Those who believe that only time can heal a broken heart, have
perhaps never eaten chocolates or been to Rapha Valley.
Inspired from the Hebrew term rapha which means “to heal”, Rapha Valley is a rolling seven-hectare organic vegetable farm and a rustic bed and breakfast place located in the highlands of Don Salvador Benedicto, the summer capital of Negros Occidental. It is a sanctuary offering wellness program, agricultural tours, and organic food for those who want to momentarily get away from the city and experience a simple and healthy lifestyle. One of the farm owners, Dr. Jo Albert is actually a medical doctor by profession but a chef, and health and wellness advocate at heart.
Rapha Valley is special in many ways, promising three things: relaxation, rejuvenation and healing.
The Santol House, one of the earliest physical structures of the farm, was built from old santol trees that have outlived its fruit bearing days. Even its furniture and decors, including its ceiling and foundations were carved and designed from the tree.
The events hall or big tent, where the kitchen is also located, serves as the dining area for those who avail the agricultural tour. Food being served is cooked in clay pots, the old fashioned way, and never in aluminum pots and pans. There are studies showing that food is healthier and tastes better when cooked in earthenware.
Rapha Café, a farm to table restaurant, serves food directly from their vast farm and garden. They serve organic food, with no oil, msg, sugar and unhealthy additions.
Lemongrass juice, a good body cleanser
Herbed and flower salad with honey mustard dressing
Tofu cheese and ginger cookie
Penne in salsa verde or creamy sauce of lentils and herbs
The award winning guilt-free chicken adobo
Chocolate lava cake with stevia leaves as natural sweetener
Dr. Albert usually goes from table to table cheerfully providing mini lectures on healthy living and the health benefits of his food creation. He usually warns diners to stay away from French fries, sodas, beers and other processed and microwaved food; encourages them to eat raw fruits and vegetables as much as possible and to detoxify at least four times a year. He even shared the ingredients to his natural cleanser which should be drank three times a day for three days, without consuming anything – a mixture of 4 litres of water mixed with juice squeezed from 20 pcs. of calamansi, 2 tbsp. of black strap molasses and 1 tbsp. of cayenne powder or sili labuyo.
For those who intend to stay overnight and commune longer with nature, there are homey casitas or cuartos to choose from complete with the bed and breakfast service.
An expedition walk around Rapha Valley is invigorating and at the same time, educational.
There are so many things I discovered from my brief sojourn
at Rapha Valley. But I guess one of the important lessons I learned from Dr.
Albert is having the courage to fulfill your own dreams. He never really wanted
to be a doctor. He just finished his medical degree to fulfill his parents’
wish. And after that, he pursued his life-long dream of being a chef and a
health advocate by opening Negros’ very own Sweet Valley High.
“We don’t make mistakes, just happy little
- Bob Ross
freaked me out the moment I found out that I booked a wrong flight somewhere in
Visayas. But as they say, not all mistakes are bad. Some could even lead to new
and exhilarating discoveries. So instead of cancelling the trip, I decided to push
thru and ended up in one of the few remaining paradises of Negros Occidental -
A four-hour bus-ride away from Bacolod City, Cauyan is home to two famous leisure and adventure spots – Punta Bulata Beach Resort and Spa and Danjugan Island.
For those seeking a little solitude with an amazing view of nature, Punta Bulata is the perfect place to be. Being far from the city, surrounded with flowers and trees, and with access to a kilometer-stretch of white sand beach, it could be everybody’s dream vacation place.
Upon seeing the infinity pool and the calm sea is enough for me to compensate for the long travel. The ambiance was so relaxing that I could just swing forever under the leaning coconut tree.
There are horses roaming around the property. But they are not that tamed, especially the little one.
Accommodation in Punta Bulata ranges from rustic native Filipino nipa-hut cottages, mud houses, beachfront villas, to comforting spa rooms.
The scenic view around the resort is best complemented with good food from the resort’s restaurant. I really enjoyed the seafood and the fresh fruit shake.
When staying at Punta Bulata, it is a must to visit the nearby island of Danjugan.
The island, surrounded by beautiful coral reefs, is a protected marine and wildlife sanctuary with white sand beaches, lagoons and limestone forests providing asylum to many wildlife species. It used to be a threatened and over-fished area but thanks to the efforts of The Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation, it now serves as an outdoor classroom for students, research area for conservationists, and haven for travelers eager to experience nature at its purest.
A day isn’t enough to do several activities in the island like trekking, kayaking, spelunking and bat-hunting, and swimming in the crystal-clear waters and lagoons.
But what I found most enjoyable was snorkeling. With over 800 fish and hard coral species, the underwater kingdom of Danjugan is such a beauty to behold.
There are eco-cabanas and dormitory for those who want to stay overnight or longer.
Back to Punta Bulata, a day never ends without another mesmerizing beauty ephemerally showing up.
even if I don’t make $25,000 a year, who says I can’t be happy.