Five star raw

Originally published February 9th, 2012

Bahay Kalipay

I had a weekend ‘off’ 10 days ago; Simone had to leave to Malaysia. And so I contacted the person that she and Ramke had been raving about since I got here: Pi Villaraza at Bahay Kalipay. On the paradise island of Palawan.

Pi Villaraza says of himself that he found, not founded, ‘inner dance’.

Inner Dance is the dance we dance within, the dance of our thoughts, our feelings.

The dance of the higher being inside us, the dance we dance with the universe. And when we talk about the universe, we talk about mother earth. The part of ourselves that we call earth, because in effect, we are all an inseparable part of each other, the earth, the universe. It is quite spectacular and hard to put into words.

hammocks and breezes at Bahay Kalipay

Needless to say that going to Pi’s retreat called Bahay Kalipay (House of Happy), you are going to live with earth, connect with nature.



The place is paradise. Off a dust road outside Puerto Princesa you enter a lush garden of green. Banana trees, coconut trees, strings of ‘angel’s hair’, huts interspersed throughout and interconnected with each other, straw roofs, open sides, beads and dream catchers swaying in the breeze, mosaic of broken tiles arranged on the ground into harmonious shapes…


five star raw

At Bahay Kalipay one eats raw. Only raw. I had been on raw food for two weeks, so easy-peasy for me; I wouldn’t even call it a ‘detox’ anymore, like the other attendees of the course did. And the raw food served here is five-star compared to what Simone and I had been mixing up. It turns out there is a vast host of ingredients one can use to spice it up, like curries, mueslis, nuts… Smoothies were green, made of green leaves (the most nutritious vegetable, second to coconut on the whole) and herbs. I ate like a goddess! One of the days we even went on a buko fast. Only coconut juice and meat for breakfast, snacks, lunch and dinner. And it, too, was OK.

In this environment, I continued reading in my book, ‘nature’s first law’. I don’t feel I need to read anymore because it all makes sense, and yet it still provides snippets of information that reinforce the authors statements on all levels of life, health, illness, pollution, evolution…

Eating raw food is not about ‘going on a diet to lose weight’

(I am freely quoting the authors in this post.) The raw food diet is not even a diet in the sense of the way we use the term. Humans are raw food eaters, by nature. So eating raw is basically just… eating. At the very base of their exposé, the authors of the book say ‘cooked food is poison’. It is the last sentence of every chapter. Cooked food is poison. Quite dramatic. …

‘No natural creature ever tampers with its food’, yet we humans cook and process virtually everything we eat. Nature provided us with all we need, and we go change it. By changing it and this is the thing, by cooking, burning, processing and adding chemicals to it, we deprive our system from all the nutrients that would feed it and what’s more, we turn it into something that the human body was not intended to digest. Because the body can’t handle it, it takes days to digest it. Because the body doesn’t know what to do with it, it stores it. What we call fat are leftovers… leftovers of the mush we feed our body that it can’t process the way it is supposed to.

The authors say that every illness the human being has comes from his diet; from the body being weakened by not receiving enough nutrients and from being forced to process mush that doesn’t actually give it anything. The leftovers clog our arteries. The leftovers turn into vicious cells.

They talk about doctors who have successfully cured patients with natural nutrition. They quote Hippocrates with ‘Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.’

It makes me sad. And angry. ‘Why has our entire system of everyday reality been built up in a way that it is so very bad for us? And why does it have to taste so good? Why is a breakfast with yoghurt and cheese-toasts and coffee harming me?’ And what’s more, the industries around the way we eat harm our world so badly, factories, pharmaceuticals (to ‘mend’ what we have done wrong but, in effect, just inserting another indigestible element to our system), transport, electronic devices, waste… so many things are part of our everyday life now that were not supposed to be here in the first place.

I don’t like it! I don’t like that my reality is now suddenly wrong, I don’t like that our reality seems to be a big mistake. I don’t like that my reliable comforts harm me. When I walk through a supermarket all I can see is how processed, packed and fake everything is. The book was written in the nineties, and they claim that 80% of our waste landfills were filled with packaging and things related to cooked and processed foods. 80%… I hope that today it is less; I hope that some of our efforts to live sensibly and ecologically have had an impact.

And I don’t like how nobody seems to know this. Why was this such news to me? A big part of me doesn’t like that this knowledge has been shared with me. Because now I can’t ignore it! Now I will need to take it from here, and now I will also be, and have been, telling other people about it – and will I be upsetting or annoying because of it?

The question I have been asking myself is precisely that: HOW will I take it from here? I don’t know how this post sounds to you, because now I am sharing it with you just like it has been shared with me. Am I leaving you with a sense of frustration? Or amusement? I know you’ll all be thinking and feeling what I do. ‘But if it makes me feel good, surely it can’t be bad?!’ and ‘No way I’ll give up my pasta!’

Here’s the thing: I feel great!

I really, truly do. Four weeks into it now. Apparently I have lost more weight, though that was not the intention. My body feels fit and energized. My hair feels good. I don’t feel like my skin needs to be moisturized at all anymore. I sleep better.

And I feel the difference when I ‘cheat’. Because I do have the odd cup of coffee and cheeky muffin; the day I returned from Palawan I actually had a beer and deep-fried cheese… When others are eating cooked, I’ll add rice or bread to my salad. But I try to always have as many raw elements as cooked ones in my balance; ideally slightly more raw than cooked. I feel good. I feel I am doing my body good. And want that to stay.

So I want to give it a go. My goal is to have two raw meals a day, and add raw to whatever cooked food I eat. I will get a fancy recipe book and the tools I need. Because some of the stuff we ate in Bahay Kalipay was out of this world and I would have downed it even without knowing the beneficial effects it has. I will go to market. I will find out about it all.

I am expecting it to be a challenge, starting with the winter when less fresh is available and when we feel we need to ‘warm up’ with food, and especially when it will be just me…

Let’s see 🙂