Mallika Naguran checks in to The Farm, a wellness and preventative resort and spa in Batangas, Philippines that seeks to heal the spirit not just the body with holistic care and excellent vegan cuisine.
San Benito, 14 January 2011. When we think of healing, we often think of what the physical body needs to repair itself, with the aid of foreign chemicals or medicine. Natural healing goes beyond that.
The Farm's Dr Bardonado advocates vegan food for healthy living.
An Asian doctor trained in western medicine who now practices holistic healing draws his inspiration from ancient philosophies and traditions. “Natural healing means the healer is nature. This boils down to food as our father of Western medicine Hippocrates said, ‘Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food’,” says Dr Rounville N. Bardonado, the head of the medical team at The Farm, a prevention, healing and recovery resort in the Batangas province of the Phillipines.
“You are the architect of your body. God gave us a perfect body, with self-preservation mechanism to fight diseases,” the 40-year-old adds. However, with time, he is concerned that people have lost that preservation mechanism due to lifestyle, the kind of foods eaten and the surrounding pollution.
And the state of mind and emotion is important. “Greed, envy, sadness, worries and other negative emotions – these things eat us from the inside. We have to find peace and inner balance,” says the doctor, who advocates watching nature to get enlightenment and self-realisation.
Dr Bardonado was trained at University of the East Ramon Magsasay Medical Center in the Philippines. He began working as a general physician in 1996 in Manila City and then later in the Middle East, tackling emergency cases at a hospital. Although he studied herbal medicine in school, it was not as convincing as his encounter with patients in his new clinic at The Farm. Here, a new world of holistic medical care opened up before him, with the help of nature.
Breakfast! Fresh fruit served in re-used coconut shell with yogurt and mango sauces.
“I told myself as I took on the job at The Farm in 2004 that I’ll give myself a few weeks to decide if I would stay or go, depending on the results. I was amazed at the recovery of some guests based on the natural treatments administered here, so I stayed,” he grins, with a sparkle in his eye.
In fact, the whole philosophy of holistic well-being made so much sense that Dr Bardonado gradually gave up drinking, smoking, became a vegetarian, spent more time with his family with two young children, and took up tai-chi, and qigong to keep fit.
At The Farm in Batangas province of the Philippines, western medicine complements age-old Asian practices such as Ayurveda, an ancient healing movement originating from India.
Dr Bardonado and his team of doctors and nurses administer personalised programs to guests with specific health issues that include vegan food supplement like wheat grass shots, exercise likes brisk walk and yoga, meditation, and cleansing treatment of the kidney, liver and gut. Vegan food grown organically is served at The Farm, mostly raw and deliciously prepared.
The Farm's organically grown vegetables lend more crunch to healthy living.
But health is not limited to the physical. “Holistic involves the healing of the mind, body and spirit,” smiles Dr Bardonado. “In treating the physical body, you touch the mental and spiritual. That’s the basis of holistic care.”
“We tell our guests, you are the architect of your own health.” Guests return home not just with memories of feeling better after having stayed at The Farm, but with new-found wisdom of how to eat right and live healthier.
The Farm sees varied guests, from weekend trippers reveling in the delectable vegan cuisine to health sufferers. An obese woman in her 40s suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with laboured breathing and walking difficulty.
Pumpkin, nuts and brown rice for complete vegan meal. Foods at The Farm are either prepared raw or partially cooked to retain nutrients.
The heavy smoker had led a stressful lifestyle back in India and flew into the Philippines to get help. After staying at The Farm for a month, she shed kilos with the weight-loss and cleansing programme, improved her breathing with yoga exercises, walked further than before and learnt how to eat right and live a balanced lifestyle for optimal health.
Drinking virgin coconut oil is a medical boost, says the doctor, who prescribes a shot of this oil to patients daily. “It cleanses from the mouth to the anus, killing parasites, viruses, fungi and bacteria,” says Dr Bardonado. Water from young coconut or buko juice has vitamins and enzymes that nourish the body, with even anti-wrinkle properties when applied externally, he claims.
Other detox programmes on doctor’s orders, depending on patient conditions, include nutritional microscopy, colon hydrotherapy, wheatgrass infusion therapy, Digital Meridian Diagnostic System (DMS), kidney cleansing, liver cleansing, body salt bath and also massages.
Dr Bardonado recommends qigong and yoga to keep inner organs in shape, not just muscles.
“Massages are to optimize the flow of chi to the body and subsequently harmonize it.” Chi in Chinese medicine or prana in Indian medical traditions refer to life force within us beyond the physical. It is to re-connect ourselves to the “inner essence” and develop the ability to obtain healing energies through nature.
It is believed that poor health conditions can be attributed to this lack of harmony. A person desiring love and affection and not getting it may store more sugar in the body for the “sweetness” the body craves, eventually developing diabetes. Fat, source of warmth and protection in the body, can be gained excessively if the person lacks the warmth of loved ones.
“Cancer also has an emotional element too. People who are weaker or stressed with low immunity are more prone to getting cancer,” says the doctor, who believes that eating raw health foods boost the body’s immunity system, helping even with regression. The Farm provides most of the vegan foods farmed in organic ways.
Bringing the patient back to optimal health beyond identifying and dealing with the root cause of the disease is the end goal of Dr Bardonado and his team of medical professionals at The Farm. “Sleep is the number one rejuvenator. After a good night sleep, try to stretch in the morning and do some exercises or yoga to stimulate your blood flow and optimize the flow of chi,” advises the healing doctor.
Photography by Mallika Naguran