Pocket of Wellness is more than just planting medicinal trees. It's about planting hope.

Group of women sitting on small chairs smiling and laughing Group of women sitting on small chairs attentively listening to a speaker that is not seen on camera

Painted with vibrant happy colors and filled with toys and kid-friendly furniture, daycare centers are usually a place where kids learn and play before they start primary school. But last 03 February 2018, on a very special day, more than 40 women seated on kiddie chairs in Brgy 157 Daycare Center, all eager to learn and discover the benefits of the edible and medicinal vertical garden that they planted last December 2017.

As part of the Pocket of Wellness project of HFI and United States Embassy Club (USEC) in Brgy. 157 Zone 16 in Pasay City, HFI, with the help of barangay local government of Brgy. 157 and volunteers from JZ Galvez Tan Health Club, facilitated a Medicinal Plants Preparation Workshop to equip the community members with knowledge about the medicinal properties of plants and trees in their Pocket of Wellness vertical garden as well as teach them various medicinal plant preparation techniques.

Dr. Jaime Z. Galvez Tan holding a turmeric on his right hand Dr Jaime Galvez Tan pounding a leaf of medicinal plant using a mortar to demonstrate making of poultice

Dr Jaime Z. Galvez Tan, Chairman of HFI and a well-known medicinal plant advocate, kicked off the workshop with fun and interactive discussions on medicinal properties of plants like Luya, Luyang Dilaw, Aloe Vera, Makabuhay, Balbas Pusa, Oregano, Sili, Pandan, Sambong, Tanglad, Tuba-tuba, and Takip Kohol—all of which are abundant in the Pocket of Wellness vertical garden. Dr Galvez Tan also demonstrated the process of making an alcohol tincture using medicinal plants that are rich in antibiotics such as garlic, turmeric, ginger, and onion.

One of the workshop participants, Ana Marie M. Sola, a barangay health worker, shared how she was surprised to learn that common plants growing from usual places have such medicinal values, “Di ko akalaing ang dami palang gamit ng mga halamang  akala ng karamihan ay ordinaryong damo lang. Sana ay mas mapangalagaan pa ang halamanan para lumaking malusog at mas yumabong ang mga tanim.” (I cannot believe that these plants which were oftentimes thought by many as ordinary grasses have medicinal uses. I hope that the vertical garden will be given enough care so that the plants will grow healthy and lush.) She gracefully added “Simula ngayon, susubukan kong uminom nang siling-labuyo para naman mabawasan ang aking bilbil.” (From now on, I will try to take in Siling-labuyo to reduce my belly fat [as discussed by Dr Galvez Tan].)

Rose Nartates dropping medicinal leaves in a bowl water in a stove to make a medicinal decoction Group of women looking at the speaker not seen on camera while holding different healthy spices

The youthful vibe of the workshop became stronger when Ms Rose Nartates, President of JZ Galvez Tan Health Club, energetically demonstrated medicinal plant preparation techniques such as infusion, decoction, and salad making. The workshop participants travelled back to the time when they were kids playing chef using leaves and plants around them.

Workshop participants, even those who admitted that they are not used to eating vegetables, were delighted to taste the infused Oregano leaves for healthy respiratory system, decocted Sambong, Pandan and Tanglad leaves for good urinary tract health, and Kangkong, Kamote, leaves, Malunggay, Sili leaves, and Saluyo leaves (KKMSS) salad or Ensalada Filipina, a healthy and nutritious salad with lots of vitamins, iron, amino acids, and calcium.

The workshop equipped and encouraged Brgy 157 to take care of their edible and medicinal vertical garden and enjoy all the health and wellness benefits it can bring upon them. To date, more than 600 native medicinal, flowering, and fruit-bearing plants and trees are stunningly landscaped to the 15-meter wide Pocket of Wellness.

Check out more photos of the workshop here.

Written by Angel Melody Legera; Edited by Dyan Geleen Tuble

 Health Futures Foundations, Inc.
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