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August 2014

Sarangani and Koronadal

By: Gina Lopez

I first visited Sarangani in the early part of this year. Governor Steve Solon ran unopposed and if you meet him, you will understand why. You also have to meet his energetic and very charming wife, Michelle – and I am confident you will probably come up with the same conclusion as I and everyone else does. They are a very good team – honest, committed and very efficient.

I saw different possibilities there, which were revisited over the weekend. It was a family affair. It was my sister, Berta, who really wanted to go. Being the last weekend before I go on my bi-annual retreat, I coerced my sons into going. My other sister Marisa agreed to go with her two kids and then Ernie, who heads ABS-CBN Publishing, plus my first cousin Rogy – and it was a wonderful family affair. Included was Rose Ann Belmonte, who is almost like family to me. Our kids having been classmates since they were kindergarten until now as college....

The Conclusion? Sarangani is good to go.

PARAGLIDING
I met a Norwegian there who said that Sarangani was the BEST paragliding place in Asia because there are no intrusions along its coast. In particular he was talking about the Sarangani Bay Paragliding site at the Safil Ranch.  It is a little bit pricey but I have had dreams of flying. And my favorite song is "I believe I can fly" so I bought in. It is Php3,000 per glide but if you are 6, then you will end up paying Php2,500 each.

My experience: If you want to be a bird, feeling flight... feeling free... this is the way to go. Don’t do it on a full stomach like I did, which made me feel a bit nauseous. However the feeling of flight was incredible.  I was up a little over 20 minutes, and this was even educational because Buko – the ONLY paragliding instructor in the entire country -- informed me about drafts and about riding the drifts. I really felt that I could go hiiiiiigh up and touch the clouds or that I could zoom to another island. And it is safe. There are hardly any accidents. Buko is such an expert – even my landing was graceful. The exciting news is the first ever paragliding international event is going to be held in Sarangani on August 22-24, 2014. If you are interested in going there please call Buko Raymundo at 2151015 or Christopher at 09228071961. Another enticement is while you wait, you can engage in some archery for only Php500. My nephew was thrilled that he shot several bulls eye at his first ever attempts.There will be kites to fly and food to eat... Come to this event and then you can visit all our other ecotourism sites. 

TARGET SHOOTING
This was my son, Roberto's request. The governor had told him about this previously, and it hadn’t left his mind, so he agreed to give Sarangani another go. The first time I brought him, I was too busy with community work. My clear realization is that I should not mix work with my sons’ visit to the places. They want to enjoy. So that’s what we did. They were joined by Rose Ann Belmonte – who told me the story of how her father had rescued her mother by shooting an "attacker" when she was very young. So she took on to target practice with a zest.

THE FISH PORT
This similarly elicited exclamation points from those who visited. One goes early in the morning, around six am to catch the huuuuuge tunas.  You see how they classify the tuna.. See the yellow tuna, the blue fin tuna and the huuuuge mackarels... If they put up a restaurant here, just like fisherman’s wharf, it will sell.

WATER TUBING
My sisters and their kids loved this! The thrill of riding the river on a salbabida  (the inner tube of a tire) was exciting.  And the side on the Pangi River is operated by a hardworking T’boli community in New La Union.

ZIPLINES IN LAKE SEBU
The group that did this was effusive.  The ride at Seven Falls is the highest ziplines in Asia. The breathtaking view of majestic waterfalls, lush vegetation and the meandering river below resulted in statements like: “The best ever!”

KORONADAL SIOK FALLS
There was such a big improvement from the last time I was here. There is now a visitor center, a shed for bikes, a place to eat, a make shift toilet and the community seemed so much more organized. They functioned very well as guides, and assisted in the climb. There were bamboo railings along the hike making it safe. The forest... oh the forest...  there is something to be said about a pristine non-commercial forest. That is what Siok Falls offers. It gave me so much energy... I was still feeling it even after I had landed in Manila. I was wondering why near midnight I was still awake. I usually plunk down in exhaustion by that time. Then I figured out it was the forest.

SARANGANI HIGHLANDS
This is a hotel having a gorgeous view of Sarangani Bay plus it is very nicely landscaped. Gardeners were ecstatic.  The attraction is its owner Doc Joe Ruiz. He made us feel so at home – attending to all our needs. To think it is only 20 minutes from the airport.

THE FARM AT CARPENTER HILL
This is the hotel in Koronadal.  Fusion Japanese – Filipino in very good taste, we all found it beautiful. It has villas for only Php4,500. And the rooms are priced from Php2,500 – Php3,500. The hotel itself is well appointed. And the food is good.

The whole trip lasting four days and three nights including the hotels, the food, the transportation –  EVERYTHING– Php11,000 ( that is exclusive of airfare, and fees for paragliding ). That is a real bargain. To think that while spending all that money you are in fact helping the communities. Because they cook for you, we pay them for visiting their sites.  We jack up the local economy and fulfill PNoy’s and everyone's wish of inclusive growth.

Please visit this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwCAFu25Bek&feature=youtu.be to watch how we enjoyed our stay here.

Sarangani is open the whole year round. They don’t have typhoons. It is safe and the people are wonderful. If you are interested in going please call Bantay Kalikasan – Green Initiative hotline – 4152272 local 4551 or email kalikasan@abs-cbn.com

I can be reached at regina_lopez@abs-cbn.com.

July 2014

Vietnam
By: Gina Lopez

Vietnam was Roberto, my son’s, idea. He constantly surfs the net. Intrigued by Anthony Bordain's  visit to Vietnam, he suggested we go there. It’s a challenge to sync his schedule with my other son, Benjamin, in International School. So we found six days, since Benj just started his vacation.

FIRST DAY
We stayed at the Metropole – a hotel with a distinct old feel to it.  Beautiful greenery and very well appointed rooms. I love the staff – from the doormen, to the restaurant people. They are all oh so nice – and sincerely so. Hotel Metropole is one hundred years old. The original wing reeks of history. It even has a bunker underneath where the hotel guests including American folk singer Joan Baez would stay for eight hours while bombing was going on. They discovered it in 2012 and have been able to retain the "bunker feel" to it. Going under I felt – how horrible those times must have been.

The first day was a city tour – and a street food tour. We were very ably handled by Thao. She was highly recommended by the deputy manager of the Metropole.  I could understand why. She is intelligent with a keen sense of history.

I was introduced to "Sir Turtle" – the symbol of Happy Vietnam He is so special he is regarded as holy. He is a 300-year old turtle that resides in the middle of the lake. The Vietnamese believe he is good luck.... That he was key to their defeat of the Chinese invaders in the 13th century.  When he was sick, he made headlines every day. He had a whole team of top notch doctors to make sure he would be okay. He shows up 7 times a year, whenever they have something special.

I went to the prison known as Hanoi Hilton – the French built this prison to torture those against colonialism.  They put a wall with glass and lots of electrical wires.

Like the Philippines, Vietnam was heavily colonized. Upon hearing the stories, their fate feels worse.  Once French and Japanese brought Vietnamese rice to their respective countries – and  2 million Vietnamese starved!!!  I have an aversion to colonialism. I have an aversion to cruelty – and certain aspects of colonial rule have a tinge of that.

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Observations

I felt sadness to the land when I arrived... Of course that was at 1:30 in the morning… If you board a Red Eye Cebu Pacific flight it will only cost $300 and in three hours you are in Vietnam There is no visa required. Although I stayed at the Metropole because I have an ACCOR card which allows me to have a good discount. The hotel is more pricey than the rest but my room in the new wing was so well appointed I was impressed. While walking around I saw a lot of hotels which looked decent for only $10 a night. That’s not bad at all – and lots of inexpensive food nearby.

Vietnamese men smoke so much! For two dollars they can get two whole packs.  They even have loose tobacco which they smoke through a big pipe. Clearly the educational campaign on the ills of smoking does not exist here. What is interesting is it is only the men who smoke.

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Street food galore. 

This gave me a lot of ideas for the esteros. Once we get the esteros clean, as in even the water is clean and not smelling – a street food scenario might work. My sons loved this environment of eating in the streets. I think Thao might have been taken aback at their appetites though. The roughness of it whetted their appetites.

On our first street food venture, we started with porridge prepared by this woman who is continuing what her mother had started. Then we went to another street and ate quail. My taste in food is 180 degrees different than my sons. Benj got a kick out of gulping the head down. Sigh... But we have the same taste in liking the food hot, spicy and with "punch". I even had a whole bottle of Vietnamese beer! And I don’t normally drink. And I was fine! After that we went to another place to eat chicken with pickle and beef barbecue. As if that wasn't enough we went to still another place and had noodles where one could see whole bodies of ducks that had been skinned.

As if that wasn't enough we still went to another place to eat Bánh Mi – a French baguette filled with liver, lettuce, tomatoes and other stuff. Thao was thinking they could just eat it later that night. Her eyes widened when she saw that they ate it in the taxi!  Jokingly I told Thao, “My sons are not normal.”

After all of that and still looking for dessert, she probably agreed with me internally.  We went to this ice cream place run by government. There was a loud speaker going on and looong lines of people eating ice cream.  I don’t like eating white sugar because it makes me tired but I decided to give in – just to experience Vietnamese ice cream. I took the raw rice ice cream. It was good.

Type this on YouTube – STREET FOOD IN VIETNAM – to watch our street food experience.

My initial reaction was: So is this communism? But it seems to allow for healthy free enterprise.  We visited a mall where there were expensive shops: Hermes, Louis Vitton, Salvatore Ferragamo etc. Admittedly there weren’t many people buying... but the fact of just allowing these shops to function was something.

Where the Communist meme is felt is in the party system. There is only one party... and they don’t seem accountable. Meaning they are in power regardless. For governance answerable to the people, that might not be a good idea. I saw looong rows of houses - all empty. And buildings and buildings and buildings – all empty. And I saw a huge mountain of burnt garbage.

Nevertheless, with its tree-lined streets, its beautiful people, its relatively clean air, and its very charming culture – I feel Vietnam has great promise.


SECOND DAY
Biking through Vietnam. I loved being active, going through the streets.  Oh my goodness! The last time I went to Vietnam what I noted was bicycles and people in old fashioned Vietnamese costumes. That was 15 years ago. Now I see motor bikes and motor bikes and motor bikes! It definitely is Vietnam’s main transportation.

I was impressed with the feeling of community – the children playing in the park, the people playing badminton and volleyball in the easements. It’s because the air is clean – well relatively, compared to Manila. You really won’t feel like playing if the air is polluted.

We biked through paddies, cities, temples, kept on stopping intermittently to drink sugar cane juice. A bit of history here and there, we did a total of 32 kilometers including the stops, the lunch, the resting – all in all it took us 8 hours. It was great exercise. By the tail end, I felt I was getting really good at it. In the beginning I would lose my balance. I hadn’t biked in ages.  By the end of the trip I could get up easily from both sides. And I felt I had greater control of the bike.

Type this on YouTube – BIKING IN VIETNAM – to view our city tour experience.

 

We got home around five pm. I was so tired. I wanted to meditate during solstice. At the insistence of my kids I joined them for another Bánh Mi. My son was looking for this Bánh Mi place in Vietnam where the sandwich will change your life! Huh? Well that’s what the internet said... Unfortunately it is in Hôi An, not Hanoi. So we ended up with Bánh Mi seafood fish and then recapped it with ice cream. Plus my son made a date with the doorman to bring him to seafood fish at 6:30 in the morning and to ride behind him in the scooter. Then he got up the next day so early…

I can remember my father and grandfather who would determine their international travels on the restaurants they wanted to eat in. My dad loved to eat in these "hole in the wall" places. Well something in that gene was definitely passed on to my sons.


THIRD DAY
We went to Halong bay. We stopped at the place where we could eat and shop.. It was great shopping for jewelry, Vietnamese clothes and all other goodies. They are not much into health stuff. Almost all of their food has white sugar… But I like their coffee and beer.

Halong bay is one of the wonders of the world. It really is spectacular… with more than 3,000 islands, rock formations jutting out from the sea. No one living in these islands... It is breathtaking. We were on a boat… just me, the kids and a really good tour guide.

Type this on YouTube – VIETNAM’S HALONG BAY – to view how we enjoyed the majestic beauty of Halong Bay.

 

To understand Vietnam better Kien suggested that we watch Indochine – an Oscar winning film starring Catherine Deneuve. It did give me a better feel of the place.


THIRD DAY

The kids were watching the World Cup so I let them sleep it out in the morning. We ate lunch in a very pretty restaurant, with decently priced cuisine, loooots of variety and clearly doing good business. In the afternoon we went to Thirty Six Streets – where each street has a particular feel to it: the Blacksmiths Street, The Pottery Street etc... In terms of business, I think it is a good idea.

We had street food again and that was it.

Five days and four nights. We loved it. I have realized that the way to make international travel interesting is to make it active. We biked, kayaked, ate street food and walked... It’s a great way to interact with the energy of the land. Museums, temples don't cut it with my kids.

Vietnam.  I love the country. I love the feel of the place. I especially love the people. Imagine they were able to withstand the American invasion, the French invasion and the Chinese invasion. This tiny country with small people – that says something about their spirit. I like their strength of character – there is a purity that appeals to me.

If you are interested to go, you may contact my tour guides: Thao's number is +84 90 2226366 and her email is sophia76ng@gmail.com. She can arrange tours for you just contact her ahead of time.  Kien's number is +84 98 9339200. He was great for Halong Bay. The gentleman that brought us around in bikes is Dan. He rents out bikes and has more than ten off beat bike tours. I highly recommend this. You can get his number from Thao.

Vietnam is just a few hours away from the Philippines, and not an expensive travel. .. I highly recommend it.

I can be reached at regina_lopez@abs-cbn.com

June 2014

The Power of Pain
By: Gina Lopez

I have been going through something – and I feel it can help others. It is not intellectual. It is energetic. But if you understand it conceptually, it can help you... so here goes.

"Pain is meant to be felt" is one of the key lines in the movie "The Fault in our Stars."

My experience this past month affirms this.

My experience: Two weeks running – two events – and I thought it was unfair. I got hurt. I meet with someone once or twice a week to look at my life flow to make sure I am going in the right direction. I also look at opportunities wherein my life could flow better. It is not intellectual. It is all based on feel – an intuitive mapping of what is going on in my consciousness.

In a session – just after the "event" my connector led me to the pain… beyond the story, beyond the reaction... just to the feeling of pain.. There was a sense of "oldness" in it. It wasn’t a fresh thing. It was familiar. There was an unbearability in the space. I kept on going in... until I reached what felt to me like an abyss. Total blackness. But no more pain… Just a feeling of the Divine.

I've been having a series of sessions on this "pain". The effect: there is now a stillness in my daily meditation. Almost like the courage to go through the pain was cleansing. I feel bigness in me that I hadn't felt before. I feel the courage to go through the pain revealed a part of me which is "bigger", wiser - and oh so much stiller.

Reflection: Situations in life are designed to take us deeper. If we "hack" it in the right way – it can actually make us better people. Bring us to "deeper” places. Reveal to us a part of ourselves which can actually be quite sublime, quite wise.

The challenge is not to get stuck into the "reaction” of the pain. From my observation and experience this can be multifold: The usual reaction is one of anger directed at the party that is responsible for the pain. One can get stuck in "the story". This is very very tiring. The mind just goes on and on – remembering things – thinking things – suspecting things… It’s an endless cycle of chaos and hurt which just serves to get one tired. I don’t recommend this at all. You have to be careful because especially if the situation is seemingly unfair, this is what usually happens.

I also don’t recommend “turning the other cheek". Situations in life give you the opportunity to grow – one in wisdom – but also in the strength and guts to address the situation – just not from a space of negativity or anger, because that is just going to be counterproductive.

The direction to go "beyond the story" is a good way to go – into just feeling your hurt – and if you can understand WHY you are so hurt it will be good. It will lead to a deeper understanding of yourself which is always good. Going beyond the story will give you a different take on the story. Understand it deeper. On this deeper understanding, you can now act – if it is necessary. You can communicate if it will help. The most important thing is not to get stuck in the reaction because more often than not, it is negative.

Sometimes. Sometimes the reaction is to fall in a "victim" mode, where one pities oneself – and just wallows deeper and deeper in despair. Do not let this happen. Sometimes it helps to be active. Run in nature, swim in the sea. Be physically active... whilst taking the mind out of the reaction. I don’t suggest comfort eating. You will gain weight and the pain just comes back. I also don't recommend getting lost in the "net" - YouTube etc.... It is diversionary tactics of the lower self.... the best is to stare the issue right in the eye. For this you may need help.

A third effect might be one of numbing. It is so painful so one just sets it aside and gets on with life. There is the direction of trying to "forget" the pain. After the anger, and the victimhood – this is the most common mode. To forget. To set aside. To get on with life.

The only problem here is that in the "numbing" one loses the gift the pain can give. Yes one can live life, in joy even, but that pain is still there. Somewhere in the subconscious – nestled there – influencing the way we live our lives, the relationships we have, and yes even the way we look at life, at situations, at people. This is quite common. What will happen is a situation will come up in life which reminds you of the previous trauma. Your buttons are touched and more often than not your reaction to the current situation far exceeds what is called for. Then life can get really messy.

What I have found is that if one has the courage to go through the pain – really feel it – and then let the Divine hold it, that is when the healing happens. There is no crust of negativity or hurt – no scab imbedded in the deep subconscious that happens. One has healed – and has moved on to letting life flow but without any baggage. One has forgiven to the point of even loving. This is a good and advisable way to go.

If you want help in this regard I can help. This is what ISIS is all about: Inner Space Interactive Sourcing – clearing the subconscious of baggage. You can receive it. You can also learn to give it. It is great for relationships...

We just had an ISIS intensive on May. I let Kulas, my gardener and Rose, my laundry woman who also attends to my room – go. I had previously taught them meditation and they loved it so I decided to let them attend the ISIS intensive. The effect has been marked. Rose is so much more efficient now when she does her work. Both are so much happier. She came back from the ISIS intensive and said, “Ma'am, nakita ko ang takot ko. Pumunta ako sa malalim na lugar...” She is just so much happier and interestingly much more organized – pretty amazing. The subconscious affects in more ways than we can imagine.

I even think that as we learn life's lessons, as we allow ourselves to be brought to deeper, more profound places in our consciousness, as we realize a wiser and bigger part of ourselves, life will deal with us in a different way. We only see a minute fraction of our life. Remember always that our goal can never ever be material. Yes we need the means in life, but it’s who we can learn to be that makes life worth living....

Life goes on…

I can be reached at regina_lopez@abs-cbn.com.

May 2014

Journey to the Heart of the Country
By: Gina Lopez

We are at the tail end of our Journey to the Heart of the Philippines trips. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make it to the Mindoro leg but I was told it holds a lot of promise. I did go twice to Sibuyan and it was soooo much fun!!

I actually went on the roro – 2Go for the first time! Twelve hours on the roro, and it was a blast. 2Go Travel allowed exclusive use of the top deck off for us for a few hours since we were so many. We had parlor games, cheering competitions, and singing… – the time just slipped by without us even knowing. And when I went off to sleep I was told the group stayed up late and sang and danced the night away.

The next day we got to Romblon and went straight to frolic in the gorgeous white sand of Tiamban Beach. There we exercised, played Frisbee, relay, dodge ball and other team sports. The trip with the Miss Earth winners was particularly fun because the girls were soooo game! They are young so they had a lot of energy notwithstanding the fact that they looked amazing in bikinis… beautiful inside and out..  My first trip had the Bantay Bata staff, the second had Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC), Kapit Bisig para sa Ilog Pasig and Miss Earth.

At noon we took a two-hour boat ride to Sibuyan. Even that was fun – with the deep blue sea and fresh air… The girls sunbathed in the roof deck... That was our journey to the heart of the country: roro, boat ride - and there we were....

Upon arrival, we settled in Sanctuary – a very charming hotel in the island, embraced by lush landscaping and the magnificence of Mt. Guiting Guiting in the background. Most of the rooms face the mountain. 

After settling down, we went to Lambingan Falls – and had a sumptuous meal. It helped that we were ravenous after the two-hour boat ride. I was happy that the place showed distinct improvement since I last went there a year ago. There was a script they now had as we went through the forest trail to the falls. It was easy now to go to the falls up to the fourth level because of the railings and additional steps. For the urban crowd, jumping from a stone ledge to clear sparkling water below was a real treat. Since those that jumped got extra points... eventually one very courageous Miss Earth Ecotourism who didn’t even know how to swim decided to jump!!!  It was just arranged that the moment she jumped there were two swimmers who would make sure she would be led to safety. She did this several times. Brave!

 

Click this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8E2_obNOt-k&feature=youtu.be or type “Miss Earth Philippines Ecotourism 2014 jumps in Lambingan Falls” to watch.  Note the two male swimmers that go forward the moment she jumps. It is so amusing!

After that we went to Magdiwang Beach where beach games were again played before dinner. Feeling the sea and the pristine-ness of the place just as the sunset was a treat on its own.

 

Dinner was festive as we sang, danced – joy filled the air.  The next day would be even more packed.

Our first stop was Dagubdob Falls where there was a scavenger hunt – and again all these waterfalls. Sibuyan is the world’s densest forest so it is not a surprise that there are 38 waterfalls that dot the island – all unique in their breathtaking majesty. We climbed up to the fourth level – and jumped our way down. Fun!!

After meeting beneath the canopy of a thousand-year old tree – while winners were announced we trooped to Bila Bila Falls. In our post mortem – the unanimous feedback was that Bila Bila Falls should be first the next time. It is a one-hour trek to the fourth level… The trek is something else. I even stopped at several stops – feeling the majesty of the surroundings and asked them to spread their arms – and go wooooooooow! Just so that they could feeeeel the splendour. What a healing respite from city life.

Bila Bila, if developed well, can even be a whole day affair. It has so much bio diversity – the islanders are not even aware of it. I am looking forward to the visit of the California Academy of Arts and Sciences – as they agreed to help us assess the biodiversity there. The whole trip could be an educational cum fun adventure that could be offered to schools.

In the afternoon we went to Cajidiocan where we biked! In the sunset, no pollution, no cars… just sea on one side, Mt. Guiting Guiting in the horizon. Wow!

The evening saw the mayor hosting a dinner for us.

I had to rush back by chopper for a meeting but I was told the trip back on the roro was just as much fun. They played Taboo, and card games.

The unanimous take was in the level of nine nearing the tens. We had a post mortem afterwards and got ideas on how to improve the trip.... for the young and adventurous, for the young in spirit – this is the trip to go to.

We had a lot of fun. Click this link to watch our funny video plugging Sports Unlimited: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jopZw0ZbssQ&feature=youtu.be or type “Watch Sports Unlimited”.

Let me also share with you this video of Bantay Bata employees’ visit in Sibuyan Island last May 13-16, 2014: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Exk4rrsGaY&feature=youtu.be or type “Sibuyan Island with Bantay Bata”.

The money goes to the community. All of us were enamored with the bamboo straws they offered and feel it can be offered and even sold in Manila because it is reusable and so much more environmental than paper straws. It also looks quite pretty. We are looking at them producing honey, taro chips..... But the hot seller here will be their water. I already got water samples and will have it tested in the lab. Imagine Water from the world’s densest forest! And I will maneuver it so that the community is benefitted. There is a bright bright future for this small island of 59,000 people – a promise for them – and a direction for our country to go.

Those interested in bringing groups to this trip – please call Rajah Travel at +632 894 0886 or email us at green.initiative.ph@gmail.com. If you can get together groups of minimum of twenty, we can employ facilitation and tour guiding services for you. Let us know… We can orient and model the tour to your liking.

This is a link of the second group visit to Sibuyan with Bantay Bata. This is the link of the third group with Miss Earth to watch Sports Unli.

I can be reached at regina_lopez@abs-cbn.com.

April 2014

SUKY AND HER TREE – SOPHIA
By: Gina Lopez

Suky is a very dear friend. We share the same passion for the environment. Though we went to the same school, Assumption – I was in San Lorenzo and she was in Herran, and a year older. Interestingly our paths never met … until 2007 and not even in the Philippines – in Monaco, where I was supposed to receive a donation for Bantay Bata.

Back To Suky. She is such an environmentalist. She feels pain when ANY tree is cut. Her constant complaint is the road widening that is currently being done – even at the cost of cutting hundred year old trees. “Why?!!” Suky says, “Why is the road more important than the tree?! “She cries...

In her mind, the tree is sooo much more important than the road. This is the data she sent me from the website called Tree People (www.treepeople.org):

Top 22 Benefits of Trees
Here are 22 of the best reasons to plant and care for trees:

1) Trees combat the greenhouse effect.
2) Trees clean the air.
3) Trees provide oxygen.
4) Trees cool the streets and the city.
5) Trees conserve energy.
6) Trees save water.
7) Trees help prevent water pollution.
8) Trees help prevent soil erosion.
9) Trees shield children from ultra-violet rays by about 50%!
10) Trees provide food.
11) Trees heal. Patients with views of trees out their window have been found to heal faster and with much less complications!
12) Trees reduce violence. It has been found that houses with no nearby trees tend to have more violence. As well houses with green landscape tend to have more harmony. Wow.
13) Trees mark the seasons.
14) Trees create economic opportunities.
15) Trees are teachers and playmates.
16) Trees bring diverse groups of people together. Tree-planting sessions are excellent opportunities for bonding and community involvement.
17) Trees add unity. Trees as landmarks can give a neighborhood a new identity. I grew up in Forbes Park – an ultra Class A subdivision. My childhood is filled with memories of biking peacefully along the road. I was so happy. It was like a bubble. When I look back at it now – what makes Forbes Park so special are the trees! There are huge narra and molave and hardwood trees that outline BOTH sides of the streets. It makes one's spirit feel at home. This is why in all my community projects my insistence is to make it like Forbes Park. I had such a happy childhood there.
18) Trees provide a canopy and habitat for wildlife.
19) Trees provide aesthetics to an otherwise cement jungle.
20) Trees provide wood.
21) Trees increase property values.
22) Trees increase business traffic. Business Districts tend to have more trees - and seem to create an appealing environment for business.

Visit the website to read the full explanation of each benefit.

A study from the University of Calcutta showed that a 50-year old tree has a monetary value of $193,250! Wow! That is approximately Php9 Million. Here is the breakdown:

$62,000 (P3 Million)- oxygen and air & soil pollution control
$37,500 (Php1.8 Million) - water
$31,250 (Php1.5 Million)- organic fertilizer
$31,200 (Php1.5 Million) - recycles
$31,250 (Php1.5 Million) - habitat

And this is just the value of ONE old tree!

When Nature is not given due importance – to Suky that hurts! Big Time! Just seeing the garden in my house makes her happy. Pollution makes her sick. Trees eat up pollution, nourishes you physically and spiritually. There is so much pollution in Metro Manila that we can't afford to cut a single tree. In fact we should add more trees and green up the city, so people can stay healthy – she cries.

But the line which must never be crossed is the tree in front of her house in New Manila. She has lived there for decades. She grew up there. There is a mango tree in front of her house. It’s been there ever since she can remember. She even has a name for it: Sophia – after the daughter of her councilor friend who tried to protect the tree too.

Last month, there was a threat to Suky's tree! Oh my goodness... that did it! The barangay captain gave the permit for the tree to be cut despite objections from the residents. The barangay captain reasoned that there was a permit to cut it. Suky says without the permission of the residents directly involved, it is illegal to cut that tree. Heck - that tree has been there since she was a child!

I was teasing her... whatever anyone does – the line that should not be crossed - no matter what – is DO NOT CUT SUKY'S TREE. Don't even THINK about it! She is already sad about trees around getting cut – and then HER tree will be cut?! No way Jose!!! Like absolutely NO WAY!!!! So now Suky is suing the barangay captain because she means business.

During lunch she shared her feelings, “It’s not just my tree. It’s the consciousness that exists. Why is nature at the bottom of the totem pole?” Her neighbor who wanted the tree cut – could have easily moved his driveway. For heaven’s sake why did he build his driveway in front of a tree? That’s so impractical. And now he wants to cut Sophia – Suky's tree?!!! “No way Jose!!!!” – the "warrior" in Suky exclaims.

Anyway it’s illegal. One cannot cut trees without getting the permission of the people directly involved. That is the law. Thank God! When I talked to DENR Secretary Mon Paje, he agreed that the tree should not be cut. God bless him.

The lesson here – DO NOT CUT SUKY'S TREE. NEVER EVER EVER EVER CUT SOPHIA. EVER. EVER!!!!!!

So to all the tree cutters out there.... know that there is one line that must never be crossed: Suky's tree. You will wound a human being so deeply – and you really don’t want to do that in your life time. Run around the block, take a deep breath… look for dead wood to be cut.. BUT DONT CUT SUKY'S TREE!!!!!!! EVER EVER EVER........ Nothing is worth giving a human being that much pain. It just isn’t...

So there... If you want to talk to Suky you can reach her at jagscor@gmail.com. If you want to join forces with her because you have an endangered tree in your area, send her an email. You can join her in a movement for trees. If you can match her passion.... then together with her you will all be a force to reckon with…

Hmmmm if there are enough of you all, you might just succeeded in saving all the hundred-year old trees in Metro Manila that are in danger of being cut due to the thrust for road widening… When we put up the La Mesa Eco Park, we did the developments AROUND the trees. And if trees were sick – then I found out about "tree surgery", you put cement inside – strengthen it – and then it grows up sturdy again – much like human beings put a slant in their deteriorating joints.

When I read Suky the article – we both cracked up laughing but underneath all the teasing and the mirth, there is a serious message to be listened to.

She pointed out, “A tree can live without humans, but humans need the benefits that trees give.”

I can be reached at regina_lopez@abs-cbn.com.

March 2014

SUMMER OFFERINGS
By: Gina Lopez

PLEASE do not go out of the country this summer.
Not until you first explore the incredible beauty of this country -- and glow with satisfaction when you directly help the communities by your visit. Take a Green Initiative trip - or give it as a gift!

How did we start organizing our travel packages? By connecting the dots between some of our most exciting communities, we were able to develop fun places and activities that you might enjoy. Sites not only to play in -- but also to learn from -- and support with pride -- and compassionately call your own.

PUERTO PRINCESA in Palawan
Climb a 23 million year old limestone mountain, from within! Come face to face with stalagmites and stalactites and listen to the gonging voice of the mountain. Opened in 2008, this was our original ecotourism site. But today, Ugong Rock has 2 more zip lines, a brand new spa, an evolving Restaurant and a shop filled with gifts made by our communities.

The Ugong Rock community is our star player: I brim with pride when I talk about Ugong because they are not only successful materially but they have imbibed the essence of the Green Initiative by paying forward the original investments we made in them. They provide baon for the school children who volunteer in the site on weekends. When there was a typhoon, they helped in the fixing of the school. They donated a drum and lyre set to the elementary school. They even give Php30,000 to the barangay every month. They are constantly looking for ways to spread the benefits of their project as opposed to focusing on enriching themselves.

Another prime site which is evolving is the Iwahig River cruise. Our boatmen are in a class all their own -and I am convinced they are the main reason why Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) called it the Best Ecotourism Site in Asia in 2010. In the silence of the cruise they will open you to the knowledge of the stars and to the firefly as wonderful species.

We can not only chase Dolphins and Whales in the morning in Honda Bay but with a little luck, we can offer you the freshest sashimi ever. Wherever there are dolphins, there are tuna nearby since dolphins and tuna eat the same fish. In fact our ever-hopeful fishermen bring soy sauce, wasabi paste and chopsticks on board the boat.

A new site is visited on foot or on Carossa (carts drawn by carabao) to the Waterfalls in Narra. You will love the picturesque countryside, and then a stop for a swim, or kayaking, followed by lunch at Narra Falls.

If cultural enrichment is your cup of tea, you might want to try this. I haven’t been there but Cristina Tabora, my marketing manager, said that the World War II Museum links together the Spanish and American Eras. You will then visit the exact place where the American POWs escaped their Japanese captors by swimming out of the Spanish Garrison into the sea! Sounds exciting!

A recent visitor to the museum just posted on Trip Advisor: "I don't think you can properly understand Palawan unless you understand at least some of its WW2 History. In the museum I was not only fascinated to see some genuine, and perhaps very rare, relics from the Second World War, but also to read from a wealth of information on the subject. ... Reading about the Palawan Massacre was amazing. I think it is incredible that as many as 11 American POWs could actually have survived."

After a little history, how about some crafts? There are excellent grass weavers at Binatuan who craft hand bags, table placemats and baskets that are sold all over the world. Their clients Include international designers like Michael Kors – and you can buy the same from them at a very low price. You can also visit Lawisis, and see how they make some of their lotions and potions from indigenous herbs, leaves and flowers grown in their gardens.

SARANGANI
I had always heard that the South of the Philippines was beautiful. Now I am sure it is. The tour starts in Gen San – where one can visit the Gen San Fish Port – and literally see hundreds of huuuuge gamefish! It was there that I saw that the tuna called Yellow Fin – are called so because they really have bright yellow fins on their back. I saw how hallow stainless steel tubes are inserted into the tuna to extract flesh samples used to gauge the quality of the fish before pegging their price. I have never seen so many hundreds of large fish caught on line, like the prized Tuna and Marlin, at the same time. I even went into a fishing boat and interviewed the fishermen.

After that was an exciting trip to Maitum, where from a start high up on the river you can "tube" (which refers to the inner tube of a tire) downstream, surrounded by pristine majesty and swirling in the cleanest water ever. After the exhilarating ride on the river, you can swim in a natural rock pool, and eat indigenous food prepared by the T'boli's of La Union.

On the way to Maitum is a jewel of a museum where you see perfect replicas of the anthropomorphic jars from the Ayub Caves.

Another treat is Lamlifew, known as a Living Museum,where you can experience daily life in a B’laan Village. What I found most interesting was the food. They have 35 varieties of artisanal upland rice, lots of kamote (some are eaten only on special days, like birthdays or weddings), grilled fish and even frog. Plus, they had sweet seedless grapes! - in Mindanao?... my goodness...

And everyone will thrill at zip lining past the majestic Seven Falls at Lake Sebu in South Cotabato! Did you know these two rides are the highest zip lines in all of Asia? After the rides, you are ready for the most delicious fresh tilapia lunch at a restaurant right on the Lake.

SORSOGON
Bulusan Lake is a must. There are sedate walks or brisk jogs around the magnificent lake. My Pasig River Run organizer says elatedly that the Bulusan Lake Trail run is bar none, the best in Asia. It's a run through rice fields, forests, rivers, jump in the waterfalls... A total treat. On the way, you can visit the vast geo-thermal EDC park in Bacman, or do some island hopping in Matnog.

The Trail run is set for November. We should have other details ready for you if you call us.

MASBATE
Have you ever milked a cow? Or made soft cheese? Indulge the cowboy in you: you will ride horses on the open ranchlands, and learn to work the cows. You can ride bikes under the brilliant blue skies -- or sail double-outrigger bancas along the craggy coastline. I went to Jintutulo, this island in Balud – the largest coast line in Masbate. The whole island is aproned by white sand beach. There is a window during the summer when the sea is glassy calm.

Very soon we will take you on a sacred, silent sail through the caves and over jade and aquamarine waters. We will use noise-free engines, so that your heart can open to the spirit.


JOURNEY TO THE HEART OF THE COUNTRY
This is very new and open to adventurers of all ages... with active bodies, minds and spirits... but minimum age is 16… Just in time to kick off the Summer of ‘14! Bring the kids, and make it a Family Outing to remember. (We would like all the kids to join, but some of the physical activities are more suitable for the older ones …) The 3 Day/ 2 Night Journeys will sail (M - Th) May 5 -8, May 12 -15, May 19-22 and May 26 -29.

We have two exciting Journey experiences to choose from!


JOURNEY I: ROMBLON, May 5 -8 and May 19-22.
Take the time to discover the two islands of Romblon.

Romblon Town
You will board the comfortable 2GO vessel in Manila on May 5 at 3:30pm….and you will arrive in Romblon on May 6 at 5:30am. You will begin your adventure with a sunrise breakfast at the Romblon Deli on the colorful waterfront of Romblon Town. After a full morning of exploration that will include the only marble quarries and studios in the country, as well as a look at the Cathedral, Forts and sailing communities of Romblon, we’ll grab lunch before continuing on to Sibuyan.

Sibuyan: a celebration of Bio-Diversity
The island of Sibuyan is dominated by Mt. Guiting Guiting – which is home to the world's densest forest. Not just Asia’s, but the whole world! You will start your climb with a traditional Mangyan forest blessing. You will trek our newly-carved trails, and do a Scavenger Hunt amongst some of the most magnificent flora and fauna anywhere… You will also have a chance to sight some of the most beautiful birds ever.

Clamber over Dagubdub Falls (a cascade of 35 pristine waterfalls.) Here you will swim under the falls or in the pristine pools, learn some neat Survivor skills… and eat the delicious rice cakes and bananas prepared by the local communities.

Maybe you might like to bike around a bit and enjoy a picnic lunch after a zip line ride over the Cantingas River.

After a full day, you will be more than ready for a good night’s sleep.

JOURNEY II: MINDORO ( May 12 -15 and May 26-29)
If you have already been to Romblon, then you will love a little face time with the garden island of Mindoro.

On May 5 you will sail from Batangas into Calapan. You will visit the Mangyan Heritage Center and learn about the fascinating lifestyle of an IP tribe that is known for its own language and poetry. You will also see how they weave cloth and work beads into jewelry. You can dance with them, or see how they work their communal vegetable gardens.

After, you will continue on to San Teodoro, where a lot of active options wait for you on the Ariguy River.  Some of you will climb to Aras Cave, others to Tukuran Falls. … guided always on the well -marked nature trails. We will all enjoy a communal “boodle” meal prepared by the locals and continue on to Pinamalayan, where you will settle in for the evening.

On Day 2, you will head out to Maestro de Campo, and enjoy all the joys of this paradise island.
Maestro de Campo, aka Sibales, is actually an island of Romblon. This is the beautiful “new secret” in our portfolio – an island aproned with soft sand, and blue seas…. And waters filled with fish and turtles that are sure to delight you. You will be able to indulge in water sports like kayaking, or snorkeling among delightful aquaria fish in this natural sanctuary.

At the end of the day, you will return to Pinamalayan where a bonfire dinner on the beach will allow us all to sit about and trade stories. In the morning of Day 3, we will have a chance to swim and eat breakfast before returning to Manila.


SO BOOK NOW!
Just choose the journey you want to experience. Journey I or II costs Php8,000 per passenger inclusive of sea and land transportation, accommodation, food and refreshments, entrance fees, permits, registrations, honoraria for guides and travel kit.

If you want to go on the above tours with us, call Rajah Travel at +632 894 0886, or call Mari-An Santos from Green Initiative at +63 927 643 4809.

If our dates are not within your convenience, you may want to go on your own. Below is the travel schedule of 2GO, the Philippines’ largest shipping company:

Manila to Romblon (Monday) – 3:30PM
Romblon to Manila (Thursday) – 11:30AM

Romblon to Masbate, Ormoc and Cebu (Tuesday) – 6:30AM

For those leaving Cebu, departures are every Wednesday, 8:30 am; Ormoc to Romblon every Wednesday, 3:30 pm and Masbate to Romblon every Thursday, 2:30am.

I have been in a 2GO ship. It is very comfortable and even includes state rooms with their own bathroom and toilet. There is a café, a lobby lounge, an open air bar and deck space to experience nature and the sea which makes the travel even more enjoyable.

You may call 2GO’s hotline +632 528-7000 or email at info@2go.com.ph . Visit www.2go.com.ph for more details.

Most of us have no clear idea about the majesty of our country. Sad. So what happens is that the people that live surrounded by majesty continue to be poor. It is critically essential especially for "city" people, especially for the youth to KNOW and experience their country. It’s who we are – Filipinos. Doing this will enrich our souls, and give the communities we want to help hope – and a realization of just how fortunate they are and that if they take care of it, their very bright future is in foreseeable horizon.

Let us join hearts and bring our country to the future it deserves.

I can be reached at regina_lopez@abs-cbn.com.

February 2014

G Stuff Blooming... Learning how to do business
By: Gina Lopez

I've never had to do business – although I do remember selling granola and newspapers when I was a missionary in Ananda Marga. I used to cringe when upon coming back to the country; people would remind me when I would go to them in slippers selling granola or vegetables.

Now almost forty years later it feels like another life. Business Phase Two is my going into G Stuff. It’s exciting because I am knowing about all these products I would love the public to have. For example, through my friend Grace, I met this couple who do these amazing low carb treats: no white sugar – they use stevia, no white flour (they use almond flour) and gluten free. Both went on a low carb diet and claim to have lost a lot weight (she – 35 pounds and he – 50!) Because they did not want to deprive themselves, they started baking these amazing treats which are now available at G Stuff.

The relocatees of the Pasig River are now growing ducks. And they are laying 70 eggs a day! These are organic and free range. I ask the relocatees to sing to the ducks. Duck eggs are so much healthier than chicken eggs. It has twice the nutritional value of chicken eggs and can stay fresh longer due to thicker shell, not to mention that it has quality protein that boosts the immune system and makes the skin healthy. One doctor told me that if I eat 6 duck egg whites daily, for two months, I can cure my osteoporosis. Duck eggs are so much richer in calcium and omega 3. It is also known as an alkaline-producing food, alkaline is known to treat cancer cells. Well I am on my first month… Let’s see.

Also coming up in G Stuff is Sparitual. It’s not local. But I love the feel of the product. They have the best nail polish, the best nail polish remover and now the Step 1 to 3 which promises to hold nail polish for over a week without chipping. I love the fact that they source the ingredients with reverence.

My good friend Dinky Hementera of Plantex is now making things just for G Stuff. She has this all in one lotion which is multipurpose. It can be diluted 1 is to 50 or 200! It can be used to take out ANY odor in the house. My help have now used it for cleaning. I even use it to bathe my dog and he comes out smelling really good. I use the solution for my septic tank. It is organic – and comes bananas. G Stuff will also soon have detergent – the water of which can be used to water the plants! Isn’t that great? I will ask the people in the esteros to do their laundry with it – so that even if they throw their laundry water in the estero, it won’t kill the eco system. It can be used as multipurpose cleaner, odor eliminator, disinfectant, insect repellant, compost activator, waste water treatment solution, and can even be an excellent organic alternative to chlorine on tap water.

The mother of Derek Ramsay has these amazing soaps that come from banana, rose and guava. She is over senior and has very good skin. She swears by the banana cream which I have begun to use daily and I really like it.

Soon G Stuff will be offering Keffir .. I never even knew what it was until I tried it. It is more potent than yoghurt. Whatever – when I started using it, my stomach got a real cleanse. So I am sold on the product.

G Stuff Feta cheese – it’s the best I have EVER tasted – like the best!!! The right kind of sour – I love the feel of it. If you go to the store, you HAVE to try it. Every foodie I know agrees with me.

I love it – offering products which will help people live better lives – makes me happy. I am still operating at a net loss but I am doing really well. I am told. We will soon be opening in Trinoma and eventually in Alabang by April. People keep asking about the products. What makes me happy is when they are able to feel a difference in their lives.

I once asked my meditation teacher – what is his advice in doing business well. He said: Business is not just about making money. It’s about serving the customer. When I was a child, I remember distinctly my mother telling me, “Your Lolo spends money. He gives it away. He believes the value of money is in its use.” That statement made an impact to my pre-adolescent mind. Half a century later I can still remember it.

We can’t bring money with us when we leave the world. The value of money lies in its use... Money is only as good as the good it brings. If you are reading this column in the morning, come to Rockwell Power Plant Mall by 2 PM at the South Wing area, near Marks and Spencer... We are presenting the new products at the lobby. You can try some of the stuff. I will be there to answer questions...

It’s Valentines, the month of love. Here is a G Love invitation to all of you...

I can be reached at regina_lopez@abs-cbn.com.

January 2013

Surprise at 60!
By: Gina Lopez

When I rushed into the building for the last General Assembly for 2013 I got my things from my office and then hurriedly aimed for the conference room on the fifth floor. I was surprised by employees on each floor singing - giving me red and white roses… It was beautiful! Each floor sang a song I liked. On the top floor when they sang I believe I can fly - I felt a surge of emotion - Feeling the overwhelming love gushing at me.

They had prepared a really funny AVP. I was moved. During the family get together for Christmas, we were in Coron, and I had my birthday dinner on an island. The people came and sang... it was beautiful to be in an island, celebrating my birthday with family.

I thought that was it. So when my brother, Gabby, told me that he wants to have a black tie dog party on Jan. 8 - I truly believed him. Our dogs come from the same liter. Last year we had a dog party, complete with games and party favors... it was a lot of fun. I only wondered why the dog party would be at night. He said its because that that's the only time the entertainers are available.

Jan. 7 I get a text that no owners will be allowed in the first half of the dog party from 7 to 8. Only Jojo Isorena - the dog trainer would be allowed. Even that I could rationalize because I presumed the trainer wanted to establish his authority over the dogs.

What didn't make sense to me was when my sister, Berta, called me up the day before and said that Gabby wanted to take my mother out to dinner so I should be dressed. (huh?) Since when did we have to be dressed if it was just family. I figured maybe Gabby wanted something ritzy for Mom's last dinner before she headed back to San Francisco. I dutifully looked for an old but reasonably dressy attire from my closet. The other thing that didn't make sense to me was the timing. 7 to 8 was Jojo's time with the dogs. Dinner was at 8:30 - so the dog party would be only half an hour?

Why rent the whole Rockwell tent for a half hour dog party? Berta was saying, oh the dogs are just going to be so tired… maybe we can even come earlier.... I was so super busy that day - things didn't sink in. I had so many greetings that day - and I kept wondering why is everyone greeting me – it’s not my birthday. Maybe there is a mistake on the internet - I didn't even have the time to call the people greeting to ask why they are greeting me when it’s not my birthday?

I did wonder why Tina Palma said she was going to a dog party. Tina doesn't even have a dog! My schedule was so packed - I didn't even have time to dwell on the things that didn't make sense. I did call the house to make sure that Drake (my dog) would be in the tent on time. I was a bit surprised that my sons agreed to go to the dog party at night ... and there were classes the next day....

When I arrived in the tent - I was wondering why the place was lit and there were tables in the entrance.Is this a new set up for a dog party? Must be really ritzy. Gabby greeted me visibly irked and in angst because he said Drake and Diesel fought again and we really need to do something about it. This time it was reallllly bad! Oh dear. I felt... He said: You should see what they did. I imagined the place in shreds.. and thought oh dear... oh dear....

When I enter the room - SURPRISE !!!!

I was in a daze.. soo many people.. that I hadn’t seen in ages. Classmates relatives, friends... It was unreal...

This was done to me on my 16th birthday. I had seen the tables and chairs in the pelota court ... but I thought it was for a party for the help... and then it turned out all my friends were there, a band... I was really surprised!

Sometimes life is good, and sometimes life is realllllly good!!! Well this life i am so completely blessed I can’t even begin to measure.

In my talk I expressed when I was growing up I felt like I was in a cocoon of love and affection. The world was a bed of roses... the only pain being crushes, teenage frustrations, insecurities...

Now at sixty, whilst I try to make a difference; I still feel I am in a cocoon of love and affection. I really cannot ask for more...

The only thing I wish is that I be worthy of all that God has bestowed upon me. If I can make a big difference in the country, then it will all have been worth it.

I can be reached at regina_lopez@abs-cbn.com

 

Note: Photos were posted by friends on Facebook.

November 3, 2013 

Because the healthy me, loves G…G STUFF opens at Power Plant Mall
By: Ana Junio

Staunch environmentalist Gina Lopez recently launched her first ever store – G Stuff, in Rockwell, Power Plant Mall.

G Stuff is the product of Lopez’s concept of helping the communities while saving the environment and letting the people from the metropolis experience the beauty of using products from the fine ingredients of nature.

“This is such an amazingly beautiful country of 7,000 islands. But unfortunately, the people in most of our islands are poor. G Stuff is an effort to get these people out of poverty,” Lopez articulated.

G Stuff contains products with natural ingredients from identified ecotourism areas. Its name speaks for its advocacy as G stands for so many things: G is green because it’s good for the environment. G is good for the community – 100% of the profits will help sustain their livelihood. G means gift because there will be flavorful and exciting array of products.

There is a line of virgin coconut oil products from Brooke’s Point, Palawan – from skin care to room fragrances. There is also a premium VCO product with high content of ceramide that can remove wrinkles and can keep the skin young.

Pinoy boxing champ Manny Pacquiao is vital in the success of VCO business as he funded Php5 Million for the construction of manufacturing plant in Brooke’s Point to turn the abundant coconuts into refined VCO. The pili nuts and cacao come from communities in Sorsogon. The essential oils come from communities in Cagayan de Oro and Butuan. Dr. Rey Villoria’s healing crystals is also available. This salt works wonders because it addresses minor ailments.

Taken from the experience of Lopez – “I was supposed to have a root canal. I then found out that if I cut the nerve in my tooth, eventually the whole tooth will die and even the teeth around it. So I decided to try brushing my teeth with the healing crystals. Lo and behold - the pain disappeared.”

The healing crystals are being used in herbs and spices available in G Stuff store. Different kinds of pili recipes are also being offered.

Premium recipes by top chefs in the country are also being offered in the store. These are Chef Myrna Segismundo’s carabao cheese with pili nut and cherry tomato marmalade; Chef Gilbert Pangilinan’s red onion & Palawan and wafu dressings and; Chef Him Uy’s pili trail mix. There will be upcoming recipes from Sandy Daza, Glenda Barretto, Jessie Sincioco and Robby Goco.

All the recipes are guaranteed free of chemicals, preservatives, white sugar and white flour.

Gina Lopez invites everyone to visit G Stuff store located at 3rd floor of the Power Plant Mall. The chances of uplifting the lives of communities become more and more possible for every purchase.

“Every time you buy from G Stuff, you are integrating your energies with us, as we form this beautiful web of life, which will make this country a much better place to live in. So buy from G Stuff all the time. It’s good for you. It’s good for the country. It’s good for the community. It’s good for everything,” she enthused.

Like the Facebook page http://facebook.com/gstuffph to know more about G Stuff.

 

July 03, 2013 

Health
By: Gina Lopez

I like writing articles on health because it is such an important part of living. Top of the line this time is Bowen Therapy.

My son had been suffering from a dull persistent headache for three months. The timing of him having this just as he was about to start school was not good at all so frantically I went everywhere. I even went to a conventional doctor just to find out if maybe it was his sinuses. I even agreed to a drug test even though I was totally sure he was not taking any drugs.

Finally the therapy that made the difference was Bowen Therapy. This is a very non-invasive technique of touching key body parts in a certain way in the principle that given a little prodding the body can heal itself.

Whatever, if it works, it works. For my son Roberto, this treatment worked. The initial treatment was given by Rita Hart – a visiting expert from Australia. She comes once a year to give training. When she left Vita Clave, a Filipina who she has trained took over. She came for three Sundays and then said that he needs to rest for two to three weeks. Let the body heal. I am just relieved that his complaints have stopped and he is feeling SO much better. She charges Php1,500 a home visit but you need to give her money for transportation. Since she lives in Quezon City, what I do is have my car pick her up and bring her home. Vita has also done work with the children of Bantay Bata with visible success. For children with most severe cases of physical abuse, Bowen Therapy has helped relax muscles that have “frozen” from trauma, thus, the net effect is the children become more erect and more aligned.

Even my staff from Bantay Bata has tried Bowen. The first effect is it makes you sleepy. A painful lump was removed on the nape of Girlie Aragon, Deputy Director of Bantay Bata through this therapy. It had been bothering her for a long time and no massage had been able to address the discomfort.

You may call Vita through her number, 0919244880, if you are interested to try this therapy.

Health Principles I abide by:
1. I am really careful about what I put in my body. I am not going to live forever and I do not want to be sick by the time I go. I want to live a productive life even until D day. The body is a mechanism – it is key that we are discerning about what we put inside it. As a rule I keep away from white sugar (gives a "kick" then makes me sleepy), white flour (pasty consistency really bad for the digestive system), gluten (it gives me mucous). I make it a point to eat only organic or natural. The idea of putting pesticides and other chemicals inside of me doesn’t make sense. I take mostly fruits and vegetables – and even that - I make sure my cook has soaked in a solution to take out any chemicals, if there are. When I eat out with my kids the rules have to flex a little since I have no control over the kind of veggies a restaurant serves. Even the method of cooking is important to me. I do not like over cooked food. Lightly cooked is always better. Once my cook boiled the broccoli in water and she threw the water away! I told her, “Ming! Tinatapon mo lahat ng lakas – ang nutrients!” [You are throwing away all the nutrients!] I prefer grilled foods. In spite of all these "rules" I actually eat well. I like tasty foods. I also eat yoghurt twice daily for my calcium needs.

2. In terms of medication, I shy away from pharmaceuticals. I just recently had a procedure where the doctor insisted on antibiotics. I told him not to worry. I will take natural antibiotics. What I have been doing for over a decade is taking mega doses of Vitamin C (6,000 mg or more). One urinates it out anyway so it can never be harmful. I take garlinys – or fresh garlic will also do. I take echinacea and olive stone extract. Whatever is in the bottle (which is for maintenance) I double or triple it since it is for therapeutic purposes. If it works it works. In the past fifteen years, I can only remember getting a fever once, about 7 years ago, and it only lasted a day. It must be two decades now since any major illness which right now I can’t even remember. Mind you I go to estero regularly. I just don't get sick. I did the same regimen on my kids – and they don’t get sick like other kids do. So I know that I am doing the right thing.

3. I am currently doing hormonal treatment at Rapha Medical. It is plant-based which is why I agreed to the treatment. It’s normal that our hormones will get depleted with time, so why not reactivate the hormonal system with plant-based hormones? That makes sense to me. I also do regular chelation, which is a procedure of taking away the toxins from the system. It’s the toxins that age and causes disease. We live in a toxic environment so flushing out toxins from the system regularly makes a lot of sense.

4. In the line of detoxification I do a lemonade fast twice a year. This is a procedure of just taking lemon, organic Grade B maple syrup, and cayenne pepper ONLY. It’s 2 tbsp of maple syrup, 2 tbsp of maple syrup a dash of cayenne pepper in 8 oz of water. The prescription is ten days. It’s the best! Invariably I feel a lot of energy during the fast. It feels so good to be "clean"! I usually do this after the Christmas break (after heavy duty eating) and in the middle of the year.

5. Exercise. This should be a critical component of one's regular schedule. Otherwise the body gets lethargic - and slowly degenerates. Its’ also good for will power – and if it is done in nature so much better.

6. Excursions into nature is vital for health. Since I have a busy schedule what I have done is surrounded myself with as much nature as I can. I told my landscaper I want to live in a forest. So I have a garden on every floor. My bedroom is surrounded by plants. I have no walls. My meditation room is like I am in the middle of a forest. Even my boundary wall is a vertical garden. Greenery is so very healing. Plants exhale oxygen which is good for our health. It feels good.

7. Lastly and to me the most important is my meditation. I do NOT leave the house without starting the day right. The more access and communication we have with Divine Energies the better. What is also helping me now is that I have crystals everywhere in the house. It has created an energetic field I can rest on. Meditation is so important otherwise we get stuck in our mind. In fact more often than not, the onset of meditation is unwinding from thoughts that generally habituate the mind. Settling this and getting glimpses of what is beyond is very good exercise. Just like we exercise our physical bodies, this is exercise for our subtle bodies. The effort to go beyond - get infusions of light and love from above is my regular, non negotiable staple.

We have this life. And it isn't easy. In fact it can be complicated, especially if we are complicated. The challenge is to be able to navigate it – with your higher forces intact and winning major "battles" every step of the way. It can be done. We just need to have a game plan for life. A vision of where we want to go, who we want to be, and an indefatigable optimism that things will get better – even if it doesn’t seem that way sometimes. It’s how we take life that determines our reality. So don’t beat yourself on the head. Everyone makes mistakes. We look ahead. We move forward. We learn – and learn – and learn every step of the way. Not just in our mind – but let our spirit learn how to move forward.

Remember this. You are SO not alone. There are higher forces guiding us EVERY step of the way. Like EVERY step of the way. If you are still – and then open your heart and soul during your silent moments ... just open up and in your vulnerability – RECEIVE – you might be pleasantly surprised at the healing and strengthening energy that comes in.

Life is good. We ride it. I can be reached at regina_lopez@abs-cbn.com.

 

Anti-Aging the Natural Way
By: Gina Lopez

A few months ago I put out an article on Florida. One of the people that enthusiastically emailed me was a doctor Cris Enriquez. He was elated because the picture I had put of Florida had a picture of a condominium in which he lived. He also said in his email that he had a clinic and was into natural based anti- aging.

Intrigued I called him up and ended up visiting his clinic on the 5th floor of Greenbelt 5. It's just beside this multi-awarded Eye Brow place - which my sister had been raving about. I ended up going to the eye brow place, and then found a really good salon (Studio Fix) nearby - owned by Ben Chan and managed by Alex Carbonnel. He does great hair dying. Interesting person. A philosophy major turned really good hair dresser....

Anyway back to health. At Rapha Medical Clinic I first did a series of tests. They have a machine called Ondomed that transmits electromagnetic frequencies and is able to assess on various levels the state of one's health. They took blood tests to assess my hormonal levels. I am turning senior this year so my hormonal levels were low, within range but low. He wanted to bring it up to youthful levels.

I decided to go for it: A two-month program wherein he assured me of vibrant health. What helped me make the decision was a call I made to Cory Quirino - who I had heard had done the program. Cory was a year ahead of me in high school. She has a radio program on DZMM. Our families were friends so I felt comfortable talking to her. She was effusive about the results. She said it addressed her mood swings and clarity of mind. She was effusive about his hormone replacement therapy. After making sure it was not animal hormones ( I don't like the idea of putting animal hormones in me), I went for it. Dr. Enriquez adds that his clinic is the only one using plant-based bio-identical hormones in the Philippines, which is effective with no known adverse or side effects.

Another factor in my decision was the doctor himself. When I asked him how old he was and he said over 70! - I was surprised! He didn't look it and more importantly he didn't FEEL it. I feel energy. The doctor felt totally healthy and upbeat. If you push for health procedures and you look sickly, it doesn't make for good marketing. Well this doctor makes for good marketing for whatever he is "pushing". In addition to that he has written several books and has won up to 7 awards from the American Medical Association!

Today is the finale of my two months coming here. It needed a real commitment to come here since I live and work in Quezon City, and Greenbelt seemed to me like the "other side of the world". The good news is that Dr. Enriquez will soon be setting up clinic in Quezon City as well - maybe somewhere in Banawe.

Two months. What has this been like? I go on this machine the Ondamed. I am quite healthy and full of energy - so the dramatic effects of machines are not easily felt on me because I am already well. However just before the beginning of the two month treatment, I had a bike accident and injured my right shoulder. I had to go to Florida for my son and the acupuncture at the hotel helped. However it still ached to the point of my not being able to sleep on my right side.

The Ondamed is amazing because now the pain is totally gone. I thought I would have to resign to this for the rest of my life. I am so pleased that I can function and sleep normally. The Ondamed has a slew of many other health benefits. It must work because to use it one has to reserve way ahead of time.

So I go on the Ondamed, and I also do Chelation. This is a process wherein through a drip all toxins are eradicated from the body. I have friends who do this regularly and they are strong in their support of the process. It was familiar terrain. What would happen is that I am so busy so the time in the clinic allowed me time to answer email, make my articles, plan, and even doze off which I probably needed. By the time the chelation was over I barely noticed it. The time just flies.

Dr. Enriquez also gave me testosterone and progesterone cream that had to be applied daily. I took cortisone pills and a capsule at night which led to very deep sleep.

I stuck to the regimen religiously. I figured if I am going to do something I might as well do it well.

I am pleased to let you know - that doing things well pays off. In the blood tests he showed me this afternoon, it seems like I am going to live 120 years! Meaning to say my hormonal levels are like that of a young person. Even more importantly I feel good. From a low of 60, my estradiol has zoomed to 298. My progesterone from 2 is now 25.10 (which is like that of a young person) and my testosterone is 1.4 - which is like a young person and I am way into post menopause. In other words, the regimen works!

I particularly like this doctor because of his bent on the natural processes. Instead of calcium he asked me to take yoghurt daily. I've added guyabano to my diet and I've found that together with yoghurt , it is very yummy!! He is also a strong advocate of celery, kamote and saba. For me taking things naturally makes lots of sense. Well if it works, it works... According to my blood tests, it works.


Me and Dr. Enriquez near the Ondamed in his clinic...

When I met him Dr. Enriquez gifted with me a book called Breakthrough by Suzanne Somers. It was on the New York Times Bestseller list. I resonate with the message of the book. In sum: The 8 steps to Wellness would probably sum up the health regimen bent of Rapha Medical Clinic.

1. Get Bio identical Hormone Replacement Therapy
2. Avoid chemicals and detoxify your body
3. Take nutrition seriously
4. Create a healthy GI tract
5. Avoid pharmaceuticals unless absolutely necessary
6. Supplement your diet
7. Exercise regularly
8. Get proper sleep.

My only comment to the above would be to add the importance of one's inner life. My experience in my life is that spirituality (one's inner life) has great health implications and vice versa. When one is healthy there is a direct effect on one's spirituality.

So if you are interested in aging gracefully, go to Greenbelt 5. Go to Rapha, pass by the Brow House right beside and on your way to the escalator make an appointment with Alex Carbonel.

Here are the contact details of Rapha Health Center: 09158232756 / 7573335. You may also email Dr. Cris Enriquez at dcris@raphahealth.ph

We have this life, lets live it well...

P.S. A fresh batch of green coconut vco has arrived in the office. This has been superb for my health. If you want some call Lea 09173162708 or email her at cattleya_victoria@abs-cbn.com. This is sososo good for health!! And the profit goes to the indigenous people of Palawan.

For more information email me at regina_lopez@abs-cbn.com.



WORLDBEX 2013

It’s been over a decade since Joseph Ang, Founder and Chairman of Worldbex Services International first had the ABS-CBN Foundation as the sole beneficiary of the 18th Philippine World Building and Construction Exposition – WORLDBEX 2013. It was a partnership that blossomed through the years. I’m excited for this year’s trade show, WORLDBEX has always been active in promoting sustainable construction efforts for the environment while putting on show the latest streak of eco friendly construction products that is highly certified to be green. There are so many activities lined up that even those who are not working in the building and construction industry could benefit on.

So, better get those minds ready for a well rounded and a multifaceted learning experience waiting for you this March 13-17 at the World Trade Center Manila and Philippine Trade Training Center.

Below is an excerpt from their press release:

Consistently loaded to the tip with inimitable highlights such as series of industry seminars, diverse galleries and pavilions, an all embracing product and technology display plus an interschool interior design competition, this year, Worldbex sets to give more as the expo takes another leap on its continuous pursuit of giving information through on the house interactive and simultaneous workshops and activities to be facilitated by design industry pros arranged in cooperation with the prestigious SoFA Design Institute and Wilcon Depot at the Philippine Trade Training Center.

Informative talks and symposiums about the current status and the latest issues of the Philippine Design Education and more will be arranged by the School of Fashion and the Arts or the SoFA Design Institute, as other exciting activities like safety proofing different home areas, basic tile cutting and flower arrangement techniques is set to be facilitated by Wilcon Depot. Other recognized industry personalities are also set to drop by and share their own slice of design expertise.

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