It is said that at any given arena, neophytes will surely encounter hits and misses. Ej certainly has his share of those to date. But he remains patient and observant; never allowing disappointments to deter his expectancy to come up with effective solutions, A recent challenge to such attitude was when five of his piglets recently suffered from severe diarrhea. With dogged determination, he eventually developed an all-natural cure that is devoid of chemicals. Needless to say, losing those five piglets would have been devastating to his limited finances; worse, providing them with chemically-concocted antibiotics would have ruined the entire concept of naturally-raised livestock.
Consequently, Ej’s affable personality and zest for continued learning won the attention of notable stalwarts in the Natural Farming industry. Besides Gil Carandang and Andry Lim, Ej also attracted the support of Jojie Gamboa, wife of Andry Lim, who introduced him to Warren Tan. And with both Gil Carandang and Andry Lim fast approaching retirement, Jojie Gamboa sees both Warren Tan and Ej as the next lead proponents of the Natural Farming industry.
At present, Ej at age 22, had assumed the tasks of being Coco Farm’s general manager; overlooking every aspect of its operations – from the all-natural raising of livestock and free-range chickens to the production of pesticide-free vegetables and fruits. In addition, Warren Tan immediately noticed his being a true team player and thus, took him on as his protégé; assigning him in the Farm Management side of his business, which is designing and building natural farm projects.
Moreover, Ej has been conducting one-day Awareness Seminar on Natural Farming. This coming weekend, in tandem with Warren Tan, they will present a 3-day Next Level Seminar on Natural Farming at Coco Farm. Its highlight will be the introduction of a breakthrough technology in hog raising,
As for the call he was waiting for from Singapore Airlines, it finally came but Ej was already much too entrenched in the challenges of natural farming. For now, he has to put this opportunity on the back burner, so to speak, though much to the apprehension of his parents. They really wanted him to make use of what he learned in college for at least a few years. However, they have become impressed and proud of his growing accomplishments in natural farming, and are now ardent supporters of his surprising shift in career path.
Ej envisions in the future a totally safe, nutritious and life-supporting food supply for all. He also strives to be of significant influence to the country’s youth – for them to gain as much knowledge about the health benefits of natural farming and apply its methods even in their backyard gardens.
And these ambitions, as always, shall be guided by the light of his motto: “I don’t want to be a man of success, but a man of value and worth.”
|Ej with Warren Tan (in red shirt) at Coco Farm|
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