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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Farm: Organic Cuisine here, and Spa Therapy there . . .


Okay, so this farm is not even remotely close to Old Mcdonald’s: No pigs, cows, dogs, or cats. The only sounds you will hear will be leaves rustling, birds chirping and water splashing against an overall silence. Peaceful and relaxing in its quiet, landscaped beauty of greenery, The Farm is the grand result of a perfect collaboration between God’s natural creation and man’s artistry.

The three-hour trip by bus was all worth the effort when after leaving the polluted city with stressful, endless traffic, I would feast my eyes on a scenery reminiscent of descriptions of Eden. The journey of anticipation began after the bus trip, when the shuttle picked me up from the station and drove me along a long, quiet, narrow road bordered by trees. For 15 minutes, the shuttle felt like it was taking me deep inside the forest. All there was to see were trees and more trees, no other vehicle passed our way. I felt like I was entering a mystical forest. My imagination started to go on active mode as I pictured fairies, gnomes, and centaurs about to stop me on the road and take me deeper into a magical forest.


The Healing Power of Nature
Finally I reached the resort safe and sound. No magical beings encountered. I was honored instead with a warm reception by a blonde, gentle-speaking fair lady of the farm who turned out to be the General Manager, Ms. Tania Hofer. I was offered a moist towel and a refreshment of buko juice upon alighting from the shuttle.

She briefed me on the philosophy behind The Farm’s existence and what to expect during my stay. We would start with a visit to the medicine man for a chat and a Live Blood Analysis--- one of the unique highlights of The Farm experience.

We proceeded to meet with Dr. Rounville Bardonado who explained the medical aspect of the programs offered at The Farm, and who also performed the Live Blood Analysis ritual.


A Drop of Blood Can Tell One’s History
Despite fearing the needle, we decided to brave the Live Blood Analysis for curiosity’s sake. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the needle prick was quick and painless. I felt silly for even hesitating over an itty bitty needle. The whole process just took all of five minutes. After extraction, the blood drop was magnified and presented in the computer screen. It was interesting to see my very own blood cells like animated round balls moving about. There were some irregular, star-shaped cells that I was told were due to environmental stress, diet and lack of Vitamin B.

An observation I have to point out was that hardly any one working there used perfume. It was later explained by the doctor that aside from restricting food intake to whole, natural vegetation even external applications like perfumes, all of which have chemicals, were avoided too. That’s when it hit me what they were advocating was a major lifestyle change. Can you imagine yourself not using any fragrance at all, even in your soaps and colognes, or avoiding make up altogether because of its chemical content? I’m sure it doesn’t just end there. It is no doubt an ideal practice, but a difficult one for perfume-lovers like me. Most women, and some men, I’m sure would not be able to give up their cosmetics totally. Aside from perfumes, the doctor explained that even pesticides are frowned upon for use on vegetable gardens.

Colon cleansing
Until the good doctor discussed about the colon, I wasn’t aware it was even there, much less, given it any thought or importance. So it was newsflash to me when he explained its significance in the whole inner cleansing process. It takes 4 to 6 hours of digestion before food is passed on to the small intestines, where nutrients are absorbed, then it moves to the colons to be eliminated. The colon, he points out, is more than just a major waste area. It is also where “prana” is absorbed. Prana, a terminology from Aryuveda is also the “chi” in Chinese and the life force or negative ions in western terminology. Every living thing has energy or an aura, including the plants we eat. Are you still with me?

“The increasing incidence of colon cancer is linked to our diet and constipation. The colon suffers the most from accumulated toxins.” Dr. Bardonado also informs us that “We start to decay from inside particularly in the colon area. So if our diet has a lot of toxins and bacteria then we are absorbing poison. We can feel it in the form of headaches, dizziness, or low energy level. To regain our health, we need to clean the colon area first. The body is constantly exposed to toxins everyday through food, air, water, and other chemicals. We accumulate toxins faster than we eliminate them. Detox means clearing of the toxins from our body. This can be accomplished in twenty one days instead of only 7 days of treatment.” He recommends that we detox on a regular basis to maintain good health.


Purely Vegan Meals
I got a taste of how a vegetarian’s life is like. No animal protein, no dairy, no eggs as only natural, unadulterated dishes were served, raw or warm at Alive. The Farm’s only restaurant uses vegetables and herbs grown organically in its backyard garden and served dehydrated instead of being cooked so as not to destroy the nutritional properties and enzymes of the foods. The whole health and nutrition philosophy of The Farm lifestyle was inspired by Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, who said: “Let food by thy medicine and let medicine by thy food.”


Gardens, Lakes, Pools, Spa, and a 300 year-old Mango Tree
The stroll around the 9 hectare developed area of the Farm was refreshing and calming as we passed its beautifully landscaped grounds and water features. Our first stop was in a romantic garden that had a 300-year old Mango tree providing shade. We were told this venue had witnessed many wedding receptions already with its breezy location and dreamy nightlights. We passed a large pond with a fountain at the center where three white ducks were about to take a swim, oblivious to anybody walking by.

After walking by several meditation areas, we stopped at the Master Villa named Rempe, after the owner, where guests have a great view of Mt. Malarayat from the living room and outdoor sitting room. It also has its own heated pool.


The Jungle Gym, located across the Spa therapy area called Salus per Aqua, is surrounded by glass walls so guests have a pleasant view while working out. After walking through narrow foot paths that twisted and turned, we found ourselves in the waterfall pool. Guests can request to have this pool heated if they wanted to. A few more twist and turns, then we were in the secluded library that offers a lounge chair and a bench fronting a mini-lake for peaceful reading.


Viewing the Sulu Terrace Suites, which is modeled after the Ifugao huts, followed. This quaint two-level structure with a sitting room and twin beds at the second floor, has an outdoor lounge and bathroom located in the lower level. The tour wrapped up with a visit to the main meditation area for yoga sessions, organic garden and finally, the south pool. All areas, I must say, were a visual treat, picture perfect with its landscaped setting.


“Glass-Sucking-Toxins” Therapy
The finale of my stay was a massage therapy at the Salus per Aqua. From the reception, I could see the infinity pool against a scenic backdrop of verdant mountains and blue skies. The clear, blue pool, surrounded by wooden deck floors and lounge chairs, was so inviting that I was getting impatient waiting for my scheduled massage. The cabanas on the side looked so cool and relaxing with its white covered mats and white curtains flowing with the wind, I wanted to just jump in and sleep.

At the Reception, they politely and confidently recommended the ideal therapy for my back pains. I was told to try the Ventosa Moxa which is the Philippine’s version of the Thai, Swedish, and Shiatsu massage. Several glasses are used to “suck out” the toxins from the body after being laced inside with alcohol then lit for a second to create a vacuum, which allows it to latch on the skin. The masseuse has to be quick and orderly to be able accomplish the simultaneous use of these glasses for several minutes of “sucking” massage. Initially, I was apprehensive about the heat from the freshly fired glasses against my skin so I was jerky when they stuck the glasses on me. After a few minutes into it, I started to feel relaxed while the glasses were being stuck and plucked out of my back without flinching. In the end, I started feeling light and my back pains reduced.


Holistic Wellness
Believing that physical, mental and emotional health are the cumulative result of our own action and lifestyle, The Farm philosophy is all about making use of Nature’s own remedies to guide its guests towards total health of body, mind, and soul. So how can we cure a sick spirit, which manifests in our being depressed or stressed out? Perhaps the solution is in yoga, meditation, or simply taking in visually the beauty of our natural environment. This is something that The Farm has a lot to offer.
In this Farm, even the few ducks that visit respect the peace and tranquility so you won’t hear a quack, there a quack, nor anywhere a quack quack. Eeya eeya Yo!

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