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The Manila Bulletin
Sunday Leisure
April 27, 2003
Be[e] healed with Maria's Honey!

By Therese J. Camet Photos by: Rudy Liwanag

Believe it or not, bees can also be mans best friends! However, many people are afraid of bees' sting although actually bees don't sting unless they are frightened or hurt.

For instance, bees are the only insects that produce food eaten by man. Likewise, we use beeswax to produce candles, soaps, lip sticks and all sorts of things. We also use honey in cooking and as a sweet spread on our bread.

Above all, trees and plants would become extinct if the bees weren't there to help them pollinate.

As a frequent traveler to Tagaytay, I would always see the sign that says, "Ilog Maria Honeybee Farms" along Aguinaldo Highway in the stretch of Silang, Cavite. Finally, during Holy Week, I had a chance to visit the place and it was quite a discovery.

The sign indicates that the honeybee farms are 700 meters away from the highway. That is a long walk, if you're going by foot like trekking through a mini jungle of trees and wild growth. Further down the road are seven natural springs.

So, take the car over the dirt road to the Magsaysay residence and honeybee farms.

A one-story building with huge glass windows with a spacious terrace in the front awaits visitors to Ilog Maria Honeybee Farms. The place is so peaceful, a wilderness of pineapple, coconuts, coffee, papaya, mangoes, langka trees and other plant species. It makes you want to linger.

People come from all over the country and even parts abroad to check out the products of Ilog Maria, a wide selection of soaps, shampoo and conditioners, candles, massage oils, facial scrub, fly

 

repellent, lip balm, coffee, cider vinegar, wine, royal jelly and bee pollen. And they're all made from honey and beeswax. The Bee Pollen is best for increasing stamina and alertness. It can also boost one's mental capacity. Likewise, it's good for losing, gaining and even maintaining weight.

In addition, it aids in eliminating fatigue, hypertension and is believed to alleviate impotence and prevent prostate cancer.

Virgin honey promotes health, vitality, strength, stamina, growth and healing. Furthermore, it activates the body's chemical reactions, principally in digestion. It is an effective burn and wound dressing because it accelerates healing while minimizing infection and scar tissues.

Meanwhile, Ilog Maria's soaps are made from pure honey, beeswax and propolis from the beehive along with high grade essential oils that are ideal for cleansing, healing, moisturizing and even skin whitening.

"Honey cider vinegar and virgin honey" are recommended for diabetics and people who want to lose weight. Believe it or not, these products work as excellent agents for losing weight.

Because their products are so good, the owners don't see the need to market them in Metro Manila or at the malls. Their reputation is purely "by word of mouth."

And evidently, "word of mouth" has reached all the way to the United States, Europe and other Asian countries because orders come in from abroad and the owners Joel and Violaine Magsaysay will gladly ship it for you wherever you are.

You may wonder how can something as sweet as honey can be transformed into vinegar.

"You mix honey with mineral water in a bottle, put a little bee pollen in it, close it and it will ferment because pollen has yeast and honey is simple sugar….after it stops bubbling, you'll have 'honey wine' but if you want to have vinegar all you have to do is leave it open and you'll have vinegar," explains Joel.

 

Joel has been propagating the bees for about 25 years together with his brilliant wife, Violaine, who

formulates all of Ilog Maria's products. Although the business has been around since 1979, Joel considers 1987 as the year that Ilog Maria was born. It was also start of Magsaysays' blessings.

"It was in February 1987 (I wasn't married yet), when we experienced the first 'El Nino'. It didn't rain for five months and so our plants started dying. It got so bad that one day, my mother asked me to pick her up in Mandaluyong and drive her to our farm in Silang. She said she would pray that it would rain." So, Violaine who was then my girlfriend and I picked her up and went to the farm," Joel relates.

According to Joel, her mother began praying at 10 a.m. in their house at the farm and continued doing it so till the afternoon. Well, it started to downpour at 3 p.m.

"My mom's prayers were heard…It wasn't ordinary rain; in fact, it was hailing hailstones with thunder and lightning. My mom cried and she kept on crying. When she stopped crying, the rain immediately ceased as well…" he continues.

After 45 minutes of nonstop rains, Joel together with Violaine and his mom decided to go back to Manila. Ironically, when they reached the main road they realized that it didn't rain because the road was dry.

Joel registered the business under the name of "Ilog Maria" because he and his family believed that the virgin Mary has blessed them.

From 1979 to 1998, Ilog Maria only produced honey. But as Joel puts it, " We hit the jackpot in 1998 when we started to come up with all these other products that we have now…"

Before long, Ilog Maria will come up with shaving soap, wood polish and propolis toothpaste. And you can expect more 'inventions' to come in the future because Violaine never stops experimenting in the basement of there house. Although she took up fisheries in college, Joel believes " she must have been an alchemist in a previous life."

 

Joel, by the way, took up engineering in college