Rapha Valley – A Journey To Health and Wellness
One fine morning recently I joined a tour to the highland town of Salvador Benedicto, the summer capital of Negros Occidental.
The tour was organized by tour operator and blogger Maricar Dabao of Viaje Negrense.
On our itinerary was a place called Rapha Valley in Barangay Kumaliskis, owned by medical doctor Albert A. Jo and his wife Marilou.
After Dr. Jo and his efficient and friendly waiters welcomed us with cold fragrant towel of herbal scent, we immediately knew that the place would be different and the experience unique.
From a drink of garden-fresh carrot juice to bloodless dinuguan puto and dip made of cashew, we felt that our introduction to vegan life has begun.
Dr. Jo told us about himself – that his ambition was to be a chef but his father wanted him to be a medical doctor, and his activities at present is to educate people about the effects on our body and health of the food that we eat.
For this reason, Dr. Jo said he devotes his time lecturing about health and total wellness all over the Philippines. He has already conducted seminars and lectures on the topic in Boracay, Cebu, Subic, and many other places.
After the brief introduction, he guided us down the valley and we marveled how he was able to develop the sloping hills into terraces of many organic vegetables and herbs. Artie Lacson, one of the members of our group, commented that the development of sloping hills to terraces alone would cost around P 3 Million, not to mention the cost of planting different herbs and organic vegetables and the expenses of care and maintenance.
Dr. Jo identified and explained to us the different plants and its health benefits as we walked through the terraces. Here, we realized that even the lowly “baho-baho” is a cure for some ailments!
Our lunch was served in his huge but well-ventilated tent-like structure, complete with kitchen and chefs. The place is cool and offers a breathtaking view of different verdant hills and mountains.
Fresh vegetables and flowers picked from the garden terraces were served, with mouth-watering dressings of Dr. Jo’s recipes, followed by pasta.
The pasta had two dressing – one was tomato and the other mushroom, coupled with fish. Even during lunch, Dr. Jo continued his discussion about the food we eat and the role herbs and vegetables on our health and wellness.
He mentioned that if we suffer from arthritis and stress, Turmeric would be a cure. To detoxify, he gave us a recipe made up of 1 liter of water, add 20 pieces kalamansi plus molasses and cayenne pepper.
We concluded that instead of attending expensive stay-in detox seminars, we will try and take his recipe for three days and be totally detoxified.
We considered the experience in Rapha Valley as time well-spent, as it gives us an important hands-on lesson on health and wellness.
The bonus was that we were able to experience the coolness of Salvador Benedicto, enjoyed the scenery of the picturesque hills, traversed the cool road covered with pine tress along the way, and took a lot of pictures as remembrance.
Most of all, we went home refreshed and renewed, now conscious of our diet and the food we eat, remembering what Hippocrates, the father of medicine said: “The food you eat is your medicine.”