Down To Earth With Maria Perrine
If you’ve ever wondered about simple living, Maria Perrine will show you how it’s done. Spoiler alert: It’s as amazing as we all imagined it would be.
At one time or another, we’ve all dreamed of living the simple life. The allure of a slow paced and laidback lifestyle can be especially irresistible on days when we feel like it’s all just too much. Well, Maria Perrine did just that, and has been living a homestead lifestyle since 2013. Today, she gives us a glimpse into her world— of parenthood, and all things natural.
What was your initial reaction to moving to Bukidnon? and how did that adjustment play out?
Mindanao is a uniquely beautiful region, unlike anywhere else in the Philippines. Having spent several years living in Malaysia as a child, I felt right at home, as the flora and fauna were similar, Bisaya sounds close to Bahasa, and my favorite Maranao foods brought back so many memories.
The greater adjustment was blending into a new family with a completely new dynamic and culture. The isolation that came with living in the mountains was quite the change, too. I was in my mid-twenties, plucked right out of city life and planted in the middle of nowhere. Being more of an introvert, it was easy to adjust to the slower lifestyle which played out beautifully!
Bukidnon has become my home now, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I am happy to live out here amongst so many inspiring people!
What is the best thing about your homestead lifestyle in the mountains?
It’s hard to choose just one really, but definitely the fact that I can walk out and harvest something whenever I need it. Medicinally, I can grab aloe vera outside when someone gets burned, or a tuber of turmeric or tawa tawa to chew on if someone’s having an asthma attack, or a few stalks of tangled for a pesky toothache. Sinta can be foraged to make a tonic for children’s tummy aches, or a poultice of freshly picked pukinggan for swollen joints.
Our kitchen garden is just a stone’s throw away to pick the freshest greens for dinner, or herbs for making a rainy afternoon tea. Need a cocktail? I’ve got a big bed of mint leaves just waiting to be turned into a mojito.
What is your favorite part of the day?
On most weekdays, I wake up before the household to have my time alone to reflect, meditate, or exercise. I listen to the farm slowly wake up, the birds begin their morning song, the sun starts warming up the dewy crops in the yard, the cold mountain air begins to lift.
I go on a long trail run with our dog through the farm and forest, greeting livestock grazing on their breakfast. If not the mornings, we trail run just before sundown instead. I love these moments of self-care, because they are those rare times when I am not cooking, managing, studying, homemaking, or homeschooling.
Do you miss anything about living in Manila?
Salons, bars, restaurants — *giggle*
Kidding aside, naturally I miss my family and friends. The trade-off for living out here were the sacrifices made in my career and personal relationships. I have missed so many milestones and bonding times, and I have missed out on additional work experience with so many potential mentors in my trade.
But I have no regrets, as we have carved out a beautiful life in nature where our loved ones come to retreat to.
How important do you think it is to do personal projects outside of being a mother?
My ultimate priority is taking care of my daughter and husband, but I do firmly believe in having personal projects to keep my skills and interests alive. Having raised us on his own, my dad taught me to prepare for any circumstance to possibly arise tomorrow and never depend on a single source of income.
I think my husband and I are a great team — we work together to make sure we can support each other when times get tough, as they can for everyone. Aside from work projects, I value our indie board game nights a great deal with my siblings here, since we can totally geek out and challenge our brains while having so much fun!
How has parenthood changed you?
A great deal. Not just me independently, but my husband as well, and our dynamic as a couple. We became so much more responsible, knowing that we have our little girl to think about now.
Aside from the obvious life changing aspects of parenthood, I have become one of those people who calls their spouse “Papa”, which makes me cringe when I catch myself doing it. We have trained ourselves to say “fudge” and “holy kamote” instead of swearing, and our alcohol is appropriately named “mama juice and papa juice”!
What is a non-negotiable principle in your home?
This was a tough one to choose from. I think respect tops that list, but not simply by verbalizing traditional cultural terms such as “Ate” or “Tita”. We want our daughter to grow up understanding all walks of life from her heart, to be forgiving of those different from her by respecting their personal beliefs.
We still learn this everyday ourselves! Children learn this by being treated respectfully by their elders, so in our household it is not a one way street. We show her the same respect we expect back from her.
What are some things that make parenthood truly fun and fulfilling for you?
Exploring the world with a young and curious set of eyes is so much fun! I love the sense of bonding, where such simple things can mean the world to our daughter. It’s falling in love all over again, and again, everyday.
What is a current challenge with the little one, and how are you dealing with it?
She has recently started to hiss at me like an aggravated cat when she doesn’t like something, and I am not very amused. Thanks, Puppy Dog Pals.
I remind her that I don’t respond to strange and rude communication, and I don’t mind her until she talks like a normal human being. I stand my ground until she eventually comes around , which she does!
Do you have a particular favorite story of something Inara has done to make you laugh?
I am not sure how appropriate this story is, but the only thing that comes to mind is an incident from when she was three years old. She dropped a wooden toy on the ground and exclaimed “Oh, SH**” with such fierce emotion. We held in our laughter so hard, riddled with guilt for having taught her that by accident. Thus began the days of switching out the swear words.
Top 3 things that make motherhood easier for you?
- Our farm dog. This is a bit of a double edged sword as his training has been so tiresome and intense, but our daughter spends so much time with him that it makes it all worth it!
- A daily trail run to clear my mind.
- Mama Juice aka WINE . The ultimate self-care routine. Need I say more?
Everyone loves a good mom-hack: what has been your best life saver to date?
I like to keep some grab-and-go activities by the door in case our daughter decides on a whim that she wants to go outside! The paints and paintbrushes in a box, so we can paint leaves and rocks outside, or her gardening tool kit as well, in case she wants to plant some flowers, or her bubbles and baskets are accessible in case she wants to go treasure hunting on a trail. If I take too long to get supplies together, she changes her mind and reverts to a couch potato.
What compelled you to start shooting your vlogs?
My friends and family in Manila had been encouraging me to do so for years, as Instagram has been their way of keeping up with what we’ve been up to. I would also post pictures of all my homemade food from scratch, and get hounded for recipes and instructions. I decided this year while we were all under quarantine to start filming my recipes, and it started to take off!
It’s been quite a ride, as before this year I didn’t know how to film a video let alone edit one myself— I’m a one woman production team! I hope one day I can grow enough to hire someone to do the production for me, as I struggle with balancing that with real life responsibilities. I’m so happy that people enjoy the content, and it keeps me inspired to do more.
Tell us your personal favorite recipe, or one that you had the most fun shooting.
My favorite recipe so far has been the Spanish Bread video. But in terms of the most fun shooting? I have a bunch of videos that I have yet to complete and release that have been the most fun — an upcoming series on Adlai!
Any advice you can give for those looking for ways to transition to a more sustainable lifestyle?
You can start in the smallest ways that make the biggest impact! Limiting plastic use, lessening your red meat consumption, learning how to DIY more things, learning how to cook food from scratch, embracing simplicity in celebration, and potting your first mini herb garden are great ways to kick start your new sustainable lifestyle.
*sipping on virtual mojito*
It’s safe to say that we can always live vicariously through Maria Perrine’s videos and IG.