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Apr 06th
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How To Survive the Flu-type Pandemics With the Help of Herbs and Natural Medicine

How The Reyes Clan and Other Sorsoganons Survived the Spanish-Flu and Asian-Flu Pandemics -- With the Help of Herbs and Natural Medicine

By Bobby M. Reyes
First Draft
My registering the domain name,, (a combination of “herb” and “elixir of life”) was the product of years of telling -- to no avail -- the policy-and-decision makers of Sorsogon, Philippines, of the medicinal values of some herbs and plants that grow in the province. But the Sorsoganon elected officials were figuratively deaf to my proposals. One of them even literally threw our typewritten, single-spaced 52-page proposal into the waste basket in the late 1980s (after a group that I headed left the Office of the Governor at the Sorsogon Provincial Capital after submitting it).
Politicians seem not interested in ideas that do not give them instant financial benefits. And I was talking about investing in a Research-and-Development (R-&-D) Center, years of clinical trials and putting up state-of-the-art manufacturing-and-agricultural infrastructures.

On Jan. 28, 2011, I published an article about some of the herbs and medicinal plants that grow in the Province of Sorsogon. Here is the link to it:

Perhaps another reason for their reluctance to listen to my “bright ideas” was that I presented only anecdotal arguments that some herbs and natural medicine enabled many Sorsoganons, including the members of my clan, to survive the Spanish Flu of 1918-to-1920 and the Asian Flu of 1957-to-1958 pandemics. And of course, officials probably did not want to listen, as I belong to a clan of politicians that produced already three governors (two of whom were also elected congressmen), several mayors and other elected officials. They saw in me a potential rival. They were right, as I myself ran unsuccessfully for governor in the May 9, 2016, election -- after a physical absence in Sorsogon for more-than 27 years.
The Spanish-Flu Pandemic of 1918-to-1920
As a back grounder of the 1918-1920 pandemic, please read my modest report about it in this link:
My father, Dominador S. Reyes (1909-1999), first introduced me to the world of herbs and medicinal plants when I was this tall. He said that he was only a 9-year-old kid when the Spanish-flu pandemic ravaged the Philippine Islands (P.I.), which was then an American colony. All his siblings and he survived -- thanks to their widowed mother, Baldomera Sesbreño-Reyes (1867-1943) and the foresight of their departed father, Alfonso Reyes (AKA Lim Guia), a Chinese immigrant from Amoy, Fujian Province of China. Prior to his death, Alfonso taught his wife and her kin some traditional-Chinese herbal preparations and pointed to her some herbs and medicinal plants that were indigenous to Sorsogon.
The knowledge of my paternal Chinese grandfather, Lim Guia (1859-1913), about the traditional Chinese herbal medicine proved providential. Yes, it was part of his legacy that aided his seven children and his wife (and many relatives and other Sorsoganons) in surviving the Spanish-Flu pandemic, which came just 5-years after his death.

At that time, the American colonizers were just starting to set up the provincial-hospital system. They had already organized a public-school system, as well as the organization of a state university, including the country’s first Medical Center (with a school of medicine, R-&-D Center and a general hospital).
Readers may like to browse this article that I wrote about my late uncle, Jose S. Reyes (my father’s third-eldest sibling) and about the development of education under the American regime. The link to it:

To give readers an idea of how the American colonial regime was developing healthcare and medical research, please read this article that I wrote about the U.S. Army’s research on cholera, malaria, other tropical diseases and the Bubonic plague in 1900-to-1906. The link:

According to anecdotal sources and references, the number-one medicinal plant is “Lakad-bulan.” It is scientifically known as the Blumea balsamifera (Linn.) DC. or Conyza balsamifera (Linn). Thanks to the Lakad-bulan and other medicinal plants such as the banaba and guava, malungay (moringa) and others, the Reyes siblings, and other Sorsoganons survived the Spanish Flu -- without the use of chemical-based “modern” medicine.
The Asian Flu of 1957-to-1958 Pandemic
I was already a 5th-grade elementary-school student in 1957. I recall knowing people having fever and dying. But we, Sorsoganons, did not have much knowledge of influenza. We did not know that it was a world-wide pandemic that was caused by avian-flu viruses.
As the eldest child in the family (that would consist eventually of 12 siblings), I believe that I transmitted to some of my younger brothers and sisters the sicknesses that I caught. My childhood friends and I liked to swim and catch small fishes aside from fresh-water shrimps in some of the nearby rivers, which were some of the 37 tributaries that ended in Sorsogon Bay. And did we catch also viruses and bacteria from the rivers. I recall that I had so many bouts of fever, aside from catching small pox and measles. But I was fortunate that they were probably caused by milder strains of pathogens and I did survive all the ailments I came down with -- thanks to the aid of herbal products and natural medicine.
When I and/or my siblings were ill, my parents (or when we were visiting my maternal grandmother), we were usually given chocolate (made from locally-grown, and processed, cacao beans that were grounded into small balls. And they were dropped into boiling water in a kettle or pot. When it cooled down, we drank it without any sugar or milk in it. My grandma said that raw-and-pure cacao drinks help herbs and natural medicine cure the body of ailments.

My unforgettable childhood experiences eventually made me register the domain name, Yes, “0,” as in zero sugar, zero trans-fat, zero bad cholesterol and other added ingredients. And yes, Sorsogon produces a modest lot of cacao beans.
My adventures (or misadventures) with viruses and other pathogens probably gave my siblings and me some form of immunity from a few strains of the avian-flu viruses. (And also lifetime immunity from small pox and measles.) We and other people -- and my family members and almost all of the tens of thousands of Sorsoganon at that time -- did not get the flu shot (vaccine). It is not readily available (even to date) in most provinces of the archipelago. That is, even if ordinary people, who are mostly financially-distressed, could afford it.
In 1957, Sorsogon did not have much in healthcare facilities and supplies of modern medicine. Although my father was then one of the leading lawyers in Sorsogon, people did not have much when it came to the science of medicine. My father ran for governor of Sorsogon in the elections of 1955 and 1959 and part of his platforms of governance and economics was strengthening the Sorsogon Provincial Hospital and its municipal clinics. But my father lost also his two gubernatorial campaigns for he was always with the political opposition -- like me.
There is not much collection of data about the number of Filipino victims of the 1957-1958 Asian-flu pandemic. Hopefully, this article (that may also be published as a Facebook Note) will usher in more scientific research on the pandemics that hit the Philippines and their history, casualty figures, etc.
If you Google it, the Philippines is not even mentioned in the studies about this particular pandemic. Here is an example of a report, as Googled:
And finally, a vast majority of Sorsoganons (and other Filipinos, too) live and die without seeing a physician in their respective existence. When they die, their grieving survivors -- when asked how their loved one died -- just point to the number-once cause of death in the Philippines, especially in Mindanao, the “Mona Lisa Syndrome.” To read more about it, please go to this link:
By the way, my childhood river experiences led me to write articles about Sorsogon Bay and the other bodies of water in my province. I created this Facebook Group about them, And I also registered (and continue to own) the domain name, Eventually, I will formalize a book about my articles on the Sorsoganon environment and its natural assets.
And finally, I also organized this Facebook Group that proposes to turn the provincial-hospital system into a health-maintenance organization patterned after the Kaiser Permanente Foundation/HMO. The link is:
(More details in the revised draft ...)
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