Sen. Kiko launches first authored book, Tagsibol

MAKATI CITY — With family and friends, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Saturday afternoon launched the first book he authored, Tagsibol, which features his journey into farming, from his chairmanship of the Senate committee on food and agriculture in 2010 to becoming a farmer himself.

Tagsibol, which means spring season, is an autobiographic snapshot of a life-stage where the lawmaker was able to tap into a different source of inspiration: producing healthy food and becoming one with Filipino farmers.

Pangilinan’s daughter, Frankie, who hosted her father’s book launch alongside her cousin, Donny Pangilinan, said: “Growing up with my Dad means growing up around farming. I saw how his passion for farming grew to how it is today. And how he tirelessly works toward bettering the lives of farmers. Tagsibol is a story of his journey, of this fight.”

Miel, Pangilinan’s youngest daughter, recalled her first visit to the farm and shared how her father taught her to respect farmers. “Thank you, you changed our view of life, of what farming is, and the lives of farmers. You made us have more respect for what they do for the entire community,” she said, addressing her father.

Aside from Pangilinan’s daughters, his nephews Donny Pangilinan, Joey Arenas, Joshua Buizon, Timothy Pangilinan, and Benjamin Pangilinan also worked at the farm. In fact, the nephews were what Pangilinan called the farm’s “first farm workers” who had their summer job in May 2012 and “sowed our first harvest of lettuce.”

 

Donny, Pangilinan’s nephew through brother Anthony and sister-in-law Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan, recalled the time he worked in the family-owned Sweet Spring Country Farm in 2012. He thanked his uncle for that “most memorable” time, learning about how hard farmers work to “produce the food we eat.”

“Tito Kiko has been so much into agriculture and farming that he influences our own family members to be part of farming as well,” he said. Sen. Pangilinan is fifth of nine children.

Joey Arenas, Pangilinan’s nephew through sister Chel Arenas and brother-in-law Vic, noted how farming is a hard but necessary job. He also said that farmers need to be top priority and that government needs to step up in its job of helping farmers. “Tito Kiks, thank you for the experience. I have a deeper sense of respect for farmers and what they do,” he said.

The senator-farmer said he is grateful that his daughters and their cousins have a deeper appreciation of farmers, which he said is what his book is all about.

“Tungkulin nating lahat na ibahagi sa susunod na henerasyon ng mga Pilipino ang kahalagahan ng mga magsasaka at ng pagsasaka, sa buhay natin bilang isang tao at bilang isang taumbayan. And as the next generation of Filipino tell their own farming stories today, we are helping make sure that happens,” Pangilinan said.

“In the end, until and unless we have a healthy respect for our farmers, we will continue to be a hungry, not fully productive country when it comes to agriculture. And this [book] is a humble contribution in helping bring that message that we must put more value to our farmers, put more value and appreciation for agriculture, and have a healthy respect for them,” he added.

The senator-farmer started building the family-owned farm, Sweet Spring Country Farm, in Alfonso, Cavite with the help and guidance of his friends Ernest Escaler of Gourmet Farms and the late Ronald Costales of Costales Farms.

The senator’s wife, Sharon Cuneta, shared the Pangilinan family’s appreciation of farming and farmers. “It’s really a very noble thing that Kiko has gotten himself into. It’s not something that is ornamental to us or adds to his credibility as a former head of the Senate committee on agriculture. He actually has acquired so much knowledge about agriculture because he is truly passionate about it,” she said, joking how she sometimes feels jealous of her husband’s tomatoes, lettuce, and other produce because he has more pictures of them in his phone than of hers.

Tagsibol will be available at National Bookstores and Fully Booked branches on May 20.