Sprightly retiree Ooi Beng Soon has not let age slow him down. While many of his peers are taking things easy, the 72-year-old man is still full of energy.
The Penangite goes hiking regularly and is arguably fitter than some of those who are much younger.
He is a familiar face on the hiking trails around Penang, together with a group of like-minded, health-conscious friends who enjoy sweating it out.
In his grip is usually a walking stick with an ornate animal head handle that he carved. The motifs range from dragons and snakes, to horses and eagles.
They are made from pieces of wood he finds lying around, and take between 60 and 150 hours to complete, depending on the intricacies of the carvings.
Ooi, who is called “sifu” by other hikers, has a knack for carving. He has been working with materials such as wood, plasticine and clay since his schooldays to make all kinds of figurines.
“Someone with a third eye once told me that I was a carpenter in my past life.
“In Buddhism, the belief is that all living beings are reincarnated. So perhaps that talent has been downloaded into me,” he quipped.
In this life, Ooi was a salesman for a household and consumer products company, rising to the position of branch manager after 18 years.
He was stationed in China in the 1990s to open up new markets for the brand, before returning home to help in his family business, eventually retiring in 2005.
After a successful and fulfilling life, Ooi wanted to give something back to society … by giving free massages to those with niggling aches and injuries.
On the hiking trails, he meets many people with such problems. He would run his palms over their affected areas and he said many would find their discomfort gone. That’s because he said his “treatment” is no regular massage, but a technique known as Origin Point Medicine that uses no drugs or remedies.
Rather, it is an alternative treatment approach based on the belief that all illness, diseases or disorders originate from blockages in the body.
Ooi has learnt to apply deep pressure and massages to clear these blockages so blood flow returns to normal, which will ultimately allow the body to heal itself.
“Almost anyone can learn and apply this principle and technique to help themselves and others,” he said when met at the Buddhist Triple Wisdom Hall on Pangkor Road.
Ooi has been providing his services here for free between 10am and noon every Monday to Saturday, for the past two years. He is assisted by several helpers who are also adept at the technique.
“It was created by Taiwanese doctor Chang Chao-Han after his wife came down with cancer. They first tried Western medicine and removed the tumour, but it returned. Later, they tried Chinese medicine but the cancer kept spreading. Out of options, Chang, who had knowledge in acupuncture, tried massaging his wife at certain points and it brought her comfort,” said Ooi.
Chang’s wife passed away, but the relief the massages offered her led Chang to develop the technique further and share it with everyone for free so they could help themselves.
“Many work their whole life to accumulate wealth but spend it all within a few years when they fall sick. It’s even worse when the treatment doesn’t cure or alleviate their suffering,” he said.
Ooi was quick to point out that Origin Point Medicine is not meant to replace regular medical treatment but is another option, should the former not be effective.
“We don’t do anything to heal you but merely release blockages so your own body and immune system can heal itself,” added Ooi, who works on about 15 patients a day.
Among them was cancer patient Chin Soo Wah, who has been visiting Ooi daily for the past month, after hearing about the massage from a friend.
“While the massages were rather painful at first, after a while it helped reduce the side effects and discomfort I was experiencing from my treatments. I came with an open mind and it worked for me. So, I would recommend it to others,” Chin said.
Besides using his palms and elbows, Ooi, thanks to his wood carving skills, has also come up with several customised massage tools.