This early retiree now savors #farmlife in tiny house 2
Back in 2016, Tere Romano Salvacion already thought of building her retirement house when she and her husband got hooked on the Tiny House Movement.

This early retiree now savors #farmlife in tiny house

Back in 2016, Tere Romano Salvacion already thought of building her retirement house when she and her husband got hooked on the Tiny House Movement.
Leah C. Salterio | Dec 23 2023

When ABS-CBN was denied its franchise in 2020, a number of employees were left jobless. Some were in limbo while others found it hard to move on.

For Tere Romano Salvacion, who was with the network for more than three decades, she already knew what to expect. However, news of losing her job and retiring three years earlier still came as a shock to her. 

“I felt anger and asked, ‘Why me?’,” Salvacion told ABS-CBN News. “I know that the company was suffering financially, but I still felt upset. I was in denial for weeks. I wanted to cry, but tears wouldn't come out.

“Maybe because my family has always perceived me as a strong person and I did not want them to feel my pain. I gave myself time to grieve, recover and move on.”

Surprisingly, looking for work was not an option for Salvacion despite losing her job. “After dealing with stress, pressure and deadlines for more than three decades in the newsroom, I came to appreciate my newfound freedom.

“I can now have time for myself and my family. I can do the things that I have been putting off for the longest time. I can cook, bake, sketch and exercise again. I also became more spiritual. I am enjoying my #farmlife.”

Tere Romano Salvacion in her farm in Nueva Ecija
Tere Romano Salvacion in her farm in Nueva Ecija

Not that she prepared for being jobless early, but back in 2016, Salvacion already thought of building her retirement house. She and her husband, Dominic, got hooked on the Tiny House Movement.

“It‘s about refocusing on what is most important in life, like time, moments with family and freedom,” Salvacion explained. “Every day, we would watch videos from a YouTube Channel titled ‘Living Big in a Tiny House.’

”I got so fascinated with the unique small dwellings and the alternative lifestyle it offers. I have always imagined living in a small house with a big yard as my retirement home.”

Tiny house living

Can you imagine a 55.55 square meter house on a 1,200 square meter lot? That was exactly what Salvacion wanted.

“My aspiration finally came to fruition in 2018,” Salvacion said. “On December 9, the construction of my tiny farm house started. From the concept design, sourcing of finishing materials and all throughout the construction phase, I was hands-on.

“I wanted to make sure the entire look of the house would reflect my style and personality. Prior to the construction, we already planted fruit trees around the perimeter.

“We have catimon and pico mangoes, atis, rambutan, avocado, caimito, guyabano, pomelo, duhat, sineguelas, golden coconut, American lemon and calamansi.”

Barbecue night
Barbecue night

 “It is part of a 7,500 square meter residential lot in Barrio Maturanoc, Guimba, Nueva Ecija, which my grandfather inherited,” Salvacion said. “In 2020, it was subdivided among the heirs of my lolo’s children. The entire area used to be planted with pico mangoes.

“One of my fond memories of the place was picking green mangoes with my cousin every summer vacation. Equipped with a kitchen knife, we would sit under a tree, peel the mango ]or bite the mango in the absence of a knife) and dip it in bagoong isda [fish paste].

“I can still recall my father bringing home to Manila several baskets or crates of mangoes – our share of the harvest.”

Refuge during pandemic

The construction of the house was very timely. It was finished two years before the COVID-19 pandemic and Congress’ denial of ABS-CBN’s franchise.

“During lockdown, my tiny farm house served as my refuge, my bubble,” Salvacion said. “It also kept me sane. While others experienced depression and were inconsolable, I was happy and at peace, tending to my garden, fruit trees and small rice field.

Tere Romano Salvacion in her tiny house in Nueva Ecija
Tere Romano Salvacion in her tiny house in Nueva Ecija

“I would stay in Nueva Ecija with my daughter, Mieke, for three weeks every month. Once in a while, office friends would come to visit for a few drinks and bonfire night.

“When in Quezon City, I just stayed home. I don’t go to the mall or eat out. That was my routine for more than two years.

“I also shunned away from social media, but remained in touch with intimate friends. I reconnected with cousins whom I have not seen or talked to for many years. I also started an annual family reunion.”

She also managed to “declutter” and dispose of things she doesn’t need, including clothes.

“While in the province, I realized that I can live with only seven sets of clothes,” Salvacion declared. “Living in a tiny house made me realize that we have accumulated so many material things that we do not really need. I have to declutter.

“I did not miss my work, either. I just wanted to rest and relax. ‘One day at a time’ became my mantra. I am now loving the simple life.”

Tere Romano Salvacion and hubby Dominic
Tere Romano Salvacion and hubby Dominic

While others understandably planned to embark on a business after retirement, Salvacion thought otherwise. It was not her cup of tea.

“It’s not my forte. I did not even entertain the thought of embarking on a business even if I’m good at sales talk. When it comes to money matters, I’m not a risk taker. And besides, I have built two more tiny houses.”

Childhood dream

From the time she was a child, Salvacion dreamt of working in a TV network. She was never sidetracked from pursuing her childhood ambition.

“I have always wanted to work in a television station,” she recalled. “Back in the ‘70s, a relative who used to work at ABS-CBN, gave us a tour of the studios. I watched the taping of ‘Super Laff-in’ and the live airing of ‘12 O’clock High.”

In grade school and high school, Salvacion, however, liked performing on stage, writing scripts, poems and even directing a play.

“But I also liked drawing and sketching,” she recalled. “I was also good in Math, modesty aside, and that caused my dilemma when it was time to choose a course in college.

“I wanted to take up Mass Communication, but my dad convinced me to take up Architecture. He prevailed. Three semesters later, I realized that I was not meant to be an Architect. Hence, I followed my heart and shifted to my first choice. 

“I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, majoring in Broadcast Communication in UP Diliman. Looking back, I have no regrets that I pursued a career in Media.”

When she was an executive producer for news, Salvacion lamented how she was not able to spend quality time with her eldest daughter Sakki.

“Sakki would leave early for school and by the time she got back, I had left for the office,” Salvacion shared. “She would sleep late at night every day because she wanted to see me when I came home.

“Sometimes, I would call before leaving the office and tell her to get dressed because we’re going to Dunkin Donuts for our midnight snack. There were also instances when I would take her with me to the office, so we could spend time together in between work.”

 Tere Romano Salvacion with her grandkids
Tere Romano Salvacion with her grandkids

Today, Salvacion dotes on her three grandchildren – all boys – the sons of Sakki, who is married for a decade now to commercial pilot Robert Clyde Sanchez.

“Weekends are spent in the province at least twice a month,” Salvacion said. “We love al fresco dining. From breakfast to dinner, we eat in our lanai or gazebo. My husband, Dominic, is in-charge of the cooking. He has become an expert in grilling meat and fish.

“I’m in-charge of the dessert and booze. I look forward to Saturday nights when we gather around the bonfire and all the garden lights are on. I enjoy it very much when everyone is present, including my three grandkids.”