Clint Holton P. Potestas introduces us to a lady who found a new way of getting healthy.

Cheryl takes in her first slice of the steamed cabbage drizzled with breadcrumbs at a café. From how she minces and chews, it looks delectable and actually, a healthier option than her most likeable menu of feel-good treats – anything fried, broiled, roasted, processed, and a no-brainer criterion, fast.

“Burger at McDonald’s after?” she restrains her laughter and teases me about dinning at a fast food chain next, which is, I anticipate, less likely to happen. Ever since Cheryl Pages-Alba underwent detoxification in January of this year, she now opts for vegetables and fruits in the meal plan. She never diets. And she used to eat voraciously.

“I still eat at fast food chains, but I have observed that my cravings have been lessened. Never deprive your body of the food that you’ve been accustomed to because it could create worse problems than actually overeating it. So for you, one burger is enough instead of two,” she laughs right after sharing a scientific finding she learned during the session called Holistic Approach to Self Healing (Hash).

October 2010, Cheryl complained of a pain in her abdominal region. As always, she self-diagnosed. She decided to pop over-the-counter pills – for migraine, common colds, cough, you name it – which she used to carry in her bag. When the pain became more disturbing and chronic, she submitted to an ultrasound. The doctors found four stones in her gallbladder. After four medical opinions, the only cure was surgery.

Desperate for another remedy, she researched and availed of several detoxification procedures that can be done at home, but none of them worked: the pain, the toxic stones, and the fear remained. So she hoped for courses unseen: divine intervention

“Anything but surgery,” she says, recalling the many days searching for an alternative solution that included asking a shaman (famous for his miraculous healing ability, according to hearsay) to intercede using a stick poked onto the affected region and a visit to the icon of the white dancing Sto. Nino that (as witnessed by Cheryl) moved around, seemingly following a dance step.

“It was an answered prayer. Early this year, my mom came across a magazine article about this detoxification system in Manila. I never lost hope, so I flew there with my husband to join,” she goes on. “My husband was complaining ‘why do we have to listen and stay for the seminar?’. Ironically, when he heard about the little-known facts about eating well and staying healthy, he was the one who took down notes and became a believer.”

She is married to Jay Alba, the owner and manager of Alba Uno Hotel, with two daughters: three-year old Milana, and Summer, 1 year old. Juggling her mom and wife duties, she also manages Bright Academy, Taters (in Ayala Cinema and the newly-opened branch in Parkmall), Play House, and My Playroom – all under Pages Holdings, a family-owned group of establishments. Cheryl has always been on top of her game even when she was still studying Business Management at the Centre for International Education and completed the program in Northwood University in Florida.

“Since the last detox, I never felt the pain in my stomach. During the 36-hour program, I learned that indeed the body has its natural way of healing. We just have to learn how to tap it according to how it responds,” she relates, a little apologetic for the days when she overly relied on over-the-counter pills for instant relief. “I could not explain the inner peace I felt after the program. I thought all the while that I am completely healthy because I am still 26 years old.”

Today until tomorrow, with Cheryl’s marketing arm, Hash is in Cebu for the first time at the Marco Polo featuring the testimonies of fashion designer (who supplies Philippine-made fabrics to Chanel) Jean Goulbourn. She explains, “I want to share to the Cebuanos that inner peace. That’s why I am bringing it here. My entire family will be joining, and I know that it’s my word against everybody. I am a little bit anxious, but let’s see the effect.”

And then Cheryl confesses, “Okay, it’s actually for selfish reasons – I am scared of short flights.”