When I got back home from my Negros trip, I was amazed with the diversity of the experiences I had. I've been to quite a number of organic farms so far (the most this year thanks to the ATI-DAR, Agricultural Training Institute of the Philippine Department of Agriculture) and you would think that I'd get tired of all of it already. I learned something new though each time and got to see a different side of having or visiting a farm per location... A very good example below is our visit to the Rapha Valley Organic Farm of Dr. Albert Jo. I tasted the best asparagus of all time and started to think about the things I put in my mouth all these years. I think this was a turning point for me - that there could be another alternative to eating beef and steak only every day and it may be about time already. Haha.
They ushered us into this area. People would actually come to this farm for a few days of wellness retreat. We spent around an hour here listening to his stories about his change of lifestyle. At 56, Dr. Albert Jo was super energetic, enthusiastic and looked super healthy. It's hard to imagine that he used to have a rheumatic heart and asthma. He was a carnivore like me in his previous life with a history of diabetes in the family.
Oh, there were intriguing things like how he got his eyesight back to 20-20! with a simple recipe of 1/2 cup of kulitis (local spinach), this organic detox recipe which I tried at home and was so effective! and a lot about the things we eat and the advantages of eating fresh and raw food. He a fan of carrot, green juice, buko juice (has loric acid that can only be found in mother's milk), oregano and Chinese malunggay (he says nobody sprays malunggay coz it's very cheap). The topics ranged from burgers to corn syrup to softdrinks to milk to chips to fat to sugar to margarine to umami to apples to fish to hospitals and many more hahaha. He told us about camote (most "nutritious carbs" in the Philippines). He has this for breakfast every day with his crew (vs. white rice which is sugar so you get hungry easily after 3 hours). All I can say is - super eye-opener. Haha.
This is ripe langka (jackfruit) juice with carrot. Interesting combinations they come up with at farms... Haha.
Combinations like: The white one here is organic cashew herb cheese from Guimaras and soaked for 6 hours (to do away with uric acid) with Himalayan rock salt and rosemary. There's black rice puto in the plate, puto manapla and a bloodless (and meatless) pate from the carob plant....
"Let your food be your medicine. And take it fresh." I heard there are some hanging ube in this tunnel.. (wonder if I heard right haha)
Rapha Valley is situated near Kanlaon Volcano or Mt. Canlaon. Some parts of Negros use geothermal energy for electricity.
We started our 45-minute walk around the Rapha Valley Organic Farm
We went down through a narrow path while holding and smelling freshly picked organic bulbs (and eating leaves hahaha).
He introduced lettuce juice (lactucarium) as having an opium-like effect when soaked for 3 hours then pureed into juice.
And this, I'm super sure of it - is the BEST baby asparagus I've eaten in my life haha. Well, I don't normally like asparagus so I've only tasted a few. Anyway, this was freshly picked and Dr. Jo let us eat it right then and there after picking! He told us not to worry about uric acid and putting his plants in our mouths while walking. Haha.
This is sage. Dr. Jo told us about the leaves of carrots too filled with Vitamin K and tastes like parsley.
I had an intro to a bit more of turmeric here. There's Thai turmeric (luyang dilaw) one can juice and leave in the fridge overnight after that's believed to be good for uric acid and Alzheimer's.
I usually just pass by this flower or take a picture. I finally get to know it as lantan flower (believed to be anti-cancer), also known as baho-baho.
There's Italian oregano. I haven't acquired the taste for it yet - strong and spicy. I heard something about oregano being put in wounds.
We walked, stopped and ate our way through his farm. My mouth was full of different flavors. Hahaha.
Dr. Jo was looking for local turmeric this time. I'm not a very big fan of ginger or turmeric hahaha.
At the edge of his farm were these citronella plants. They would cut them if ever there's an infestation. Ingenious plan really =D
There were also attractants, repellants, Japanese lantern plants (which attract monarch butterflies), periwinkle and cat's whiskers along the path.
This sigarilyas (winged bean) goes well with gata and bagoong hehe. Dr. Jo convinced me to eat this raw with the anti-stress and anti-anxiety line hahaha.
There's so much more there I couldn't really catch up with some anymore and was holding them this way hahaha.
One thing I would not forget though is that he gave us culantro (Vietnamese cilantro) and it was the foulest thing ever hahaha. I stopped putting everything in my mouth after that...
Madre de agua if I am correct. My brain was on overdrive and the heat was not helping. Hahaha.
The next segment is about more flowers and our flowery lunch at the Rapha Valley ;) I'm just gonna breeze through them (coz there's so many pictures already!) hehe.
"The darker the flower, the higher the anti-oxidants." - Parang fruits hehe.
I liked the ambiance of the restaurant so much.
It's like I'm in Mongolia in my mind with that big tent setup! =D
"Let your food be your medicine." What a wonderful idea to think of organic and natural food this way.
I liked mixing both the pasta sauces...
Pure juice squash pie carrot cake with fermented bignay.
Lastly, as pabaon, Dr. Jo told us that an hour of deep tissue massage is equal to 4 hours of walking! Hahaha. Aghhh... - like the scarecrow below LOL. It's amazing what a few hours talking and walking around Rapha Valley with the Doctor can do hehe.
Dr. Albert Jo
Brgy. Kumaliskis, Don Salvador Benedicto, Negros Occidental 6105
To visit the different ATI-assisted projects (Organic Farming Learning Sites), you can drop by or ask the ATI Regional Training Center nearest you or inquire through:
982AGRI (982-2474) for Metro Manila calls
1-800-10-982AGRI (1-800-10-9822474) for provincial toll-free calls using PLDT landlines
For Smart and Talk & Text Subscribers, send a message to 391-DA (391-32).
For non-Smart Subscribers, send a message to 0920-946AGRI (0920-9462474).