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Food is Thy Medicine and a Good Business

In this period of scarcity and extreme inequality, I felt guilty for indulging in lavish eating and dining outside our home in the past weeks. At the same time, my inner conscience tells me that I should observe abstinence and fasting in keeping with the season of Lent. I felt too privileged when, in the past days of the month, I partook in too many flavorful, rich foods at several events with much gusto! It should be the time for sacrifice and self-restraint!

The month of March is full-packed with special events at Mariners and in various organizations where I belong. And, at every event, food and eating are the most awaited moments to culminate every program. But the Lenten season is a huge part of Filipino traditions. Fasting and abstinence especially mark this once-a-year season when Christians join Christendom to make sacrifices at self-indulgence, like food, sex, and recreation. At age 68, sex and entertainment will not be much of a problem. But skipping food may be a problem for me. I learned to take food as more than a reason for sacrifice during Lent. I should never miss meals as I now value every health advocate’s favorite Hippocratic quote, “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

GERD and Advocacy for healthy food

I have gastroesophageal reflux disease, or what is called GERD. It is a condition linked to diet. Some foods and beverages can trigger or worsen symptoms of acid reflux. These acid reflux-triggering foods to avoid are fatty or fried, spicy, and acidic foods. First, I developed stomach ulcers; then, I acquired GERD in my college days because I regularly missed meals. I was used to spicy and oily foods combined with soda, instant 3-in-1 caffeine, and sugar-laden drinks. So, I fasted a lot from regular meals. The joke was it was always Lenten season for me most of the day.

In time, it took a heavy toll on my health. I paid regular visits to the hospital and spent a big deal on pharmaceutical medicines whose names I better forget now. That was in 2011, recurring in 2015 before the Pandemic. Being a workaholic has a vast personal and social cost. So, healthy food is a constant companion everywhere I go. It is the best medicine.

The events and the food

Food was a highlight of the 49th Foundation Day of Mariners on March 4. Mariners is known for its excellent culinary courses. That day was also the 64th birthday in heaven of our dear brother Boboy, whom we lost to senseless street crime. The 3-day celebration culminated with a dinner of green salad, noodles pasta, steamed Lapu- Lapu fish, and broiled chicken at the Mariners Naga quadrangle.

On March 8, International Women’s Day was an all-women cuisine at my friend Amy’s house with foods named after known women like Jacky, Glory, Leny, and Ate Guy, among others. At Green Earth, my husband and I loved the Kalabasa soup, Vegan Sisig, Afritada, and their new Kamote Fries with their delicious pasta sauce of avocado and herbs. The Green Ralph at the SM in Naga offered its popular Veggie Wrap and the 3.0 Veggie salad, which I savored with its yummy herbed sauce. Organic or non-GMO foods are indeed change-makers.

On March 15, the Camarines Sur Chamber of Commerce, with the provincial DTI, quickly organized a special dinner to welcome Secretary Fred Pascual of the Department of Trade and Industry, who joined President Marcos Jr at his first Kadiwa ng Pangulo event in Bicol the next day at Barangay Palestina in Pili, Camarines Sur. About 70 Chambermates partook of sumptuous Bicolano dishes prepared at the Soledad along Magsaysay Avenue: Pancit Bato, Adobong Natural, Ginataang Santol, Bicol Express. However, the exotic Baluco, a delicacy sourced from Sorsogon with its pen-shaped shell and juicy scallop-like meat cooked in coconut, was, to me, the stand-out.

March 20 was the 31st death anniversary of the Founder of the Mariners schools in Bicol, my late Dad. Our homegrown JaimEliza, named after the Mariners founders Jaime and Eliza, provided the food innovations like Vita Sisig, Pancit Lumpia, Creamy Laing, Sinantulan, Puso Gata, Bicol Express ala JaimEliza, Kadingga and the Pandesal Marinero. In the afternoon, the Women in Business of the CSCCI launch of its activities was an event I did not want to miss. Casa Rosa was far off from Naga City. I arrived late from the office but brought home some of its specialties for my husband to try. What amazed me was the tasty edible flower-veggie salad freshly picked from the garden. A big hit!

Yesterday, March 21, representatives of the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) central office led by OPRKM Chief Education Specialist Mayumi Belandres and Higher Education Development Fund Officer Diana Aguilar met the Bicol Social Enterprises Development Program team led by Dr. Cely Binoya with the proponents led by Mariners President Marilisa Ampuan, with CBSUA President Dr. Albert Naperi, Mariners Legazpi President Merle San Pedro and Tabang Bikol Movement Board Chair Evita Jimenez-Tuazon. We enjoyed the same tasty Vita Sisig, Steamed Lapu-Lapu and other JaimEliza delicacies at lunch.

Good Business

I love good food. Good food is healthy. Healthy are unprocessed foods without preservatives and chemical additives. I am glad to discover that in Bicol, more and more are getting into the food business of all kinds. It inspires me no end to know that women are at the forefront of this growing industry in Bicol and worldwide. The food industry is an important sector of the economy. The Pandemic almost killed it. Today, food-based social enterprises and MSMEs are on the rebound. They need more support. I like that food not only heals as medicine but can also be a lucrative business.


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