January 03, 2017

Why I Decided To Move My Family and Live the Island Life


Every week, Preen tackles motherhood sans the rose-tinted glasses. Our columnists L. JulianoMarla DarwinMonica Eleazar-Manzano, and Rossana Unson tell their personal experiences like it is—at times frustrating, oftentimes confusing, but always enlightening.

As we bid farewell to 2016, I cannot look forward enough to what’s in store for me and my growing family in early 2017. We are leaving the urban jungle for paradise (once again!).

Destination: El Nido, Palawan.

Do I even need to explain why? Palawan has been voted for several years by international press as the world’s best island and it’s plain sad that I still know many Filipinos who have traveled extensively but hasn’t swam or stepped foot in the pristine waters and jungles of our Motherland. They say Palawan is our very own last frontier and my family seems to have an existing love story to the land. I am curious to find out all about our karmic bonds with this magical place we have called our home.

Back in 2010, when we first jumped ship (pun intended), we blindly pursued our passion of living the almost care-free hippie life in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. My husband and I took our then only child, a two-year old toddler with us for a super duper fun adventure. We rented a 1,000-square meter house and lot for six months (don’t ask how much, too cheap to believe!) and then bought hectares of farmland an hour away from town where we built our very first home together. Without full-proof concrete financial planning, our tropical homesteading dreams crumbled into pieces after the second year. We swallowed our humble pie and returned to Mega Manila empty-handed but with memories to last a lifetime.

This time, however, we’ve made sure that we have all bases covered. For my pessimist family and friends, here’s my passive-aggressive approach to answering all the lurking questions in your head:

Is this plan sustainable?

Yes, as mentioned, because this time around, all bases are covered. My husband and I would not move out of the big, bad city if we were to earn and save less. We learned that painful and important lesson years ago. We’re older, wiser and want the best for our children. Why else would we be doing this move?

What about schooling?

Because there are no Waldorf Schools on the island, I have re-enrolled myself in training for early education in Waldorf Education and signed up for the online Earthschooling Curriculum by the BEarth Institute because I am determined to homeschool my kids. I have noticed a huge shift in the local Philippine scene towards homeschooling. There are over 6,500 members in the Homeschoolers of the Philippines Facebook Group, many of which are active and thriving. No longer is it taboo. I’ve learned to respect families that homeschool when I hired a homeschooler for my business on her gap year. She was no slacker. On the contrary, she was uber responsible and exceeded my expectations with her quality of work and ethics. I have also met other young adults who were raised on the island and they have grown to be talented in their chosen craft and excelled in their field of work. I envision my children to be the same. Not everyone is built for survival-of the-fittest-mode and the city life. Early on, I could already tell my children are quite sensitive to the elements. I honestly feel that this is the reason why they chose us as their parents, because their souls knew that we would raise them differently.

Many of the things that matter in life can be learned outside of school, the most important aspects are taught not by school teachers, but by your parents—your very first teachers.


There are no hospitals in El Nido but we are a family that barely needs one, anyway. We don’t do use any pharmaceuticals (yes, I don’t spend a single cent on drugstores) and practice all natural therapies like Homeopathy, Aromatherapy and BodyTalk. I take self-health maintenance seriously. The last time I personally stepped foot in a hospital for my own healthcare was in 2007, the year my son was born via C-Section. After that horrid experience, I vowed never to birth the same way again. Thus, becoming a Sacred Pregnancy and Conscious Birth advocate after my VBAC (vaginal birth after C-section) homebirth-waterbirth in 2014. If not for my kids’ pediatrician who has a clinic inside a hospital (I wish she has her own independent clinic outside!), the C-section memory would be my single last visit for our whole family’s healthcare history.

Doesn’t it get boring after a while?

That would depend on who you are as a person. If you prefer weekends shopping at the mall, then island life is not for you. However, my husband taught me early on in our marriage that a life of a minimalist is a life worth living.

Case in point: whenever we would visit a grocery or a shop in the mall for essentials, trust that he can get out within minutes, not a second wasted.

Since I started my path on Mindful Motherhood and follow a Slow Living (try-to-make-everything-from-scratch) approach, I have followed suit and thanked him for leading the way. I have noticed that the children behave better when not exposed to electronic media or too much stimuli from outside the home. See for yourself and make an experiment: Take your children out, camping at the mountains or practice a gadget-free beach getaway one weekend and then for comparison, a fully packed two-day mall tour another weekend. See how they fare. Any meltdowns? Note down your realizations.

Personal conclusion

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to make this assumption. A life closer to nature is indeed a healthier and happier one. If you can truly find ways to be sustainable in a less-crowded, less-polluted, less-toxic place in the world, wouldn’t you want that for your family, too?

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.


Art by Dorothy Guya

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Filed Under:

culture, health, Island Life, Mindful Motherhood, momhood, Motherhood, Palawan, parenting, parents, Preen, Preen.ph, Slow Living, Waldorf Education

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