FOLKS STRESSED-OUT FROM CITY LIFE VISIT Palawan, are drawn back and settle there for many reasons, among them a relaxed but productive lifestyle, the promise of a forest in one?s backyard, or a beach right at the doorstep: A quality life on a shoestring budget and conveniences to boot.
Many come to Palawan bearing dreams which have died a-borning in the big city. Janino ?Jet? Sales is one of them. His handicraft business provided well but could not make up for the health problems that saddled his family with the effects of exposure to chemicals and preservatives of his products.
Sales gave that up when he settled in Sitio Iratag, Barangay Irawan in Puerto Princesa City. He named his place ?Lawiswis,? from the rustling that bamboo makes as the breeze blows, and put up his house, right into the greenery.
An architect by education, Sales built a house that reflects a serene integration with nature, from the open-air bath to the perceptive use of materials found in the forest. Everything gone into this house, except for some cement, are from his surroundings, nature transformed into comfortable living space.
Rivers and streams surround the place, mountains and hills stretch as far as the eye can see. The poultry and piggery business that he had planned could not fit in amid all that natural beauty. He was stumped but only for a while.
Lawiswis, he realized, is home to many herbs and plants which intrigued him as a child. Instead of playing with other children, he would be in nearby groves and gardens finding out about their uses.
This original passion for herbs and medicinal plants became a livelihood source for Sales. His initial soap creations from fruits and plants received enthusiastic response. The innate knowledge of plant properties have resulted in high-quality artisanal products?The Garden?s Secret ?neutraceuticals? which draw their healing, cleansing and beautifying from nature?s processes with minimum processing. Sales? ?laboratory? is a central focus of his home as is his kitchen where he loves to whip up delicacies.
The garden has yielded a wide variety of products. Apart from organic bar soaps which range from moisturizers, exfoliants and antibacterial aid, there is the Botanical Tea Oil made from coconut oil, guava, avocado and other herbs that firms up skin tissue, erases wrinkles and deeply moisturizes.
The Yellow Healer Balm is effective against insect bites, offsets fever and colds and helps against rheumatism, arthritis and muscle pain. There is a sampaguita hair moisturizer, a lip balm with atchuete, coral calcium for bone strengthening, toothpaste and many more.
These ?neutraceuticals? have become popular but the bestseller is Fluxin (flow toxin) which is made from neem (Azadhirecta indica exalcia), which is endemic to Palawan.
Elizabeth Jover Dama, from the Provincial Governor?s Office was diagnosed with Stage 2 cancer. The previous treatment for breast cancer at a hospital had failed, leaving her financially depleted. She began to take Fluxin in therapeutic doses under a six-month protocol and underwent a total change in diet: Nonmeat products and as much vegetables and fruits, especially in their raw, organic form.
Within three months of the treatment, the cancer cells had began to diminish, and her doctor had to declare her disease-free. Her white blood cell count is now normal reflecting a healthy immune system.
These days, many find their way to Lawiswis. Even tourist buses crowd his gate as he extols the malunggay (moringa), camote (sweet potato) tops, saluyot and another pièce de résistance, his tuba vinegar elixir.
He had gingivitis that was taking too long and too much antibiotics to heal. Tired of medication, he gargled the tuba vinegar and let the inflammation soak in the mixture. To his surprise, the inflammation began to subside and his gums eventually healed.
?Tuba vinegar is a disinfectant. People with cuts or starfish contamination simply pour it on for the healing but I did not realize it could cure a long drawn-out inflammation,? he said.
The healing properties of the tuba vinegar comes from its high potassium content which makes it a powerful tissue connector, Sales explains. Cell fragmentation caused by wounding is corrected as organ and skin tissues begin to reintegrate. Cells begin to regenerate.
The tuba vinegar is also a deodorizer. A few drops of tuba on the underarm neutralizes the odor-causing microbes. It is also an effective feminine wash for the same reason.
Tuba vinegar may be also used as a toilet cleanser and deodorizer. Spray it around, use it for wiping walls and the toilet bowl. Your comfort room will smell slightly sweetish. Use it, too, for your kitchen sink and work area. Sales sprays it around his laboratory to ensure that only friendly bacteria persists as he does his organic concoctions, The Garden?s Secret. Put a bit of this tuba vinegar in your laundry to disinfect your clothes, too.
Serious experimentation has led to the tuba vinegar-honey mix antacid effective and inexpensive. It is alkaline and helps settle the stomach rather than upset it and makes a refreshing pickup drink; just mix honey and tuba vinegar with an equal amount of water. A glass in the morning and before going to bed is a welcome relief for stomach bloating and acidity as it deals with flatulence and burping.
Tuba vinegar flavors many dishes but it is also a preservative: Putting one-half teaspoon and a hint of turmeric in your rice delays decomposition. For raw food enthusiasts, tuba vinegar in the vegetable wash eliminates toxins and microbes.
These are tips even our ?lolas? (grandmothers) knew. Reviving these especially for those without access to mainstream medicine is part of his advocacy for healthy life ways. He teaches people how to maximize the resources in their own backyard.
?You don?t need imported products. What grows naturally in your area is the most effective solution. For instance, this craze about wheat grass is difficult to sustain because it requires additional inputs (read: expensive).?
Sales has come to terms with himself and the inner promptings sometimes known as dreams. He is amazed that what he concocts heals and makes people look better, become healthier. Though he constantly keeps abreast of the latest in naturopathic information, he draws from a source deeper within which also fuels his passion.
These and the bucolic Palawan life ensure that the garden will continue to share its secrets with Sales for some time.
(Agnes Prieto is a freelance writer who resides in Puerto Princesa City.)