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Roots and Wings

A wellness holiday is an investment in the self

By: - Columnist
/ 10:15 AM August 31, 2014

My treatment on the last night was the finale, an hour and a half of traditional ‘hilot’ by one of The Farm’s best therapists

They were the best three days of my life over the last five years.

They say that the warranty (on the human body) runs out after the age of 40. How much more when one is pushing 50, like myself?


August had been a particularly stressful month for me, and I could feel that my body was searching for a serious reboot. And so, one rainy afternoon last week, I checked myself into The Farm at San Benito for some serious quiet time and rewiring of the mind, body and spirit.

I entered with no expectations, save for the knowledge that I was going to eat nothing but vegetarian meals for the next three days. I indulged in what was called a “Wellness Holiday,” and that is exactly what I got, and so much more.

When you step into The Farm, your spirits lift immediately, as you are enveloped by hectares and hectares of lush greenery and cared for by a staff led by front office manager Romi, who radiates happiness from his every pore, and an amiable staff that makes you feel right at home.

The first order of the day for me was a trip to the clinic, where a doctor did some nutritional counseling and live blood analysis. After my finger was pricked and I peered through a microscope, my cells were flashed on a huge plasma screen, and it was interesting to watch them wiggle right before my very eyes.

The cells were in a formation that could be attributed to a strained state (they were stacked one on top the other), and considering the events in my life the last few months, I was not surprised to see them practically spell out the word “stress.”


The doctor then drew up a program for me that was comprised of treatments tailored to address my concerns—in this case, I told him, I just wanted to de-stress, swim and sleep as much as I could. Thus, on my first night, I underwent Yin Yang Dry Brushing, apparently an ancient practice in the Philippines.

Skin brushing, according to my therapist, helps facilitate the process of shedding, thereby taking toxins, such as uric acid, with it. Lymph nodes, which are part of the immune system, are stimulated, and aid in blood circulation and function. This treatment lasted for an hour and was conducted in the healing sanctuary,  one of the best spas I have been to, not just in the Philippines, but in Southeast Asia as well. I closed the day with a healthy vegetarian dinner, and off to my little villa I went.


I slept like a baby that first evening.

In the morning, the songs of birds perched outside my veranda greeted me, and gentle sunlight roused me from a deep sleep. Before breakfast, I took a dip and swam to my heart’s content in the villa’s plunge pool.

In such quiet surroundings and very close to nature (my pool looked out into a little stream, whose ripples I could hear throughout the day), it was easy to meditate, pray and truly listen to oneself. God is always closer when all the distractions and noise are taken away. And at The Farm, He seemed to be everywhere.

The rest of the day was spent in long walks up and down the gentle hills leading to the restaurant and the manmade lake; reading on the daybed or the veranda; and indulging in delicious vegetarian fare.

The second night ended with the best ventosa treatment I’ve ever had in my whole life. Ventosa is the ancient cupping therapy, taken from the word “vent,” which means to drain out anything in excess in our body, be it gas, liquid or fluid. Ventosa is designed to remove toxins and rebalance the body’s life force flow.

A heated glass is left at a specific point in the back meridians, and after a few moments forms a partial vacuum (via heat or suction) inside, thereby drawing up the underlying tissues. I would describe it as literally sucking the bad wind out of you. After a few minutes, blood stasis is formed where the heated glass was placed, toxins are released, and healing takes place.

Aches and pains

When I came to The Farm, I had been grappling with a nasty right shoulder and upper back aches and pains which I attributed to a lot of stress, literally and figuratively. I left The Farm three days later, feeling like a brand-new person, inside and out.

My treatment on the last night was the finale, an hour and a half of traditional hilot by one of The Farm’s best therapists, Mat (the other legendary one is Lemuel) who really unknotted me and made me feel like butter all over after my treatment.

I’ve always been a believer in traditional hilot over the more relaxing Swedish or Thai massage. Hilot, for me, releases all my tension and stress, and gives me an overall feeling of serenity after every treatment. One of the best ones I have had was this particular one at The Farm.

The Farm at San Benito positions itself as a destination for total wellness, rejuvenation and detoxification. They say that the proof, though, is always in the pudding, and though I truly felt like I was in the best shape ever—mind, body and spirit—I wanted to gauge if it was evident.

At the end of my stay, I posted a photo of myself taken on my last afternoon at The Farm, sated and sleepy after a late lunch, totally unmade up except for a smile. It ended up being one of the most “liked” photos of mine ever, and the comments were unanimous—relaxed and glowing. If only for that, then The Farm had certainly lived up to its promise.

One week later, I have not touched pork, beef or sugar, for that matter (except for honey or stevia), and I have tried to stick to vegetarian meals and eat food as close  to the source as possible.

I continue to walk as much as I can, and am working toward gaining more flexibility through yoga. I have never felt lighter or better. So, 50, bring it on. Thanks to an investment in the self through a stay at The Farm, I’m so ready for you.

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TAGS: hilot, San Benito, The Farm, Therapy, wellness, Wellness Holiday
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