A Quest for Health and Wellness

By Aissa Arambulo dela Cruz
Food Writer at Cebu Daily News

I met Eleanor A. Rivera, a soft-spoken health and wellness advocate through the young Chef Lyndon Geraldizo of EVOO Resto/Café. Chef Lyndon swears to have lost weight and his hypertensive condition stabilized in a few weeks’ time with Eleanor’s herbal tonic and detoxifying juice.

Presently, Eleanor has her hands full developing her organic Healing Present Nature and Wellness Farm in Balamban. She is busy promoting health and lifestyle change awareness in Cebu. She is helping those with chronic conditions such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, heart problems by sharing her expertise and personal experience in overcoming her own health crisis. She has been promoting her fresh organic produce and herbal concoctions under the original brand “San Gimignano” (now rebranded as Healing Present) in Banilad Town Center every Sunday. She is now finalizing arrangements with Rustan’s Supermarket to carry her health and wellness products as well as her fresh organic herbs and vegetables.

A highly accomplished person, Eleanor Rivera was living the life she has worked hard for – pursuing the love of her life as an Early Childhood Education teacher in New Jersey and New York City. A 1980 BS Psychology graduate at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, she taught at a hearing-impaired and mentally challenged institution in Cebu City before she left for San Francisco, California for a fellowship in Special Education.

With her desire to have a decent life for her daughter as a single mom, she established her own nursing agency in New Jersey. While running her business, she consistently volunteered as a special education and early childhood teacher, which according to her, kept her sanity, challenged and gave her a sense of fulfillment. To be more effective in her business, she took up BS Nursing and worked as a coronary care unit and oncology nurse.

Following the dictates of her heart, she took up Masters in Early Childhood Education in New York City. To give back to her beloved Cebu, she opened two non-profit Preschools in Lahug and Mambaling – the Happy Child Learning Center. Her overwhelming pursuits finally took its toll on her health and became ill in the process. A wake up call, she finally had to make a drastic change in her life. She cancelled another early childhood education plan in San Gimignano , the Tuscan region of Italy. Instead, she collaborated with Fr. Jimmy Belita, CM on a 3-year research on complementary and alternative medicine indigenous to the Visayan region.

With no time to drive to Eleanor’s Balamban farm, Chef Lyndon accompanied us to her Lahug residence, which was undergoing renovation to give room to her growing health and wellness endeavor. Every nook and cranny was filled with potted, lush greens – gotu kola, rosemary, flat leaf or Italian parsley, arugula, dill, lemon mint, tarragon, oregano and more with culinary as well as medicinal properties. Freshly harvested greens welcomed us as we made our way to her veranda where assorted dips and salad dressings temptingly teased our palates. We dipped the steamed sweet potato into organic homemade hummus pesto, roasted tomato and garlic dip, east/west pesto or pesto with turmeric and other Asian herbs and spices. For healthy snack, there were crunchy chips of arugula, mitsuba or Japanese parsley and kale. We also enjoyed the dehydrated sugar free banana slices. She proudly showed us her concoctions – anti-oxidant laden herbal tonics and detoxifying juices.

Walking her talk, Eleanor is a picture of health. On a profound note, she convincingly told us that Healing Present Nature and Wellness Farm is her humble way of showing her gratitude for the blessings bestowed upon her and part of the journey in following God’s will.


Sunstar Weekend. July ’16- Health advocate writes cookbook for a positive lifestyle in Cebu

Aksyon Bisaya. July ’16- Organic Divine Gorgeous Cookbook Launch

Istorya.net. July ’16 – Organic Divine Gorgeous -Recipes to a Passionate Cook

Cebu-Navi SAKURA magazine. July/Sep ’16 – 10 featured people: Eleanor Rivera

Marriage & Beyond. June ’16- Getting to Know Healing Present and Eleanor Rivera’s Wellness Advocacy

Istorya.net. June ’16 –Healing Present

Cebu Daily News. Apr ’15- Wellness farm in Balamban