His interest in ?integrative medicine? began when he was a medical student at the University of the Philippines in Manila.
That was the start of a new perspective that eventually brought Dr. Romy B. Paredes to Cebu City where he set up Bio-Integrative Healthlink Center.
Hearing success stories from some professors and doctors about how the practice cured illnesses and prevented disease aroused the young mans? curiosity.
Since there were no extensive literature about it at the time, Paredes had to use his own initiative to research and ask those who knew about the new field.
Integrative medicine is a medical approach that combines conventional and alternative medical treatments for ailments.
?At that time, I was starting my residency as a surgeon but I stopped after a month or two because I was not happy anymore,? said Paredes, 33.
A few months after he gave up the ?conventional way of treating ailments,? he and his wife, Dr. Milagros Uy, a radiologist, decided to leave Manila.
?We're both laking probinsya so we wanted to go home to the province but we couldn?t agree on which place to live,? said Paredes, who was born in Abra province and raised in Ilocos. HIs wife comes from Jolo Sulu.
? So I bought a national map and saw that Cebu is in the center. We decided to come to Cebu in early 2000.?
The couple started from scratch. The only person they knew in Cebu was his wife's sister.
While his wife started her residency in one of the local hospitals, Paredes decided to venture into the transportation business as a taxi operator.
But his interest in integrative medicine did not stop. He continued reading about the topic and stayed in touch with some professors.
?My transportation business was doing well. From one unit, we operated taxi six units and had 11 drivers working 24-hour shifts. But we stopped in 2003 because one of our drivers was held-up and got killed.?
That year he left for the United States and studied integrative medicine for three months.
Under the guidance of two Filipino integrative medicine practitioners, Dr. Corazon Ibarra and Dr. Hector delos Santos, Paredes returned to Cebu with high hopes of establishing a center.
In early 2005, he set up the the Bio-Integrative Healthlink Center.
He invested P200,000 in a 35-square meter office in M.J. Cuenco corner Gen. Maxilom Avenue. (The center has expanded to 80 sq.m.)
There were few clients when the center opened. He attributed this to low public awareness about integrative medicine.
?There's the misconception that integrative medicine rejects conventional medicine. That is not the case. We also do not accept alternative therapies uncritically,? he said.
Paredes said integrative medicine is the avenue for the ?appropriate use of conventional and alternative methods to facilitate the body's innate healing response.?
Their first client, a four-year-old boy suffering from epilepsy, was a complicated case.
After undergoing a series of therapies such as detoxification, homeopathic and immuno-therapy, the child is doing well, he said.
After that ?successful treatment? came several clients from low-income to high-income individuals and families seeking a cure for ailments ranging from a simple cold to cancer.
?The success of the center comes more from word-of-mouth advertising and referrals because those who were able to experience it tell others. It has a domino effect,? he said.
After three years, the couple got a return of investment, he said.
He ventured into other businesses, operating Floroda Marketing for the distribution of health products, and two farms in Argao for poultry and organic farming.
Plans are also in the pipeline to put up a bigger integrative health center in Cebu.
Paredes said the field is not widely accepted yet as part of mainstream medical practice because of lack of promotion and awareness.
The biggest challenge is explaining to patients that there is no ?magic? cure for ailments.
?There are those who come to us when their condition is already the worst. We are the last resort so when the treatment does not go well, they blame us,? Paredes said.
After four years, Paredes said his greatest reward is seeing his patents get well.
As an entrepreneur-doctor, he has a philosophy about growth.
?When you enter a business, think of money as energy because if you do, it will just flow and you will just follow the principles of energy...that it has to flow for it to have life.?
?Like energy, whatever flows out, flows in. So when you lose money, it would not be that hard to accept,? said Paredes.