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QC aims to be the future ‘wellness capital of Asia’ 

June 16, 2017

Editorial Assistant

Cover art Erka Capili Inciong

In life, there is nothing more essential than being healthy. Without it, we may not find happiness, peace, and success in all other aspects. It is undeniably more valuable than any precious stone, amount of money, or exquisite item that this world can give. The creed of having a well‑balanced lifestyle is a tall order that few can live up to, though it isn’t as difficult as solving mathematical equations, or solving Raymond Smullyan’s “The Hardest Logic Puzzle Ever.” I can say this as someone who is battling chronic myeloid leukemia or CML—a type of cancer that deeply affects the blood and the bone marrow.

Trying to hustle and grind just like any other working millennial, I prioritize staying healthy, especially now that I have begun living independently in Quezon City, far beyond the perimeters of our home in Cavite. With a yoke upon my shoulder for the rest of my life, I need to make sure that I can breathe peacefully in my own small corner in this city, which happens to be one of the country’s most progressive and jam‑packed.

Last week, Quezon City mayor Herbert Bautista made a huge announcement. He declared that Quezon City would become the “Wellness capital of Asia,” with boosted medical tourism facilities. This was a big promise. The city, according to plan, will become a bastion of health and wellness not just in the country but ahead of the nearly 50 countries in the continent.

The plan is ambitious, considering that the Philippines was named “one of the unhealthiest countries in Asia” just last year in a survey, with as much as 80% of 764 Filipino adults claiming that they are not satisfied with their health.

And so, when the good mayor also invited journalists to cover a wellness tour that would boast the country’s “state-of-the-art medical facilities,” I jumped at the opportunity to become a part of it: to see if indeed, this city where I live and work can provide respite to someone who needs to recuperate.

First stop: a dead man’s home.

Quezon Heritage House

Art Erka Capili Inciong | Photo Wikimedia Commons

Behind the old beige and white walls is a story that the city government of Quezon City has preserved for years. At the Quezon Memorial Circle from Gilmore Street in New Manila stands The Quezon Heritage House: the abode and refuge of the family of the late Philippine President Manuel L. Quezon. Acquired in 1927, the house bore witness to many tumultuous events in President Quezon’s life—being a leader who took the challenge of building a nation, convalescing, and up to his last days.

The tour was led by a kind lady named Redge Jimenez Lopez, the external public relations officer of the Quezon City Tourism Office. Together with Ms. Lopez were our tour guides from the same office, Vince Buenaventura and Dhoi dela Cruz.

We walked on the floors decked out in charming machuca tiles, amid the neo‑classical American architectural design, and entered in Quezon’s room. Some of the objects inside his room were well‑preserved. His wife, Doña Aurora Quezon, the first chairperson of the Philippine National Red Cross, spent her life as first lady and mother in this house. We saw how fine she was as a lady.

Good thing, some of her good ol’ stuff have been preserved like her peinadora (dresser) inside her room, the well‑designed vintage plates, and a caja de la planta in the kitchen. The ground floor of the house is where the late President’s memorabilia are located. From being the country’s first Senate President to becoming the President of the Philippine Commonwealth, indeed, President Manuel L. Quezon, through these well kept files, showed how glorious his life was. We also learned different facts of life as our tour guide presented a lot of brain teasers and trivia.

To those who are planning to take a look and take a trip down memory lane in the late President’s life, the Quezon Heritage House is open at the Quezon Memorial Circle, Diliman, Quezon City from Mondays to Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Here are the admission fees:

  • Public School Students ‑ free

  • Private School Students ‑ ₱10.00

  • Non‑Students ‑ ₱10.00

  • Tour operators ‑ ₱300 per bus

  • Senior Citizens and Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) Employees of the City Government, Guests of the City government and Lakbay‑Aral visitors ‑ free

QCX

Art Erka Capili Inciong | Photo QC Tourism Department

Just a five‑minute walk from the Quezon Heritage House, also inside the Circle, the Quezon City Experience (QCX) Museum is a seriously interactive social history museum. The museum projects the great city’s humble beginnings, its struggles, the pressing problems it is facing now, and certainly, how well‑achieved it is today through its 16 galleries, fitted with world‑class installations, tablets, and holograms.

We started in a gallery with the pylons of the Quezon Memorial Shrine, which represent the three islands of the Philippines. The walls of the room carry a 360‑degree illustration of the entire city from the top of the shrine.

Then we entered an overwhelmingly green gallery which simulates Quezon City’s past before it became the powerful metropolis that we know today. The late President Quezon supposedly envisioned his first urban plan while looking over the landscape from a hilltop. A few steps away is a replica of Manuel L. Quezon’s office in the Malacanang. Here, we saw the plans of the first local government. We also sat on his chair and felt like presidents for 15 minutes.

The war gallery of the QCX museum tells stories of how the city engaged in the second world war, as well as the urban legends that haunt locals. SPOILER AHEAD: There is a hologram of the infamous “white lady” of Balete Drive.

The museum also pays tribute to the city’s housing projects. There is a gallery where you can walk through a typical Filipino living room and dining room. We sat at the the couches and seemingly listening to the vintage radio (which honestly looks like a microwave oven) and glanced through a display of achievements of a typical Filipino family on one of the segments of the house’s walls. Very Pinoy.

One of the more exciting galleries, I must say, is the education gallery. Here, the educational setting in Quezon City is elaborated and described. There is a large interactive and motion‑sensitive television screen where we answered a history quiz. OPM songs blasted from headphones to simulate a high‑school field.

Quezon City is known as “the city of stars” for the country’s prime broadcasting companies and film establishments are located here. The entertainment gallery showcases the entertainment industry that has been living under the metropolis’ roof for decades now. There are dressing rooms, a simulation of a news studio, replicas of film and television cameras and a costume from a defunct television program in the gallery.

The most moving gallery, perhaps, is the one where the city’s issues were presented via different art installations, depicting poverty, hunger and lack of funds for education.

Should you wish to visit the museum at the Quezon Memorial Circle, Diliman, Quezon City, here are the admission fees:

  • Students with ID ‑ ₱80

  • Quezon City resident ‑ ₱100 (must present valid ID with address)

  • Non-Quezon City resident ‑ ₱150

  • Group of 50 ‑ 20% discount

  • Group of 50 students ‑ 30% discount

  • Senior citizens/Persons with disability/Solo parent ‑ 20% discount

  • Family of 5 members ‑ 20% discount

  • Free admission for children 6 years and below

Being originally from Cavite, I had a closer look at how great this city is which I consider my second home. The stories behind its achievement are inspiring. Quezon City is not just a progressive city, it is a place where innovative ideas are formed and unwavering dreams are made.

Hillside Cafe & Juice Bar

Art Erka Capili Inciong | Photo Hillside Cafe & Juice Bar

Quezon City may be known as the birthplace of the food park, which are typically teeming with sinful and cheap food, but there are also healthier options.

Hillside Cafe & Juice Bar offers fresh organic food. The interiors itself have a “feel‑good” ambiance that everyone can take pleasure in.

I ordered their baked salmon with caesar dressing, with brown rice and side salad. For only ₱345, you too can devour this scrumptious healthy meal. The cafe also serves various kinds of juice and smoothies with names that are out of your usual guilty thirst‑quenchers. Prices range from ₱145 to ₱340.

Beside the cafe is the Cedarhills Garden Center, a horticultural milieu that promotes natural and organic farming in the heart of Quezon City. A place where one can buy or breathe in the fresh air.

Hillside Cafe & Juice Bar is located at 57 Mo. Ignacia Ave, Diliman, Quezon City. It is open from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

St. Luke’s Medical Center

Art Erka Capili Inciong | Photo Google Earth

Located at E. Rodriguez Sr. Avenue, Quezon City, St. Luke’s Medical Center is gearing to be at the forefront of international medical tourism spots with its facilities and services. The assistant vice president for Institutional accounts, Tristan Ramos, gave us a quick tour on what St. Luke’s offers. Recently, a network of independent healthcare providers, Mayo Clinic Care Network, partnered with St. Luke’s Medical Center for their patients. With this partnership, collaboration among physicians is promoted. Patients can expect extensive answers to their complex medical questions at no additional charge.

We first went to the hospital’s newly‑opened concierge building where foreign patients can be directly assisted (which we found very convenient), then to the main hospital where various health institutes are located. Memories as a leukemia patient flashed as I walked through the halls of the hospital. Two years ago, I went through a test called fluorescent in situ hybridization procedure at this same hospital’s Institute of Pathology, which confirmed the diagnosis. Several follow‑up blood tests also happened in this place. The hospital serves as the “go‑to place” of those battling different ruthless illnesses.

St. Luke’s uses cutting‑edge technology to easily diagnose and treat different modern‑day maladies. They also make sure that the hospital has everything—from medical to administrative—that can cater to as many people.

When asked if the management is ready for the city government’s vision of advancing medical tourism in Quezon City, the vice‑president and assistant head of St. Luke’s medical practice, Dr. Anthony T. Uygongco answered: “We are ready.”

Svelt-i clinic

Art Erka Capili Inciong | Photo QC Tourism Department

‘WE ARE HONEST TO OUR CLIENTS’

Located at the 5th Floor of South Insula Condominium in Timog Avenue, Svelt‑i offers health and beauty services using state of the art technology. When I asked Dr. Lalaine Salazar about the edge of the clinic among other clinics that has sprouted in Quezon City, she said: “We are honest to our clients. We tell them what they should do and assess their problems before proceeding to a certain procedure.”

Svelt‑i’s top services include Revlite, I‑curve, and Accent Ultra. Revlite is a revolutionary aesthetic medical laser that helps in removing tattoos, reducing acne scars and wrinkles, fine hair removal and treatment of vascular lesions. I‑curve offers a slimming treatment which is non‑invasive. Accent Ultra is also a non‑invasive procedure for body and face contouring.

To know more of Svelt‑i’s other services, visit www.svelti.com.ph.

The Spa

Art Erka Capili Inciong | Photo QC Tourism Department

During times when life hits you so bad, sometimes the best thing to do is pamper yourself with a fancy trip to the spa.

To cap off a long, tiring, but undoubtedly fun day, as part of the tour’s itinerary, we found ourselves, dog‑tired and begging for a treat at The Spa at TriNoma. We also needed the boost to face tomorrow’s challenges in our workplaces—including the demands of our bosses.

The place is an oasis in the mall, located at Level 3, Wellness Zone of TriNoma Mall, North Ave, Quezon City. The Spa has other branches in Metro Manila, but perhaps this is the most well‑appointed, it even requires a reservation made two days prior to a session.

Because I am no fan of a full body massage, I requested for a foot massage only. It was a perfect ending after a day full of walking through a city which soon will be welcoming more feet.

All in all, Quezon City has the potential to become a metropolis of health and wellness. Personally, the city government’s vision for the city gives me hope to continue my life as a working millennial, and made me realize that there is a better, healthier way to live.

Even though I am facing my own battle, I can assure my family that my second home is capable of making me “well.”

I also must say this: Quezon City gives hope to our country to redeem itself, and eventually become globally competitive in terms of health and wellness. I am excited to see how medical tourism in this city will develop.

Being diagnosed with CML does not mean that I have to stop living and discovering a lot of good things in the world. There are still a lot of places I have yet to discover and I am looking forward to those moments across the world. At least for now, I know that this city has a place for me.