David shares his experience  as one of our culinary and agricultural apprentice. If you’re interested, contact us:

My grandparents live in Ajax, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto. They met some Filipino friends there shortly after they moved there. They got to spend lots of time with them and their son, Jon. Jon just moved to the P.I. two months ago to work at an organic farm and wellness center as an apprentice. Anyways, I’ve been planning to do some WWOOFing in my travels to learn different methods to grow produce organically. I also wanted to meet Jon, this random connection from my homelands. Jon is vegan (most of the time). He is also a kindred spirit to me unlike anyone I know besides Roselynne or Jason. We see the same world in front of us and we’re exploring similar ways to navigate it. We see the world in a pretty unusual light.

So does the owner of this farm, Eleanor. She’s an incredible human being. The vision she has for this place is finally coming together after three years of work, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. She focuses mostly on the wellness center and education sides of things, and Danny runs the farm. Before this, Danny spent ten years as the head of Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, the chief humanitarian aid group here cleaning up after conflicts between the Muslim/Communist/leftist rebels and the rightist/Catholic/military government. He’s an amazing fellow.

The property, the buildings, the farm, and the untamed jungle are organic and fluid in themselves. Both positive and negative energies of the land and its surrounding occupants is as legible and tangible as a book. I arrived in the morning and left the following morning, drinking buko/passionfruit juice, taking a tour of everything, eating jackfruit, sleeping, talking with farmers and amongst the three of us (Jon, Farida, another potential apprentice, and I). I took notes on suggestions and fantasies tossed out by all of us in discussion and later compiled a list to send to Eleanor.

It’s a beautiful thing, what she’s created. From the moment they opened, they’ve booked their 4-day Wellness Retreats, where guests go through a detox fast of only buko-passionfruit juice and three meals of probiotics and their signature tonic. I should mention here that nothing the center does is kept secret. There are no secret remedies. They point out what they do uniquely from other natural healers and farms, and they actively teach guests how to mix their own tonics, use whole plant medicines and foods to build a healthful foundation, how to do their own enemas, and eventually, how to prepare their own food, play music, do art, and a whole host of other specialty therapy skills they can take away with them. Jon said at one point, “we don’t want them to come back”, clarifying that people should come away empowered and healthy for life, not just for the time they are there. On the last day there’s a feast of natural foods. Guests react differently. Some want to go through as many cleansing experiences as possible to get their money’s worth. Others just try to remember what it’s like to relax. Others release an outpouring of previously bottled up emotions. Others are transformed simply because they got away from the poor diet they had before. Some guests are Filipino, others are international.

The center has an open invitation for practitioners of spiritual, emotional, and physical therapies to come and stay. They get free food, a place to sleep, cook, and wash, opportunities to exchange skills with all of the other practitioners (including farmers), and receive a small stipend. Jon offers Eskrima, and hopes to learn plant medicine knowledge. I could easily see myself filling the roles they need me to fill. If I decide to stay there, I would spend 3 weekend days as the Bistro executive chef and manager, finding staff and developing a menu to teach mostly raw vegan culinary variety and how to prepare food without destroying essential vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. I would also serve as music and art therapist for the other four days of the week, again teaching how to use vibration and creativity to cultivate emotional and spiritual health. I can do this job. It fits me well. However, my heart just isn’t in it. It’s not where I am at this point in my life. Right now, I need to wander, see what’s out there, and not commit the minimum two years I think it would take to do this job, get it off the ground and running without me, and learn what I want to get out of it. I’m really happy that I got to visit. It’ll be a home in the world if I ever want it.

The night before I left early in the morning, there was talk about need for a Filipino cultural night at the end or on the off days. Someone said they need someone to teach them Tinikling. Lights… cue action! I learned Tinikling and even performed for hundreds of people when I was a teenager, and of course I remember! So I asked for two bamboo poles and showed these two, old, very Filipino men how to do the dance, along with Jon and Farida. So much fun because of the mild element of danger. The bamboos clapping toether make a loud noise, and you have to try not to get your food clapped in between. We had a blast, and in the middle of it all, Eleanor called just to check in, and I overheard everyone saying, “yes, David! David is teaching us tinikling!” The white man teaching the Filipinos their own folk dance. How ironic! The video below is similar to the routine I did when I was younger.

So, I thought I’d finish up this post with one little detail. Jon and Danny told me that the neighboring landowners don’t treat their forests or the life in them with the same respect as they do. Shooting and capturing birds for intstance. Over the last few years the birds have learned that the Healing Present land is safe, so the trees have become a sort of sanctuary. Most of the birds of the area stay on their 17 hectares, and the sound in the morning is fantastic.