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From sickly child to doctor, she’s bringing holistic healthcare to Hong Kong

From sickly child to doctor, she’s bringing holistic healthcare to Hong Kong
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Wellness resort’s holistic health doctor draws from natural medicine and alternative medicine that helped her heal

As one of six children growing up in the Philippines, Marian Alonzo struggled with ill- health and had low vitality.

She was constantly in and out of hospital before being diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a disorder that affects the heart muscle.

“I was always in bed and didn’t have any energy to play – even going to the restroom was an effort,” says Alonzo via Zoom from the Philippines.

“My nanny would carry me because I couldn’t walk, not because I had leg problems but because I had shut down. I didn’t even have the energy to open my eyes, even when awake,” she says.

Marian Alonzo is a doctor at medical wellness resort The Farm at San Benito, in the Philippines. Photo: The Farm

Her parents looked for natural remedies at a very early stage.

“The turning point in my health ordeal was when I was nine years old and was supposed to have surgery, but at the time I was very tired. I told my mum no more, I just want to rest,” she recalls.

“I overheard a conversation between my mum and the doctor … there was concern and love from my mum, who said, ‘It’s her body’ and the doctor’s reply was, ‘How can you let a nine-year-old decide on something so important?’

“My mum answered firmly but respectfully: ‘It’s her body, that’s why she gets to decide.’”

Those words, she recalls, were like magic.

The Farm at San Benito in The Philippines is bringing a selection of wellness therapies to the Upper House in Hong Kong. Photo: The Farm

“I had a surge of vitality but didn’t know where it came from,” she says. “My mum standing up for what I wanted was very significant.”

Also significant was The Power of Alpha-Thinking: Miracle of the Mind, a book by Jess Stearn that her mother had read. “At nine years old I also read that book; it basically talked about not focusing on the problem, but daydreaming your future into reality,” she says.

“I was always in bed without energy and my body felt like it was not free, but my mind could free me, so I applied the techniques from the book.

“I would imagine waterfalls and wearing white coats – I did not know that I’d become a doctor – and working in paradise giving hope to people … that gave me more vitality, so that’s how the journey started.”

Alonzo graduated from the University of the Philippines College of Medicine, where she was recognised for her outstanding clinical work. She finished her European postgraduate studies with distinction, specialising in integrative medicine that combines conventional medicine with practices and treatments from natural and alternative medicine.

Chef Marie Pagcaliwagan from The Farm will lead workshops on juicing and preparing living foods as part of The Farm at San Benito x Upper House Wellness residency. Photo: The Farm

Today, she is medical chief at medical wellness resort The Farm at San Benito, in Batangas province south of Manila in the Philippines.

Since 2002, she has helped create the resort’s holistic programmes, including ones that examine the science behind a person’s feelings by looking for chemical imbalances in their body that can cause health issues from depression and mood swings to cravings.

Nutrition and exercise are key elements of these programmes.

From May 17 to 23, The Farm at San Benito will have a week-long residency at The Upper House hotel in Admiralty, Hong Kong.

Staff will introduce its personalised treatments and holistic therapies, give talks and run workshops on juicing and preparing living foods – kept as close to their original form as possible to retain maximum nutrients and active ingredients.

Alonzo – who co-authored Raw!, a raw-food recipe book, and Cleanse!, a guide to the holistic healing of body and mind – will lead talks on applying integrative medicine to women’s health, and healthy ageing.

The Farm at San Benito x Upper House Wellness residency, May 17-23, The Upper House, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, tel 3968 1000

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