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  • Family Leaves Condo Life For 'Off-Grid' Living In The Province: 'Matututo Kang Magtipid'

    The family says there's more pros than cons when they left the city life.
    by Angela Baylon .
Family Leaves Condo Life For 'Off-Grid' Living In The Province: 'Matututo Kang Magtipid'
PHOTO BY antonette colobong ILLUSTRATOR stephanie ocampo
  • The COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions that came with it created ripples of impact for families. For one, many parents reassessed the way of life they're leading and how it affects their kids. Some made career shifts, while others, like couple Antonette and Emmanuelle John Colobong, started a new life in the province, away from the city.

    Leaving the city life for buhay probinsya

    For 11 years, Antonette and EJ lived in a condo unit in Parañaque, where they built their family of five. 

    "My family were very happy and content with what we have in Parañaque. Most of the things we need are accessible," Antonette shared in her e-mail to Smart Parenting. "But when the pandemic happened, we realized that the place we once called home no longer worked for us."

    Antonette and Emmanuelle John Colobong with three kids, Venice, AJ, and Emma.
    PHOTO BY Antonette Colobong

    Thinking about her kids' welfare, the mom of three said, "seeing that they are affected by the sudden restrictions," made her and her husband hit the reset button. 

    When another COVID-19 surge was recorded sometime last September 2021, and Metro Manila was placed under the strict Alert Level 4, the Colobong family decided to move to the province.

    In 2020, they bought a property in Siruma, Camarines Sur. It was a beachfront property, and back then, it was a secluded area that could only be reached by boat. The place is also not tied to a power grid and water line.

    The property was supposed to be a place where they could go during vacations since they love the beach. Little did they know, it was going to be their next 'forever home.'

    Colobong family's sustainable house.
    PHOTO BY Antonette Colobong

    "Mahilig kami sa beach, lagi kaming nagbi-beach talaga na family. Gusto lang namin ng place na biglang mapupuntahan, magswi-swimming din tapos uuwi din."

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    "Naisip namin why not try staying here ng medyo matagal kasi nga dito, mas nakakatakbo 'yung mga kids. Hindi sila laging naka-face mask, fresh air, nakakapaglaro sila. Maraming animals na nakikita," Antonette shared.

    Fueled by their desire to give only the best to their children, Antonette and EJ "took a big leap of faith and moved to a new place, no electric and water company available and a challenging road getting inside the property."

    Since moving to Siruma, the family can enjoy bonding time by the beach anytime!
    PHOTO BY Antonette Colobong
    1-year-old Emma in her element: water!
    PHOTO BY Antonette Colobong


    Pros and cons of off-grid living

    Luckily, the area has already undergone some development and can already be accessed via land if the weather permits.

    "Going to Siruma okay naman 'yung road, but going inside the property, may mga slope, pa-hill na daan. Sobrang naka-depende sa weather. Kapag maulan hindi kami makakalabas," EJ explained.

    The couple admits that they miss the convenience the city life gives them when it comes to having easy access to a lot of things. Currently, their property is an hour to two hours drive away from the town proper, where a supermarket is located.

    There's also the challenge of building a self-sustaining house. They had to invest in solar panels and the construction of a deep well, which, as we all know, can be costly.

    "Sunlight as our source of electricity. Natural spring where we can get enough water supply."

    But despite these, still, for the Colobong couple, the pros outweigh the cons of moving to the province.

    PHOTO BY Antonette Colobong
    PHOTO BY Antonette Colobong

    Although they are away from the market, there's a nearby community where they can buy meat and vegetables from the locals for a much lower price, and as EJ exclaimed, "fresh pa!"

    Since they're not connected to the power and water line, they also skip paying for monthly bills. It also taught them to value our natural resources more.

    "Matututo kang magtipid," EJ tells this writer, saying they have to keep an eye on their water and electricity consumption to make sure they stored and have enough left for the days to come.

    They also started to be mindful of their waste disposal. Antonette and EJ would use certain biodegradables as fertilizer for their mini-garden. They also collect recyclable trash to be traded in junkshops. "'Yung naipapapalit namin sa junkshop, napapambili namin ng sibuyas, bawang, magkano rin 'yun!"

    Tips when moving to the province

    Antonette and EJ manage a salon shop and an IT company back in Metro Manila. Fortunately, they can still supervise these businesses online.


    This is one thing the couple said people who want to move to the province should consider—if there's an opportunity for livelihood in the place where they want to transfer to.

    Another thing is to make sure that you're uprooting your life and moving it to a site that you really like and will be comfortable in. "Tingnan niyo munang maigi kung gusto niyo ba talaga 'yung area," EJ advised.

    The house is designed to let in natural light and fresh air.
    PHOTO BY Antonette Colobong
    Indoor plants can be seen in almost every nook of the house.
    PHOTO BY Antonette Colobong
    Every day feels like a vacation inside their beachfront property!
    PHOTO BY Antonette Colobong

    Lastly, take into account your children, their needs, and wants. EJ says they always keep open communication with their children's pediatrician. They also make sure to stock up on their vitamins and other medications they might need.

    The Colobong family does not regret trading their posh condo life for a simpler and quieter off-grid living in the province.

    Antonette says, "My kids can go out and run freely without us worrying about the illness they might get being outside. My eldest is able to have a dog to love.

    Sunlight as our source of electricity. Natural spring where we can get enough water supply. Internet provider that connects us to our work and online classes. Fresh seafood, meats, and vegetables are available in the area.

    Breeze that cools our hot afternoon. Ocean where my kids can swim and pick all the shells they want. Lastly, a HOPE that everything will be alright by asking guidance from our Lord."


    See more photos from Colobong family's off-grid living below:

    Since leaving the condo-living, taking care of a pet is no longer an issue for the family.
    PHOTO BY Antonette Colobong
    PHOTO BY Antonette Colobong
    They also have a playground area for the kids.
    PHOTO BY Antonette Colobong
    PHOTO BY Antonette Colobong
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