For years, tourism has been the lifeblood of the multi-hyphenated Robert Lim Joseph, fondly known as Bobby to his friends and family. As a businessman, civic worker, tourism and environmental advocate, gourmand and restaurateur, and consul of Latvia, Joseph spent most of his life championing sustainable tourism to develop the industry by attracting new guests while assisting its many stakeholders.
One of the many programs he spearheaded is farm tourism, which he dabbled into with the help of his friend and kindred spirit Tony Meloto, the founder of Gawad Kalinga.
Together, they established Paraiso Village Social Tourism Farm in San Jose, Batangas, in 2018. But there’s more to the farm than just being another tourism destination.
Inspired by their philanthropic tendencies, both Joseph and Meloto meticulously planned every aspect of Paraiso to make sure that it meets their goal of helping the local and nearby communities by teaching them how to make an income through natural integrated farming while encouraging guests to learn more about social tourism.
Paraiso Village Social Tourism Farm, with the help of its resident farmers, grows fruit trees and vegetables such as banana, dragonfruit, jackfruit, papaya, chili, ampalaya, bottle gourd, squash, and more, naturally—meaning without the use of chemical inputs like fertilizer and insecticides.
Guests can even harvest and take home their favorite fresh produce from the farm.
Several accommodations are also available on the farm, along with a swimming pool, to give guests an enjoyable and memorable experience. There’s also a multi-function hall that guests can utilize for different events like weddings, retreats, team buildings, and more.
However, Meloto shared that some of the irreplaceable memories that the farm’s guests can have are the ones where they commune with nature.
Although it’s been four years since the farm started, Meloto and Joseph continue to find new areas for improvement. Presently, Paraiso is on the way to developing a bike trail and a glamping area to cater to their millennial and younger guests.
Following social tourism
Social tourism revolves around the idea of bringing travelers to local communities and providing them with an experience that transcends leisure, ultimately inspiring them to contribute to the development of the place they visit.
Paraiso Village Social Tourism Farm involves residents of the area to work on the farm. While the husbands and sons are working on their plots of land, the wives create delectable dishes from the fresh produce harvested on the farm.
Farmers get a third of their harvest for consumption, a monthly wage, and an additional income from selling the produce in markets or other platforms.
Joseph’s wife, Ida Manalo, also supports this lifestyle and offers assistance by marketing the fresh produce, with the help of their daughters and social media, to folks in Manila.
Partaking in good food and making new memories on the farm isn’t the only way that guests or interested stakeholders can contribute to the farm’s goal of using social tourism for sustainable philanthropy.
Investors can opt to buy a lot from Paraiso and develop it into a business model according to their preferences. A prime example is a Balinese-inspired spa currently developed by Mayla Domequil. The area boasts of a lush garden, well-curated rooms, a refreshing dining area, and soon, a spa.
Once she brings guests in, she can tap into the other services of the farm, such as their accommodations and food, to generate a sustainable income for all.
In memory of an inspiring individual
Aside from Joseph and Meloto’s inclination towards philanthropy, they’re also inspired by the lifestyle led by Joseph’s late son Richard “Rich” Joseph.
Even at a young age, the late Joseph always made sure that he gave what he can to others and actively volunteered in Gawad Kalinga.
Joseph and Manalo had a chapel built on the farm to honor his memory and advocacy of “less for self, more for others, and enough for all.”