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chilling out

Family Wellness FestivalNovember 12/13, 2005 Saturday/Sunday

Family Wellness Festival

The ABS-CBN Foundation and its environmental arm, Bantay Kalikasan, sponsored the 2-day Family Wellness Festival at the La Mesa Eco Park. It was an ambitious project that presented a wholesome and secure mall-alternative, not just for adventure seekers, but for the entire family. For a paltry admission fee of P150 per person, the visitor can enjoy the 2-day festival inclusive of wellness lectures, yoga, workshops and the Neo-Ethnic Artists Music Festival featuring big-name performers - Joey Ayala, Pinikpikan, Grace Nono, Bayang Barrios, Makiling Ensemble, etc. For an added fee of P350, there's the Jazz Fest comprising more than 30 of the biggest names in Jazz - Mishka Adams, Vernie Varga, Jacqui Magno, Affinity, etc.

Gina Lopez
The single driving force behind this project is really Gina Lopez, from the wealthy Lopez family of Meralco and ABS-CBN. As a general rule, I'm always suspicious when an influential big-name undertakes a project like this. The specter of tax shelter or political mileage come to mind. However, after hearing her talk during the opening ceremonies and then at the lecture on "Awakening the Third Eye", I realized my doubts were unfounded. This lady puts her money where her mouth is. She was very hands-on and visible throughout the event ensuring all is well with everyone.

She was candid in telling her story about walking away from the comforts of wealth to live in a religious commune in Africa for 20 years where meditation for 10 or 12 hours is the order of the day. At 52, she has grown wise but continues the search for her truth. Her involvement in environmental activism is a manifestation of that reality.

Activity Highlights
There was something for everyone - mountain bike riding offered by the Sabak crew, team building and leadership workshop by the awesome Lubid guys, rock climbing and rappelling by the UP Mountaineers, yoga by Berta Feliciano and Raya Mananquil, tai-chi and chi-gong to those in search of spiritual upliftment, and a whole array of vegetarian food selection and organic meat.

Ending Thoughts
While this kind of event could be a weekly offering in some countries, it remains a novelty here. It caters to a small upper-class niche but it doesn't have to stay there. In this age of over-malled weekend routine, Gina and her friends presented a new beginning in opening up our psyche for a family wellness activity. I don't think it made money but I hope it did. I hope it becomes an annual tradition. Thank you, Gina. Your efforts and vision are very much appreciated.

--- TheLoneRider

November 12, 2005
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