Rose Prudente-Jocson, FTHub Forest Bathing Guide and soon to be Forest Therapy Practitioner lives in the Philippines and was asked to design and lead a Forest Bathing program in a forest run by one of the biggest development companies in the country. Measuring blood pressure and mood states of the participants, she is having great results. After 30 years of guiding Outdoor travels, taking students and public groups to the forests and the mountains, she thought she was ready to retire. But she is just beginning with big projects underway and up ahead.
“When I was in elementary school I lived on a sort of farm with my grandparents, who grew rambutan and lanzones fruit trees, so I was used to climbing trees and have very vivid memories of bathing in rivers. I think that’s how it started”.
“In the University of Philippines, where I studied Bachelor in Sports Science, I joined a couple of mountaineer groups, started climbing mountains, and I became co-founder of an outdoor group as well and was in a diving school too. We later formed a nature travel business, Lakbay Kalikasan, an educational group tour and started taking students outdoors. In 1999, we formally incorporated this and we are still operating under the name of The World of Outbound.
“We’ve been doing these tours and I’ve been guiding for 29 years now. I’ve seen while guiding Japanese and other Asians that they were doing something like forest bathing. Looking back at some pictures, now I realize they were kind of doing forest bathing, just sitting there stimulating the senses.
“Lately I thought ‘I’m done guiding people’, I’ve been doing it for such a long time… But this year I was asked by the Forest Foundation Philippines to come up with a plan to establish a forest bathing program on a specific site for Ayala Land at the ALI Carbon Forest in Alaminos, Laguna”.
Forest Bathing “scores”
“I had a very basic knowledge, just reading some books. And then FTHub got my attention, it was very scientific, I saw a lot of research, even before I signed up I was using those as reference for my project. I was really very happy that the group gave me substantial support for this training. I looked forward to attending the classes every week, one time I even did a walk with Marta at 10 in the evening and it was great. I’m thankful for the knowledge and getting to know others…
“Part of the program is measuring blood pressure before and after the walk, and 90% of the participants really had lower blood pressures, more significantly those who had higher levels before the walk. I also measured their mood states. My husband, who is my biggest critic, was skeptical about the practice. But when he computed his mood state before, he scored 50 and when he got home, scored 1. That’s a very big change”.
“Instead of having a nap in the afternoon, as he always does, he had a lot of energy, he had a workshop and said he could feel the impact, attended the workshop and felt sharper, brighter, and was even complimented by his superiors, they said it was his best workshop. He now believes that the effects on forest bathing grows in you with time”.
Renewed and energized
“People tell me they feel happier than usual, have more energy, that they can work longer throughout the day, and even myself. I can work much longer than needed. I’ve been very stressed lately but when I started leading the walks, experiencing it myself, I felt more relaxed and happier”.
“I’ve been leading walks for people connected to the forest, from the Forest Foundation and Ayala Land, which is one of the biggest land developers in the country. They allow us to use that part of the forest. The PUNLA foresters, caretakers of the forest, they come out refreshed and excited, felt forest bathing makes a lot of difference.
“They said ‘this feels different’, like looking at the forest from a different perspective. Even people who work in an office tell me they have more energy and that it lasts up to two weeks, they say ‘I still feel the difference within me’. My goal is to help establish more Forest Bathing trails and to promote this well-being practice to students, companies, and even the elderly.
“I was ready to retire from guiding, but this is a new opportunity. I’ve been praying for Him to show me where I’m needed”.
Ph: Courtesy Rose Jocson