JOAN C. BULAUITAN leaves the city to recharge at one of the world’s best wellness sanctuaries—The Farm.
|I find myself sitting in one of the benches under a glorious mango tree with outstretched branches coiled with cascading tendrils of vine. I relish the cool breeze and the holy hush of verdant scenery and catch myself wondering why it took me this long to return. I look forward to giving my system a reboot, here at what is considered to be one of the top wellness sanctuaries in Asia—The Farm at San Benito.|
Appropriately, my schedule begins with colema. I expect it to be a breeze. Alas, my heavy meal the previous night takes its toll. I have gas pains all over. When the procedure is over, my knees feel like jelly. The therapist gives me four tablets of bioplasma to replenish the nutrients that were flushed out during the procedure. I take the warm ginger lemon tea given me and settle on a sofa with a hot compress on my belly.
I want to allow my digestive tract to rest some more, so instead of having my lunch at the usual hour, I participate in a tai chi class. After 45 minutes, I am sweating, not out of breath, but definitely feeling my quads and hamstrings.
In the Raw
I didn’t know exactly what to expect from food labeled as raw, except perhaps for the usual salads and fresh fruits.
The corn, ginger, and lemongrass soup is richly flavored, not too thick but smooth and impeccably spiced. The jicama slaw is garden fresh, punctured by the lovely texture and subtle sweetness and heat of the spicy macadamia.
Upon the suggestion of Jennifer Hazen, The Farm’s resident manager, I order the entrée sampler—fresh coconut meat instead of the usual heart of palm put the spring back in spring rolls. Drizzled with sweet chili sauce, it was a perky bundle.
I unwrap the tamales to find the staple of almost every Filipino meal—rice. It is the glutinous variety, steam-softened, and subtly seasoned, hitting all the right buttons and embodying all that the phrase “comfort food” represents.
Finally, dessert is served. I take one spoonful after another of the chocolate (sundae) on chocolate (chip ice cream) combination lavishly strewn with candied nuts and mango bits, until I realize I have nothing left to take a photo of but a chocolate-streaked dessert glass.
After an hour-long siesta, I head to The Farm’s Salus Per Aqua spa. My skin kayud treatment begins with two therapists massaging oil on my back and gently scraping my skin with what looks like capiz shells. This procedure stimulates the lymph canals to draw toxins out of the body.
Following the kayud is the body detox using a curcumin scrub. Curcumin has been used for thousands of years in Negros Island. It has the active healing power to detoxify the liver, skin, kidneys, and heart. With both sides of my body slathered with curcumin, the therapists wrap me, burrito-like, in a blanket and lay a warm compress on my abdomen. I lie like a mummy for 15 minutes, then I take a shower to wash off all the gunk. I get into an outdoor bathtub with warm water and freshly pressed coconut milk, and for the next 30 minutes, wallow in the warmth and comfort of this glorious bath.
It’s in the Blood
From the spa, I proceed to the clinic for my capillary scan and live blood analysis. The doctors remark that my blood is one of the palest they’ve seen, indicating iron deficiency and lack of sleep. The cells are clumpy, most likely due to dehydration. I am horrified and vow to drink eight glasses of water as soon as I step out of the clinic.
Dinnertime arrives soon enough. The meal starts with a very light (read: guiltless) avocado tomato tartar, followed by a Provençal vegetable soup. The “interactive” salad consists of romaine lettuce leaves tied into bundles with nori wrapper, with a creamy and mildly piquant shallot dressing.
I take a few bites of the mains sampler: the zucchini package filled with carrot pâté and grilled vegetable napoleon on millet and sweet potato polenta.
Desert was a velvety mocha chocolate layer cake, with a chocolate taste that lingered on in my tongue.
After a good night’s sleep, I head to the outdoor rainshower to enjoy the lemongrass scented body scrub, a mixture of bath salt and coconut oil that does wonders to my dry skin.
For breakfast, I start off with mixed fruit salad with coconut and fruit yogurt. I decide against coffee and opt for the organic hot chocolate.
I love the pop and crunch I get from the granola with mixed cereals, which I douse with a good serving of nut milk.
The Japanese scrambled tofu had me at hello. It is creamy and egg-y, each luscious mouthful blending so well with the sweet coconut bacon.
Fresh, delicious, and healthy—this is the true breakfast of champions. It is a meal that represents all that is great about new beginnings.