07 December 2007

Ilog Maria: Closer Than You Think

Back during the times we used to frequent our sanctuary in Tagaytay, I used to regularly drop by several places, one of them being Nature's Original where I usually get my stock of what-have-you's such as incense, vegetarian supplies and other unique items of fancy.
After moving to Subic Bay, one of the other places I used to visit that I began to miss was Ilog Maria. I started feeling the pangs once my supplies, practically available only from their farm, started running dry on me and I began longing for the scent and comfort they usually brought to me and my family.
So deep was my longing that I decided to google anything on Ilog Maria. I eventually found myself on the doorsteps of their website, quickly going through the products found on their Product Catalogue section and browsing through their FAQs. Oh, joy! There, I found all my favorite products.
Seeing that the website is frequently updated, I felt confident enough to sign up as a registered user on the site. After receiving an email to which I quickly confirmed to, my account was activated and I immediately proceeded to place my favorite items in the shopping cart. After going through everything I had placed in the cart, removing some items to stick to my self-imposed budget and double-checking if I had everything I really wanted, I checked them all out and waited. The whole process lasted no more than a few minutes, my decision-making process taking the longest time. I immediately received an email confirming my order and was told to keep tabs while they make sure they had everything I ordered in inventory.
I waited, and early the following day, Joel Magsaysay (the owner) emailed me confirming that they did have everything in stock. The email stated that they tended to respond to emails and orders in the mornings. He then proceeded to give me instructions on how to make payment. Glad that it was Joel who emailed me, I jumped at the chance to send him my regards and to let him know how we were doing.
Joel presented me with 7 payment options to get my payment across, which I must say is very savvy of him, and convenient for us: BPI ATM deposit, BPI online banking check-free payment, BPI over-the-counter deposit, GCash (via SMS or Globe business centers/accredited outlets) and Smart Money (via SMS or Smart wireless centers/Smart Padala centers).
After weighing my options, and going through my own process of elimination, taking the following factors into consideration:
  1. BPI Account or ATM Payment - I used to have a BPI account and was one of the first adopters of online banking in the country, as I recall way back in 1998, but I made the mistake of neglecting its low maintaing balance sometime last year when I ceased using it frequently, and my usual transactions stopped, when we moved residence. Suddenly, I found my account closed. That payment option is out.
  2. Smart Money - I gave up my Smart line and just kept my Globe line, augmented with a Sun line. I do have a Smart number, but it is issued by one of my clients for my use while I remain their consultant. I am not making the same mistake twice. Smart already refused to transfer a heavily used Smart money account to a prepaid line I took just to keep my account going when I dropped my postpaid line. Too bad for them, I stopped using Smart Money since. I mean, I had no choice! My account was linked to my OLD postpaid line that didn't exist anymore! I had more than P500 in that account and they never even considered that. This option too, out the drain. I wouldn't go to a wireless center just to transfer money with better options at hand, besides, parking is a hassle in their small, cramped wireless center in Olongapo, and we have no 7-11s in Subic Bay.

  3. GCash - Problem is, I had used my GCash wallet several times in the past few months that I only had P44.00 left! I wouldn't go out just to see to it that this transaction was done properly. Also, their business center is too far out in Olongapo to merit a trip.

Considering all these factors, and the fact that I had an easy way out, I simply sent a messenger to deposit the amount at BPI. upon his return, I scanned the deposit slip and emailed it back to Joel. I know, shame on me, not patronizing the tech route in spite of my profession, but this was really the most convenient given the circumstances. Hehe.

My total order amounted to P1,317.00 and since the total weight was 2Kgs, I just had to add an additional P155.00 for shipping.

Joel confirmed receipt of my email, including the scanned deposit slip, at 6AM the following day and shipped the products out.

I got my order via FedEx/Air21 at 10AM, in the jungles of Subic, the day after it was shipped. Total time it took me from placing the order, paying and finally receiving the order: around 60hrs or less than 3 days. Not bad, not bad at all! This all happened late in September of this year. It definitely saved me an unplanned trip, coerced by a major event such as a family reunion, with 3 kids a-lug and a 6 hour drive ahead of me.

The transaction may not have been true-blue full cycle e-Commerce, but which I consider a practical application of it nonetheless.

As you see from the picture above, this is all that is left from the original order, 2 months after. I particularly enjoy using their soap, which as you see from the picture is all but gone. We enjoy the Eucalyptus-Ginger, Lavender, Rosemary and Spearmint-Oatmeal most of all, each of them ideal for certain moods. I, for one, use the spearmint-oatmeal soap in the morning for a good perk up and the lavender soap for an evening relax.

Let me share with you how we personally use the rest of the products we usually buy.

The honey propolis shampoo and lavender liquid soap are very good replacements for their more commercially-available, chemically-laced commercial equivalents. They both smell really wonderful and actually make you feel cool and clean after using them.

I use their essential peppermint oil as a massaging agent on my temples whenever I have a headache or if I simply want to relax. For a whole body massage, which by the way only my wife can give me, I use their healing massage oil scented with a blend of different essential oils. The patchouli oil I use as a daily perfume on my handkerchief. It actually reminds me of the hippie lifestyle somehow. I also drop a small amount on the incandescent bulb in our bedroom at night before I switch it on for an aromatic diffusion. I really can't explain my addiction to this scent.

I keep some propolis throat spray at home in case anyone complains of a sore throat. I know my body and I swear that this product saved me from fever on many an ocassion. The times I ignored those first symptoms, it worsened. My dad always keeps one in his pocket as a breath freshener. In fact, he has learned to purchase a big container which he keeps in the ref and refills his small pocket-sized spray bottle with.

I take my bee pollen first thing in the morning before breakfast as a weight reducer and vitamin supplement, or whenever I need that extra boost for my biking. My lola gained weight after I had her take a scoopful after meals, and she has a hard time trying to gain weight. Oh, by the way, she's pushing 88 years old and as strong as a she-ox.

My children use the sting-less insect repellant frequently. It is made of natural ingredients such as citronella and lemongrass, so I prefer it over off lotion. It is our secret weapon against dengue, specially since we literally live in a forested area.

Ang before I forget, last but not least is one of the most important Ilog Maria products in our arsenal of natural remedies: their propolis ointment. This, I have to say, is something I take with me all the time in my travels. I use it to treat burns, wounds and 'singaw' (canker sores, I think). Each bout I have with the singaw would usually last a few weeks and really upset my mood and movement because of the pain. These usually start off, in my case, whenever I bite my lip or whenever I feel I am overworking my body with too much late nights and stressful days. At the first signs of a singaw, and if I apply the ointment early enough, it almost always nips it in the bud, so to speak.

Their products, which form part of our essential supplies, is why my family (and my good friends know this) never keeps pharmaceutical products in our medicine cabinet.

For more information on Ilog Maria and the wonderful family that runs it, visit http://www.ilogmaria.com/

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