Nature as Nurturer: Forest Bathing as the New Self-Care

Gubatbp. featuring Dr. TJ Malvar | July 21, 2021
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Episode Transcript



Hi everyone. Welcome to Gubatbp. podcast. I’m Onggie Canivel, Executive Director of Forest Foundation.




And hello I’m Bryan Mariano, Knowledge Management Specialist at Forest Foundation Philippines.




 In this podcast, we tell stories about the forest, plants, and people. Gubatbp. comes from the wordplay of “gubat”, which translates to “forest” in Tagalog, and “at iba pa”, which means “and others”.




 At Gubatbp., we find familiarity in the forest and its relation to our everyday lives.



Today we find ourselves in the woods of Mt. Purro in Brgy. Calawis, Antipolo. It’s a little farther from the Metro, pero mas ramdam na physically closer to nature. Here, the Mt. Purro Nature Reserve becomes a space for forest bathing for anyone who wants to take on the activity away from the city.




While forest bathing is best done and most immersive when in an actual forest, siguro it’s possible for people to recreate the practice with other pockets of greenery and nature, right?




Yes, Bryan. For this episode, we’re taking our listeners on a forest bathing session. While we can’t all be out and about in a place like Mt. Purro, green spaces like parks or even pocket gardens still function as important settings for interacting with the natural world.


So for anyone who wants to immerse themselves and participate sa episode na ito, feel free to find an open space among plants and local wildlife as we turn our senses towards that which may sometimes be overlooked in the hustle of urban life.




Guiding us through this is Dr. TJ Malvar who manages the Mt. Purro Nature Reserve alongside his family. He is a medical practitioner who also supports activities on local agriculture, ecotourism, and food security.


While nothing will compare to being outdoors, kami sa Gubatbp. have the opportunity to engage in a short forest bathing session with Doc TJ at the Mt. Purro Nature Reserve. This recording can be something that you can return to should you need to break away from the current stress.


I’m TJ and I’ll be your forest bathing guide this afternoon.

Today, I’ll lead an abbreviated forest bathing session. So we’re standing here at the river. Usually, this is where we bring guests for forest bathing. Just to give you an introduction, usually, when people or when I bring guests over here, one of the things is they dismiss forest bathing sometimes. They say na, “Hiking lang naman yan eh.” That’s one of the ways why I explain to the groups what forest bathing really is–by telling them what it’s not.

What is forest bathing? Ano yung hindi forest bathing? Una: hiking. Hiking is not forest bathing…why? When we hike, usually ang unang tinatanong sayo “Saan kayo pupunta? Maghihiking ako or tayo, saan tayo pupunta? Anong bundok aakyatin natin?” This is always on the destination. When we’re forest bathing, in contrast, the emphasis is on “here.” Where we are at the present moment, the sounds, the sights, the smells, what we feel on our skin…yun ang focus natin. Kung nasaan tayo. Kung saan tayo nagbababad. The emphasis is on “here” and not “there.”

The second nature activity that people kind of equate to forest bathing is yung mga field trips or mga scientific exploration, field excursions. This is different from forest bathing because when we do forest bathing, we avoid labelling things, we avoid labelling what we see: the plants, the birds, the trees, the bodies of water. Hindi natin siya nilalabel kasi pag nilalabel natin, nawawala yung awe factor. When we label things, we dismiss them. We take them for granted. For example, personally, I live here in this area. Oftentimes I see these trees. I bring groups here every week. So when I see something and my mindset is, “Ah, nakita ko na yan dati,” automatic, I take it for granted. I move onto the next thing I want to see.

But when we put ourselves in the shoes of our ancestors who are all cavemen and who roamed the earth when there was no civilization yet, they would see a tree for the first time, they would see an animal for the first time. Hindi naman nila alam kung ano yung tawag, diba? Nakita lang nila yung puno ang laki, ang ganda ng mga dahon. Nakita nila yung hayop, matalas yung mga ipin. Diba? Hindi nila nilalabel yung mga yun. Pag nilagay natin yung mga sarili natin sa ganyang mindset, magbabago yung experience natin. Siguro hindi tayo maglalayo, isipin natin para tayong mga bata.

I have witnessed children interacting with nature and it’s one of the really best things to watch. Most enjoyable things to watch because they have that very pure innocence and when they see something talagang namamangha sila. Pag nakakita sila ng tubig automatic gusto nila magbabad, gusto nila magtampisaw. Tayong mga adults, parang, “Wag! Wag kang magbabasa diyan,” diba? Pero ang mga bata, when they see something, parang na-aamaze sila.

So yan yung invitation ko for this afternoon: we walk along this river as if we’re seeing everything for the first time.

Dr. TJ:


Yung forest bathing, now that I have introduced to what it isn’t, forest bathing is simply opening ourselves up and using all our senses, all our faculties, to interact with nature and to absorb and take in what nature is offering us.


Bakit napakahalaga nito? Bakit ko ito pinupush? Unang una, I’m a doctor. I’m a medical professional and I live in a nature reserve. So when I found out and read all these books and articles about how nature is super beneficial to our overall health and wellbeing, parang sabi ko, “Makes perfect sense for me to pursue this. To get others to participate in this and to promote nature as really very beneficial for our mental health. Not only our mental health, but also our physical health.”


So ano-ano yung mga benefits na napatunayan na?


May mga studies in Japan…forest bathing pala, just to give you a little bit of history, originated in Japan. Ang tawag sa Japan, shinrin-yoku. “Shinrin” meaning forest, “yoku” meaning bathing. So “forest bathing.” Minsan nalilito yung mga tao kasi naiisip nila maliligo. Parang automatic, forest bathing…maliligo ba sa ilog?


I had one particular inquiry that was quite funny. Sabi niya, “Ano ba yan? Nakahubad?” Sabi ko, “Hindi naman, hindi naman.” So it’s really bathing as in pagbababad. It’s similar to sunbathing, diba? So yung forest bathing, it originated in Japan and Japan has a perfect blend of city life and nature. The Japanese are very well known for that.


In the 1980s, sobrang high stress sa Japan because of economic development. Ang daming salarymen…they were really working themselves to death, literally. So yung kanilang government created this public health program which really encouraged the Japanese to go to the forest to experience forest bathing, to immerse in nature. Doon nag-originate. Dahil napatunayan nila sa kanilang pagsasaliksik, that when you go out into nature may mga benefits tayong makukuha.


Yung una, very obvious. Tayo, dito, habang naguusap, you feel more relaxed. You feel like you’re in a better mood. Parang yung spirits mo automatic naglilight up. Yun yung una. That’s anecdotal, but it’s been proven scientifically also.


Pangalawa, yung cortisol levels sa body natin bumababa. Yung inaral nila yung salivary levels of cortisol, so they studied that sometimes early or as little as 15 minutes, bumababa na yung salivary levels of cortisol. Cortisol is our stress hormone so we feel less stressed.


Number three: it’s very good for our cardiovascular health. Being in this kind of environment, it actually lowers our blood pressure by a few points. It also has a good impact–medyo scientific na siya–pero parang tataas yung heart rate variability. Essentially, it puts you in a more relaxed state.


Pang apat, ito yung interesting din, especially for doctors: it increases your immune system. Meron tayo sa katawan natin tinatawag na natural killer cells. When we’re in nature, yung activity ng natural killer cells sa body natin tumataas. So that boosts our immune system, makes us more resistant to diseases.


In a nutshell, yun yung mga top four na benefits na makukuha natin. Ngayon, I also like explaining ano yung theories “bakit”? Bakit kaya? Why is nature so beneficial for us? There are three. I’m sure there are more, but I like to focus on three.


Yung una, yung DNA natin–our genetic makeup–we still share some of it with the ancestors of old. Yung mga australopithecus lucy, you know these people who roam the earth, kumakain sila ng tree bark? These people, yung paleo diet na usong uso…kumakain sila ng raw food. Yung DNA nila, bahagi nun nasa atin pa. That’s why when we go outdoors, when we go to these kinds of places, we feel so much at home. Parang sanctuary natin. Dito tayo comfortable and our DNA, body, spirit recognizes that.


Pangalawa, yung tinatawag nilang phytoncides. Yung phytoncides, it’s emitted by trees. It’s an organic compound emitted by trees as their way of defending themselves from fungi and other harmful disease organisms. Yung phytoncides na ito, pag nasa gubat ka, pag maraming puno, it’s abundant in the air and rich in the atmosphere. Being here, you already ingest it, inhale it. That is said to have very beneficial effects on your body. So langhapin natin yan, ok? Inaral nila yan. They found that the phytoncides inhibited growth of bacteria in a petri dish. Talagang sinasaliksik nila and we know the Japanese are very meticulous with these things.


The third, which is kind of simple rin naman: nature is one of those restorative environments. It’s very easy to relax or to put our minds at ease when we’re in nature. Why? Wala masyadong distraction. It’s so easy for us to achieve that kind of soft focus on the trees, birds, sounds that we hear–that we forget about all the other things, which is very difficult to do when we’re in the city and bombarded with all this stimuli. Ang hirap. Sabihin mo nasa bahay ka, because of the pandemic all of us brought our work home. Yung sanctity of home as a place of rest medyo nasira. Nawasak nitong pandemic.


So when we go out into nature, dito, hindi natin isip yung trabaho. Yung iniisip natin, “Wow, ang ganda ng bato. Ang ganda ng puno. Ang ganda ng tunog ng tubig.” So it’s very easy for us to relax. To put our minds at ease.


The other restorative environments are museums and historical landmarks. Yun, yung mga areas na ito, if you visit these places, it’s very easy to relax kasi nga restorative siya sa atin.


Yun yung tatlong theories kung bakit. Ngayon, we go now to forest bathing.


Dr. TJ:


Some ground rules. Una: no gadgets. Or as much as possible…tayong mga Pilipino mahilig sa cellphone. We’re very connected so ito talaga yung time na medyo magdisconnect. If you want to take a picture…for some kasi that enhances their experience, when they capture things. Pero kung yung motivation mo gusto mo lang magpost sa Instagram stories mo or sa My Day mo sa Facebook, wag nalang. If your intention is very pure or if you want to share it with a loved one back home, ok lang.


Number two: we maintain supportive silence. Supportive silence, ibig sabihin, tahimik tayo kung feeling natin makakatulong siya to enhance the experience. Ibig sabihin, kapag may gusto kang ibahagi sa group, like you saw a really nice bird at gusto mo siya ituro sa mga kasama mo, ok lang para makita rin nila. Pero pag nakita mo yung kasama mo medyo nag-momoment siya, nagmumuni-muni siya, tahimik siya. Wag mo siya abalahin, maybe save it for later. That’s what we mean by supportive silence.


Number three: when we walk–because forest bathing is actually a lot of walking–it’s very slow-paced and the walking distances aren’t very far. But nevertheless, when we walk, we walk slowly. Ang invitation is we walk as if our feet are kissing the ground. So ganun siya. This is in contrast to hiking. Hiking kasi, you trudge. Medyo galit ka pag naghihike ka, pag naglalakad ka kasi nagmamadali. Dito hindi ka nagmamadali, relax lang tayo.


Yung isa pa–and I think this is very important: don’t try too hard. What I love about forest bathing as compared to stuff like meditation, mindfulness, and all these other modalities…you don’t have to do anything as long as you’re here. As long as nilalanghap mo yung sariwang hangin at nakikita mo yung nakikita mo habang nandito ka, solve ka na. Magtiwala ka na nangyayari na nangyayari na lahat ng binanggit ko this very moment at the cellular level. That’s what I love about it kasi hindi mo kailangan magisip.


Sometimes, you overthink. Kunyari, you read up about forest bathing, you read about all its benefits. You want to experience it for yourself so you join the session and when you’re there, “Paano ba ito? Tama ba itong ginagawa ko?” Iisipin mo lang, “Relax. Magtiwala ka lang. Don’t try too hard. Just go with the flow.” That’s a really nice thing about nature and forest bathing.


So we’ll do breath work. In forest bathing, we have what we call shinrin-kokyu. Shinrin-yoku is forest bathing. Shinrin-kokyu is forest “breathing.” Who amongst you have done breathwork na before, mga breathing exercises? We’ll try it now. Very simple lang, I’ll guide you.


Ako, beginner lang din ako. Pero sa sobrang dali niya, kahit beginner ka after one go expert ka na. Sige. So when we do breath work, breath work is actually just a deep breathing and it complements forest bathing because deep breathing is very relaxing. It triggers kasi our parasympathetic nervous system.


So what we do is we breath deeply. I invite you guys to breath deeply. Hingang malalim…inhale, exhale…


If you want to find out if you’re doing it the correct way, you put your hand here…for the ladies, dito sa may bra strap. Para sa atin, dito sa may breast area, medyo mataas. So when you breathe deeply and inhale, dapat nageexpand yung chest mo. Kasi kung hindi, ibig sabihin you’re doing it wrong–you’re focusing on your abdomen. Dapat dito sa may chest, higher pa.


Breathe deeply, inhale…exhale…


So we inhale through our nose and we exhale through pursed lips.




Ganun ang paghinga. Just remember, hands to your sides and focus on the chest area.


Itong breathing exercise na ito, ang tawag ay 4-7-8. We inhale for 4 seconds, we hold our breath for 7, and we exhale for 8. Inhale through your nose, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and exhale with pursed lips for 8 seconds.


I’ll lead you through it. We’ll do about 10 breaths, more or less. Relaxed position.


Inhale through your nose…hold 7…exhale 8…


Close your eyes…


Just continue that, tuloy-tuloy lang. As you’re breathing, just feel the wind on your skin, pakinggan mo yung mga ibon, langhapin mo yung sariwang hangin.


Now slowly open your eyes. More or less, I can pretty much ascertain that you’re pretty much relaxed. Or maybe even a little lightheaded din if you’re not used to breathing that way. But it really puts your body at peace.


Right now, ang natitrigger natin ang parasympathetic nervous system. This breathing exercise puts us at a better disposition for the rest of the forest bathing session. When we do forest bathing, what we do is actually take a walk through a very beautiful woodsy, forestlike, river environment. Then we take a lot of stops. That’s really one of the main differences between forest bathing and just walking and hiking. Yung pagtigil.


Bakit tayo tumitigil? May mga bagay kasi na hindi natin mapapansin kapag tumigil tayo. That’s what forest bathing does. We stop and then we use all our senses to interact with nature. Right now, ang gagawin natin, dito tayo magbababad. Every stop, there’s an invitation given by the guide. The invitation depends on what is currently being offered to us. Kunyari, ngayon medyo mahangin, so the invitation can be something related to the wind. If it’s a clear day, pwedeng related to the clouds. Depende. Pero this is just an abbreviated forest bathing session.


My invitation to you guys for this session is to choose a spot, look around, don’t forget to look behind you. Minsan pag tumitingin tayo sa paligid, we just see what’s in front of us. We fail to look at what’s behind us. So we look around us and then choose a spot that’s parang may magnet, tapos parang namamagnetize ka sa spot na yun. Pag naramdaman mo yun just go with it. Go to that spot and just have a seat. Sa forest bathing, we call that a sit spot.


So you’ll sit down there for about 15 to 20 minutes and then you just notice what you’re noticing. You use all your senses to notice, to observe what’s around you, what nature is offering us. And then you try as much as possible to limit yourselves from distraction. Try to be in the mood. Again, ang reminder ko kanina: don’t try too hard.


We’ll do that and when you see me standing here, that’s our cue to go back. I do that kasi minsan nagmomoment pa yung mga tao so pag tinatawag mo, “Huy, balik na kayo,” parang nadidisrupt. So basta when you see me standing here, that’s your cue.


May kilala akong participant before, 15 minutes namin siya hinintay kasi hindi kami napapansin. Ok lang, we’ll wait for you. Sige. Alright, so that is of the many stops that we do in a typical forest bathing session. So we stop for 15 to 20 minutes, sometimes for longer depending on the situation. But really, it’s about taking that time to open yourself up and to allow nature also to reveal itself to you. When we do the sit spot, we give nature time to kind of show us the different things about itself or herself.


Ito yung tinatawag namin na slow reveal. Kasi pag nakaupo ka sa isang spot, biglang may ibon na lilipad above your head, or may insecto na dadapo sayo, or biglang may mapapansin ka na bato na 15 minutes ka na nakaupo doon pero ngayon mo lang siya nakita. Yun yung slow reveal na tinatawag natin.


I like it when we do this, we do forest bathing sessions and when we encounter groups that are just hiking–they’re just passing through. You notice a stark contrast between what we’re doing and what they’re doing.


One of the things that we do when we forest bathe is we do sharing circles. We do sharing circles and we share with each other what we’re noticing or what we’re observing. Ang imbitasyon lang or ang prompt is: “I’m noticing ______.”


Ba’t natin to ginagawa? There are three usual responses or reactions when you listen to your companion when you’re forest bathing. Yung una: kapag nakikinig ka sa kasama mo tas sasabihin niya, “Na notice ko yung puno, ang ganda.” Yung unang pwede mong reaction doon, “Oo nga. Na notice ko din yun. Ang ganda ng puno. Grabe.” Yun yung una.


Pangalawa, sabihin ng kasama mo, “Na notice ko yung puno, ang ganda.” Ikaw naman, isipin mo, “Oo nga noh. Nakita ko rin pero it was just in my subconscious level. It was not at that level of consciousness.” Pero nung binanggit ng kasama mo, na notice mo, “Nakita ko din yung punong yun, ang ganda nga.”


The third reaction could be: sabihin ng kasama mo, “Nakita ko yung puno, ang ganda.” Tapos sasabihin mo sa sarili mo, “Anong puno? Wala naman akong nakita na puno na maganda.” So next time, pag naglakad kayo ulit and you stop again. You peel your eyes for that tree or however your companion describes it. So that’s why we do this.


So ulitin ko, yung invitation or yung prompt is: “I’m noticing ____.”


Thank you all for sharing. Ako naman, ang na notice ko mga dragonfly. I saw three kinds. Meron blue, brownish, and meron red. Yun talaga, minsan, kahit na madalas ka nagpupunta sa isang lugar, it can still surprise you. That’s the nice thing about going out into nature. You never really know what you’re going to see. Sometimes you get disappointed kasi when you go to your favorite spot, you expect it to be a certain way or expect to see a certain insect, animal, or bird. Sometimes wala and sometimes meron. But that’s the beauty of it.


That concludes our forest bathing session for this afternoon. It’s really a very abbreviated, abridged version. But I would say it has all the elements already. Personally, why I’m really advocating for this is because I really want to promote or I want to be an instrument in helping others rediscover their connection or their love for nature. It’s in our DNA, diba? We all love nature but we forget. We forget because we live in the city and the city is starved of green spaces.


When we go out into places like this, which are more undisturbed or more pristine, we remember just how beautiful or just how good it feels to be surrounded by nature. Then we rediscover our love and because we love, we protect that which we love. It makes sense to do this.


Yung reminder ko lagi sa mga participants, pag umuuwi sila sa kani-kanilang bahay or work places, you look for a piece of nature in that area. Maybe a plant or aquarium or even a tree, even the sky sometimes is what we take for granted. Everywhere you go merong sky. Tingala ka lang, that’s nature for you. You can already mimic what we do in forest bathing even when you’re in the city.


So yun lang, maraming salamat.




So that was quite an experience. Now, to get to know more about forest bathing and how beneficial these green spaces are to human health, we’d like to talk about this topic a little more with Dr. TJ.


Hi Dr. TJ, welcome to Gubatbp. Podcast.





Hi Dr. TJ!





Hello Bryan, Onggie. Kamusta? Ok ba? Enjoy kayo?





Sobrang enjoy.





Sobrang enjoy and tingin ko, isa ito sa mga nakapag break hindi lang ng monotony, but yung dreariness brought about by the months-long na quarantine. First time ko talaga ito makalabas ng bahay in any meaningful way. So maraming salamat sa pag paunlak sa forest bathing.




Yes, salamat din. Marami talaga sa atin nakukulong sa bahay and a lot of the groups that I also brought out in forest bathing sessions, doon talaga sila pinaka-thankful. Na nakawala sila and they were able to go outdoors into nature.





Mentioning that, narealize ko na, “Oo nga noh? Mahigit isang taon na rin akong hindi makalayo-layo sa bahay.” So maraming salamat, Dr. TJ.


Can you tell us more about paano ka nag start dito sa idea ng forest bathing? Ano yung naging inspirasyon mo or ano yung kwento ng forest bathing dito sa Mt. Purro.





Actually, diba I’m a doctor by profession? After board exams, nakapasa na ako, doctor na ako. Hindi ko pa alam kung ano yung gusto ko gawin. It just so happened na kinailangan ako sa Mt. Purro Nature Reserve. My family needed me to help manage the place.


I took over tapos syempre, like any millennial, ginawan ko ng website, Facebook page, tapos nagisip ako, “Paano pa natin mapopromote? We have this beautiful place. Nature was what we were essentially offering. Ano pa kaya yung pwedeng gawin?” Google search, tapos nakita ko “forest bathing.”


Back then, 2016, narealize ko or parang naisip ko, “Parang ok gawin ito ah.” Syempre, background ko as a doctor nakatulong kasi nga it spoke a lot about nature and its physical benefits. Not only physical, but also sa mental health. Naisip ko, “Why not hold a forest bathing session?”


Ang tawag namin nung una, “Mindfulness in the Forest” patterned after shinrin-yoku. Initially, hindi ako yung guide. Kumuha ako ng kaibigan ko na yoga practitioner, yung typical na pag naisip mo yung ganitong klaseng practice, siya yung maiisip mo. Kinuha ko siyang guide and we held several sessions. After a while, well-received siya pero natigil.


After a while, since I realized how beneficial it is even for my own sanity, I would offer it to my friends or sometimes my students. Recently lang, doon na nagstart yung mas formal ko na practice ng forest bathing.





At kamusta yung experience so far sa mga participants sa forest bathing?





Yung mga sumasama sayo, ano ang kanilang reaction?





Actually, diba nga nabanggit natin kanina nung nag forest bathing tayo during the orientation, yung isa talagang malinaw na malinaw na benefit ng forest bathing is pagkatapos or habang nagfoforest bathing, parang good trip kaagad. You feel so good, it feels so refreshing. You feel relaxed. Makatapak ka palang sa ilog parang ito na yung pakiramdam na sa katawan. Usually, yun yung isang pinakahalata talaga. Hindi mo siya makaka-[???], yung ganung klaseng observation sa mga participants, talagang it further reinforces me or further reinforces why I’m doing this.


Hindi lang sa participants, kahit sa sarili ko. Pag nagdadala ng mga grupo out to forest bathing, ako mismo, I feel really good afterwards. Nakukuha ko yung benefits. Kinukuha ko yung positives from it.


Kaya pasalamat ako sainyong dalawa kasi sinamahan niyo ako kanina. Kasi kung ako lang minsan, malungkot pag magisa so masarap laging may kasama.





And we can attest doon sa pagka-feel good na during and after. Yung binanggit mo kanina, ineexplain mo yung idea ng phytoncides. Oo nga noh, nagbebreathing exercise tayo. Interesting.





I think, yung isa pang interesting–and you touched upon this kanina–I’d like to hear a little bit more…parang isa sa mga reminders mo, “Don’t overthink it.” Parang let it come to you, let it be. Parang sinasabi mo, “Alam mo dapat ito, local ito sayo. Natural sa atin.” Can you talk a little bit about that?





Usually kasi, pag may pinapagawa sa atin, we tend to overthink things. Lalo na tayong mga adults, lalo na pag professional ka pa, if abogado ka, writer, or corporate slave…pag may pinagawa kasi iniisip mo na, “Paano ko gagawin ito…tanungin ko yung mga kasama ko sa group.” We tend to overthink things, but really, the thing I love most about forest bathing is that you really don’t need to do anything. You just need to “be.”


Yun lang, yung pagkakaiba nito, yung “being” natin nasa gitna ng isang forested environment or habang nakatapak tayo sa isang sapa. Yung “being” natin, we put it in a very natural setting so that makes the experience very rich. Yun yung reminder: don’t try too hard. Just be. Magtiwala ka na basta nandiyan ka, nalalanghap yung phytoncides sabi ni Bryan, naririnig mo yung mga ibon or yung crickets. Nakuha mo na yung benefits ng nature. Forest bathing is the best way to get those benefits.





Speaking of benefits of nature, especially ngayong pandemic, isa sa mga emerging concerns ng mga nakatira sa cities or urban places ay yung lack of connection with nature or relation with nature. Pwede kayang parang forest bathing-like yung green spaces sa Metro Manila? Posible kaya yun?




Alam mo, Onggie, pwedeng pwede. Yung forest bathing or any nature interactions, spectrum naman. So sa isang banda ng spectrum, yung pinaka mababaw yung manonood ka sa Netflix ng documentary about nature. Yun palang, nature-immersino na yun kahit papaano. Nasa mindset mo parin…ano yung ginagawa mo habang nanonood ka? Nagphophone, naglalaptop, or nagwowork ka ba? Or are you in that disposition where you’re also just trying to “be.”


So at one end of the spectrum, pwede yung virtual. Sa isang banda, pwede rin naman maghanap ka rin ng pocket of nature or piece of nature in your household. Sabi mo kanina Onggie, may aquarium ka. Pagmasdan mo lang yung mga isda. Or kung plantita ka, plantito ka, pagmasdan mo yung halaman or kung may critters yung halaman mo pagmasdan mo yung mga insekto. Pwedeng pwede.


Pero syempre, kung gusto natin ng mas malalim, lalabas tayo ng bahay tas hahanap tayo ng green space somewhere close to where we live. I think yun yung isang pangangailangan nating mga naninirahan sa ciudad. Those of us living in cities, we need more green spaces to experience nature to do forest bathing. Some of us are luckier than others, pero yung iba wala talagang mapuntahan.





I can attest din doon sa nahirapan mag focus sa start kasi napepressure ako. Ano yung gagawin ko? Saan ako magsisimula? Tapos naalala ko yung sinabi mo na wag puwersahin, let yourself be with nature. I kind of imagined na yung ganung proseso ay calling yung wild selves natin. Unleash siguro para mas mapansin natin at mas ma-notice natin na may certain connections tayo na makikita lang talaga din natin kapag sinuspend natin yung judgment natin or earlier na naiisip natin about sa nangyayari sa buhay natin.


I feel like yung forest bathing is a very enriching experience na after nito, nabanggit mo yung small pockets or things that you can do on how to forest bathe na hindi totally kailangan forest, pero living beings or even elemental. Diba kanina, yung mga bato sa tubig, akala ko masasaktan ako or masusugatan ako, pero nung nakatakap na yung paa ko sobrang comforting.





I like yung point niyo, Bryan, na maaring on the part of the person, hindi siya kailangan pilitin. Gusto ko balikan yung green spaces. How do we create yung green spaces na yun? You also alluded to this a little kanina, Doc, so how do you create that green space?


Malinaw na we have to create within ourselves yung capacity to interact with that green space at hindi mahirap dapat yun. Tulad ng sinasabi mo, don’t overthink it. Pero on the part of that space, how do we then be able to make green spaces in our homes or in parks or in buildings?





So yung green spaces na mas accessible, kailangan talaga natin siyang palaguin kasi hindi naman tayo everyday pwedeng pumunta sa bundok. Ang way to do that, dalawa yung naiisip kong paraan.


Una, very intentional. Magcreate ka talaga ng green space. You have to be very intentional, you fill that space with things that remind you of nature: rocks, plants, flowers, even images. Even yung paint ng walls pwede rin. All of those elements make you think: nature. Tapos dayain mo in such a way na pag nandoon ka sa space, para ka talagang nasa ibang lugar. Parang wala ka sa bahay or nasa labas ng office mo. Sa ganun, you kind of also help your mind be in that kind of disposition.


Yung pangalawang mas importante or as important, yung interior disposition mo. Yung kagustuhan mo pumasok into that kind of disposition na, “I’m going to do forest bathing, I’m going to focus on this plant or this flower or these things that remind me of nature for the next 15 minutes or so.” Yun yung importante. Kasi minsan, kahit gaano kaganda ng puno sa harap mo, kung iniisip mo lang yung Instagram feed mo or yung deadline mo, hindi siya magiging effective.





Parang yung nabanggit mo rin kanina na it’s like a sort of opening up ng sarili mo once you’re there.





It’s about opening up your senses kasi. You open up your senses dapat wala kang distractions as much as possible, which is very difficult for us. Mahirap na mahirap lalo na work from home pa tayo, laging nandiyan yung phone, laptop, tas hindi ka na makadisconnect.


Isa pa, talagang make it very intentional to turn off your phone or put it on silent.





Yun yata, Onggie, yung tinatawag nila na green microbreaks, diba? While working, pay attention doon sa mga fish mo, sa plants mo so that you disconnect for a moment.





Gusto ko balikan na ngayon yung experience natin kanina na forest bathing natin. Isa sa nag-strike sa akin at I suppose sa iba pa or even kay Bryan yung importance ng sound doon sa experience. Sadya ba yun? Kasama ba talaga yun? Yung lagaslas ng tubig, yung huni ng ibon…kasama ba talaga yan?





Kasama siya kasi isa siya sa mga senses natin. Forest bathing is a very sensory-rich experience and the sense of sound or hearing that which really makes us feel very well-immersed in nature. Yung three most relaxing sounds daw: sound of flowing water, birdsong or yung huni ng ibon, tapos trees rustling in the wind. Kanina check na check natin yun.


So tama yun, sir Onggie. Buti naalala mo. Kung gusto mo ng forest bathing atmosphere, pwede ka rin magplay ng Spotify nature sounds para kahit papaano, yung auditory sense of hearing mo makiliti din ng konti. Yung nakakatawa na sabi ng mga guide ko dati, wala daw kapantay yung actual na naririnig mo. Pag nandoon ka na talaga. Pero syempre, you take what you can get. Kung hindi kaya, at least nakakatulong parin siya sa atin.





Na curious ako sa dami ng pwedeng gawin in terms of interacting with nature. Bakit napili mo na ifeature dito sa Mt. Purro yung forest bathing? Ano pa ba yung ibang pwedeng gawin to enhance the experience?





Mt. Purro Nature Reserve ay matatagpuan sa Antipolo at ang Antipolo napakalapit sa Metro Manila. Isa siya sa mga advantages ng lugar na ito, yung general vicinity. Kasi it’s so close to Metro Manila, it’s so accessible and we need more green spaces that are accessible. Yun nga, dahil nga one of the optimal ways to get the benefits of nature is through forest bathing.


Pero syempre, hindi natin makakailat na even just the setting, just being in a natural setting kahit kumakain ka lang diyan or you’re socializing tapos yung backdrop mo is nature…automatic plus 100 points agad yung ginagawa niyo in terms of yung richness niya or yung kulay niya. Kung gusto mo talaga makuha yung pinaka-core benefits or yung pinaka-masusulit mo yun talaga, forest bathing.





Diretsuhin na kita kung ganun. How do people get to join itong forest bathing? Kanina, nagusap-usap na kami ni Bryan na dapat mahagap natin yung rest of the office or kakilala namin. How do we sign up or what do visitors do if they want to experience yung saya ng experience namin?





Sa ngayon talaga, yung forest bathing sessions happens on weekends. We have public or private group sessions. Because of the pandemic, ako, prefer ko private para mas safe. Pero dahil outdoors tayo, ok na ok naman din. Meron kaming Facebook page, “Mt. Purro Nature Reserve” or “Forest Bathing MNL” on Facebook. Yung yung “Manila” ng mga millenials. Like niyo lang yung page tapos message niyo lang and then we’ll schedule a forest bathing session at your convenience.





Hopefully, may mga kakilala ako na also in the corporate world na gusto maranasan ito. Hopefully they listen to this podcast and mag note sila kung papaano, while hindi naman kami influencers ni Bryan, if you value our inputs in your work, maniwala kayo ibang klase ito.





Yung forest bathing, actually sinasabi nila pag forest bathing, nature is our therapist. The guide just opens the doors kasi another word for forest bathing is “forest therapy.” In this day and age na talagang there is a prevalence of mental health illnesses, we’re all stressed out and getting burned out, combined with the dearth of mental health practitioners, why look elsewhere? Lalabas ka lang sa kagubatan or sa ilog, parang mathetherapy ka rin. It’s really worthwhile.





Sometimes, feeling nung iba siguro hindi nila kailangan yung ganitong klase na experience pero it’s really worth trying and see for themselves kung ano yung magiging effect nun sa kanila. Apart dito sa forest bathing naranasan natin kanina, what else can people do dito sa Mt. Purro Nature Reserve.





Dito sa Mt. Purro Nature Reserve, we’re an eco-park so groups can come here just to have a relaxing time. Families, barkadas, couples even. But if you want to do more organized programs like team building sessions or planning seminars, we’re fully equipped to handle all of those. It’s very close to Metro Manila. We treat everyone like our family, talagang feel at home kayo dito.


We feel at home in nature, but we’ll also make you feel more at home dito sa Mt. Purro Nature Reserve.





Maraming, maraming salamat ulit Dr. TJ sa pagpapa-experience sa amin ng forest bathing. Looking forward kami na mas dumami pa yung makaranas pa sa experience na ito.





Marami pang trails at lugar na pwedeng mag forest bathing.





I think yun yung things to look forward to. Certainly, yung break na ito from the quarantines, sulit na sulit. I couldn’t have planned out a better quarantine break than this. Maraming, maraming salamat!







Johnoy Danao – Buntong Hiniga



Thank you for listening to this episode. Gubatbp. and Forest Foundation would like to thank Dr. TJ Malvar for leading us in our forest bathing session and sharing with us the health benefits we get from bathing in the forest.

To see more of TJ Malvar’s work please check out his Facebook page @doctjclinic. You can also learn more about Mt. Purro Nature Reserve through their Facebook page and website www.mountpurronaturereserve.com.

We’d also like to thank our featured musician for this episode, Johnoy Danao. He is a Filipino songwriter, singer, and record producer. His take on kundiman music-has won him several awards.

The song that was played was Buntong-Hininga and it’s available on Spotify.

At www.gubatbp.forestfoundation.ph, you can browse through our maps featured on each episode, and resource materials that you can read and checkout after listening to our episodes.
While there have been efforts to expand the green spaces of Metro Manila, these are some places that you can already visit for your own personal forest bathing sessions.

Nature as Nurturer: Forest Bathing as the New Self-Care

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Gubatbp. featuring Dr. TJ Malvar | July 21, 2021

About the guest


Dr. TJ Malvar

Dr. TJ Malvar leads forest bathing sessions and manages the Mount Purro Nature Reserve alongside his family in Barangay Calawis, Antipolo. He is a medical practitioner who has supported activities on local agriculture, ecotourism, and food security.

Featured musician

Johnoy Danao is a Filipino songwriter, singer, and record producer. His take on kundiman music-has won him several awards.

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