LITO CUBILLEJO could as well be the role model for today’s college graduates. Why? Because after finishing his commerce course in 1978, he did not look for employment in the office. Instead, he went back to his hometown in Alaminos, Laguna to become a full-time farmer.
CROPS NOT PLANTED BY OTHERS – Lito took over management of several parcels of land with ageing but still productive coconut trees to implement his own ideas in farming. One of the things he did was to plant crops other farmers in Alaminos were not planting.
SILING LABUYO – When we visited his farm in 1984, he was excited telling us a new “crazy” project that he had embarked on. And that is planting Siling Labuyo (native hot chilli) for its shoots or “talbos” which is a favorite ingredient in cooking chicken tinola. Before that, nobody ever thought of planting Siling Labuyo to produce leafy shoots for sale. Those found in the market were gathered from volunteer plants growing in other farms that were simply ignored by the farm owners.
P240,000 ANNUALLY – What did he do? He was just starting his chilli project at that time after making his business analysis. He was going to plant four chilli seedlings around the base of each of the 2,000 young mahogany trees he planted. As per his analysis, he could gross about P240,000 a year from his Siling Labuyo.
He explained that the four chilli plants around each young mahogany tree could easily produce shoots worth P10 in one month. Every day or every two days, harvesting can be done on plants around 100 to 200 mahogany trees, depending on how much his buyers can absorb. He said he would supply his shoots to distributors at the big market in Tanauan City.
HIS MONEY-MAKER THAT TIME – After telling us about his Labuyo project, we asked him what was his good money-maker at that time. He said without batting an eyelash that it was Latundan banana. It was one of several crops which he intercropped with 5 hectares of old coconut trees.
P12,000 EVERY 10 DAYS – How much was he making from Latundan? Every 10 days he harvested Latundan worth P12,000. That was already a fortune in those days. The same could be worth P30,000 or more in today’s high prices.
WHY LATUNDAN? – He loved Latundan particularly for two good reasons. First, it is one variety with a nice flavor that is well loved by consumers. There is a big ready market. Second, it is an early bearer. Only 11 months after planting, the banana plant will already be bearing fruit.
MULTINATIONALS DON’T CARE – The multinational companies which plant bananas by the thousands of hectares don’t care about Latundan, also for their own good reasons. For one, it has a very short shelf life. However, for Cubillejo, that short shelf life was all right with him. After all, he did not have any problem in marketing his harvest. A trader bought every fruit he produced at 90 centavos per piece. Oh yes, marketing by the kilo was not yet the common practice then.
Aside from money from the fruit of his banana, selling the suckers to other farmers was another source of income even if the price per sucker then was only seven pesos.
MAHOGANY SEEDLINGS – Cubillejo also made money from mahogany seedlings. He gathered the fruits of big trees near the church in Alaminos and germinated over a hundred thousand. He planted many of the seedlings but most were sold to other planters.
LAYERS – Later, Cubillejo became an egg producer. To make sure he got high quality feeds at a lower cost, he joined a cooperative that operates its own feedmill.
Oh yes, Lito Cubillejo is a smart agripreneur worth emulating by today’s college graduates and other millennials.