MANILA, Philippines–Some of today’s healthcare practices are derived from Ayurvedic medicine.
Ayurveda, considered the world’s oldest healthcare system with 5,000 years of recorded history in India, has presence in most international health resorts and alternative medical clinics, which use Ayurvedic elements such as massage, meditation and cleansing therapies.
This holistic healthcare system is slowly taking root in the country through the efforts of a long-time Philippine resident of Indian origin, whose great enthusiasm for Ayurveda stems from his genetic lineage of Ayurveda doctors.
Sona Roy, who spent long years on social service work in Africa as a voluntary missionary, arrived in the Philippines in 1991, right smack in the middle of a natural disaster. He began managing relief operations in communities affected by the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo.
Under the aegis of the ABS-CBN Foundation, set up by his then partner Gina Lopez, Sona helped put together the Eco-Village Resettlement Project in Iba, Zambales, for displaced families, with the vision of building a self-sustaining community.
At the Iba Eco-Village, he set up herbal gardens, natural farming, children’s education and healthy lifestyle within the community, which he credits as germinating the seed of an Ayurveda center for healing and learning.
From Iba to Quezon City
Twenty years later, he formally established the Shanti Ayurveda Center (Shanti is Sanskrit for “peace”) in Xavierville, Quezon City, as an avenue for bringing authentic Ayurveda not only to the country but to the region.
The Center has brought in as consultant-partners certified Ayurvedic medicine experts from Kerala, India, the training ground of the foremost exponents of the ancient system. It has also taken in Filipino allies in the field of alternative medicine.
Dr. Kiranlal VS, director of operations and senior Ayurvedic consultant, trained the first graduates of Ayurveda Therapy.
Filipino therapists can now perform typical Ayurvedic treatments for specific health concerns on the proprietary “oil boat” massage table made of a single piece of medicinal wood (the most luxurious is sandalwood, but post-typhoon fallen mango trunk will do for now). “Wood” it be milk drip therapy for skin and allergy problems, herbal powder massage for blood circulation and weight loss, or the popular oil drip therapy for mental clarity and psychosomatic conditions?
And then there is the poultice massage using different ingredients: medicinal leaves for arthritic conditions, lemon bundle for respiratory conditions, and ice and milk pudding (yes!) for musculo-skeletal problems.
Another consultant, Dr. Ciga R Babu, is the resident physician who designs the right treatment for every patient.
Fundamentally, Ayurveda is anchored in the balance of one’s inner harmony with the natural rhythm of nature—creation, maintenance and recycling, known in Sanskrit as Wind, Fire and Earth.
With the opening of a second branch in BF Homes Parañaque, Sona Roy is close to realizing his vision of a comprehensive healthcare system, integrated with livelihood to the community, combined with enhancing the community members’ quality of life.
Dr. Kiranlal is currently working to build a supply farm that will not only provide livelihood but teach local communities how to make their own nature-based Ayurvedic kitchen pharmacy.
Ayurveda, the science of life, may seem hard to understand in one flow (it took several visits for us to get the healthy picture), but, like any good thing, we let it flow into our health consciousness in drips, one dose at a time.