Remi Santiago-Bautista: Soul food
MANILA, Philippines - No one who knew Remi Santiago-Bautista over 10 years ago thought she would turn out to be what she is now – a healthy, vibrant woman in her 60s who heals family and friends from terminal and debilitating illnesses through medicine she made herself. She is also a counselor in her own right who empowers poor and struggling families in her community to financial sustainability.
When her husband who survived a stroke finally succumbed to diabetes and other critical illnesses in 2002, Remi slipped in and out of depression, high blood pressure, and arthritis. In 2007, her conditions culminated into a mild stroke, weakening and occasionally numbing the nerves and muscles on her right side, also causing problems in walking and balancing.
“Many times I just fell when walking,” Remi recounts.
Her two sons’ love helped her pull through her grief and physical pain. “I probably wouldn’t have made it if not for them,” she tells Rappler somberly. Remi was then motivated to research on different natural cures to heal herself and to help lessen expenses. At that time, she was taking medicine amounting to over P500 per day.
In her research and conversations with doctors and friends, she stumbled upon what she calls luyang dilaw (turmeric), a root that looks like ginger but has smaller fingers and a dark yellow flesh.
She boiled and religiously drank tea from turmeric every day, and within a few weeks felt significant relief from body pain. Moreover, her balance improved. She slowly weaned herself off from her medications.
But as she became stronger and started traveling, she wanted to bring her turmeric wherever she went. After months of experimentation, she was able to make her own turmeric powder and capsules from scratch and, later on, powder from other plants with medicinal value as well, like malunggay (moringa).
What also made the homemade medicine special was Remi’s intention. “When I make it, I pray for the healing of the person who will be taking it,” she says.
She freely gave her powder and capsules to family and friends. When they experienced relief from physical conditions like arthritis and back pain, they stepped up and paid Remi for her efforts. They also spread the word among their friends. Soon, Remi’s homemade remedies were healing a bigger community of friends.
Today, Remi also shares her knowledge on homemade natural remedies with friends; she also volunteers in talks and workshops with indigent communities.
“Many people don’t know that the plants just around them can cure them,” Remi reveals. “And they spend a lot on medicines they have a hard time paying for.”
Remi gives medicine not only for the body, but also for the soul. She regularly sits down, has coffee and listens – really listens – to street criminals and struggling families with little or no income in her community in Quezon City.
She found out eventually that what these people in her community needed was livelihood. She challenged them: “If I help you have a livelihood, will you take responsibility?” They said yes, so she gave them a small capital to work with as coconut vendors, along with her trust. She rewarded with incentives when they sold more coconuts.
With Remi’s trust and guidance, these vendors’ lives improved. One young man who was consistently in and out of jail finally ended that pattern.
Like a mother who only cares for her children’s health, Remi feeds the kids in her community nutritious meals she prepared herself when she can. These are mostly the kids of the criminals and struggling vendors in her community. “When I have the money to spare, I prepare food for them,” Remi says.
She is ever-present to the parents of these kids too, giving not only advice on nutritious food and home remedies but on life as well.
Asked how she finds the energy to do all this work, Remi says, “When I got well from my sicknesses, I was just so grateful. I feel that I should double the help I give.”
To her, there is nothing extraordinary about what she is doing – she is simply doing what she feels she has to do. But to her family, friends, and community who are now healthier or had their lives completely turned around, what she did — and is still doing — was anything but ordinary.
To know more about the benefits of taking turmeric, watch this video:
If you would like to support Remi Santiago-Bautista’s causes, message her on Facebook.
Traveling Light.Claire Madarang is a writer, traveler, and seeker. Her wanderlust takes her on adventures like backpacking for 7 weeks straight. Her seeking leads her to different wellness practices like meditation and healthy (mostly vegetarian) eating. Follow her adventures, tips, and epiphanies at her blog,