Rapha Valley

A few years ago, I wrote about visiting a parcel of land in Batangas with my parents and dreamed about the possibilities it presented. A recent visit to Rapha Valley, a small organic farm in Negros Occidental, gave me so much inspiration. The owner, Dr. Albert Jo, is a natural healing advocate and also believes in the philosophy of Hippocrates: "Let food be thy medicine." Everything he grows has some healing property. During the tour, he spoke about the anti-inflammatory benefits of yellow turmeric ginger as he plucked out a piece, broke it in half and passed it on to us to experience its texture and smell. He did the same thing with other plants: oregano, lemongrass, rosemary, asparagus, and many others. We went inside a greenhouse where he snipped a few edible flowers for us to taste. He showed us that it was possible to grow lettuce in bags and in bamboo stalks, even in very limited spaces. Ingredients for the lunch that was served after the tour were mostly harvested from his garden. "Always know where and how your food is grown. Better yet, grow it yourself," he advocated.

Santa Fe Resort

©Stella Kalaw

Marianne Villanueva invited me to Bacolod a few weeks ago. I took these photographs at the resort where she spent her summer vacations as a child. A relative who manages the place told us in passing that they were tearing down the entire building at the end of the month to make way for a new, more modern structure. I guess it was meant to be that I was there before it happened.