DIY Ge lai practices (Chinese confinement) in Manila

As the daughter of a pure Chinese mother, my mom expects me to undergo the traditional Chinese “confinement” or “ge lai” post-partum.  This is supposed to speed up your recovery after childbirth and ensure that you don’t feel any untoward effects due to childbirth as you age.  I didn’t follow this to the letter when our first baby was born, but I plan to try to adhere a little more with our second.  My mom underwent this tradition but unfortunately she never learned any practices or recipes from my grandmother (who did this all for her) so I’m sort of winging it or doing it myself and asking advice from my close friends and relatives.

I found some great resources online regarding this practice, but few recipes and information on where where to buy the things I needed such as the tea, Chinese wine/Seravallo wine, herbs, etc.  Luckily a trip to Binondo/Ongpin solved all that!

We headed to Binondo on a Sunday to look for a Chinese drugstore.  Hong Kong Chinese Drugstore along Ongpin was closed but as we were driving around we saw a Chinese drugstore across the fruit stands in Salazar where I was able to buy Chinese herbs for the following types of tea:

  1. Seng-hwa-teng tea – to clean out “dirty blood,” should be taken for the first 3 mornings after giving birth.  This cost 40 pesos per pack (1 small pack per day) only.  Instructions for this were to boil in water until the volume is reduced by half.
  2. O-tso-tong-sim tea – to be taken from the 4th to the 30th day post-partum as replacement for water.  This cost 1,680 for a month’s supply.  Instructions were just to boil and drink either hot, warm or room temperature but not cold.

I was also looking for native chocolate tablea from La Resurreccion and was hunting around Ongpin near the church for the stall but found out from a tricycle driver that they had moved to a permanent shop in Benavidez.  Sadly, La Resurreccion is closed on Sundays good thing the lady in the neighboring store informed me that I could buy it in Chinese groceries around the area.

Of course, for Chinese groceries I always go to Bee Tin where you can find almost everything you need.  This is where I buy tamarind paste, Malaysian white coffee, etc.  In preparation for meals post giving birth, I bought the following:

  1. Seravallo tonic wine – 480 pesos, to be taken after menstrual bleeding stops, estimated on the 14th day post-partum according to the owner of the grocery
  2. Black sesame oil – 280 pesos for a big bottle
  3. La Resurreccion tablea – Unsweetened is 750 pesos for 100 tablets, sweetened is 700 pesos for 100 pieces of tablea.  Suggest you get the unsweetened and just add sugar to your liking
  4. Sibut herbs – 250 pesos for 10 servings (individually packed)

I’m currently in the process of looking for recipes for black/native sesame chicken and other confinement recipes for my DIY confinement.  Any resources/links you can all share with me would be much appreciated.  =)

Links to other super helpful posts on ge lai are as follows:

This Mom’s Life

Chronicles of a Nursing Mom

Smart Parenting Article

Everyday Mommy Diary


Where to buy? Things I’m happy I found in Manila

Where can I buy this or that???

Most people into cooking/crafting and a lot of mommies too here in the Philippines probably share my dilemma that a lot of important things are quite hard to find, or if so, only found in specialty shops.  Here’s a quick list of things that I’ve been searching for that I’m quite happy to have found in places around town.  🙂  Feel free to comment and/or add!


Za’atar and sumac – Assad Mini Mart (Makati and UN Avenue); you can find Za’atar in Spices and Flavours in Salcedo Market but at more than double the price in Assad as of July 2013

Natural peanut butter (without hydrogenated oils) – Landmark Supermarket, Makati

Aluminum-free baking powder – Healthy Options (any branch should have it)

Whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour, self-rising flour – Healthy Options, Market Market Supermarket, Bake Masters

Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce – Metro Market Market Supermarket

Tahini – Healthy Options, Santi’s, Kashmir stall in the Saturday Market in Salcedo Park

Fresh paneer – Assad Mini Mart

Rennet – apparently you can order from UP Los Banos – still trying to figure out how to get my hands on some without going all the way there!

Blocks of unsweetened, dark, semi-sweet, white chocolate, Dutched cocoa and Valhrona chocolate too – Chefs’ Nook, Bake Masters in Sucat

Black chicken/native chicken – Salcedo Market every Saturday, Sunday market in Greenhills

Water chestnuts – Metro Supermarket, Alabang Town Center (then would probably have it in Market Market too!)

Whole wheat pastry flour – Healthy Options

Liquid smoke (Hickory) – Metro Supermarket, Rustan’s Supermarket

Lawry’s Seasoned Salt – S&R

Tapioca flour – Spices and Flavours (they closed their branch in Market! Market! so now you have to find them in the Salcedo Market) and SM Makati

Potato starch – Bake Masters Sucat

Buttermilk – Rizal Dairy Farms in Salcedo Market or at their stall in Market! Market!

Biscoff cookie butter – Metro Market! Market!

Fresh buffalo mozarella – Santi’s and S&R sometimes


Carbon steel wok – True Value carries one by Ken Hom but I ordered mine from The Wok Shop in San Francisco and had it sent through Johnny Air

Mommy-related items

Bellybuds – Babyland, Glorietta 3 near Mercury Drug

Breastmilk bags – Mothercare, Baby Company, or on

Breast pumps – Mothercare, Rustan’s, Baby Company or order through Amazon, even with shipping cost it is much cheaper

Lactation massage – Lita Nery, Mom massage