Timing is everything! During our latest trip to beautiful Balesin Island, the timing was perfect as we ended our Yoga + Wellness weekend on the day the new version of the modified enhanced community quarantine was to be enforced.
It should be so clear by now that we are living in unprecedented times. When else did we need to do a risk assessment about getting home before traveling?
The wonderful thing about flying to Balesin Island is there is no quarantine time needed. Balesin Island Club requires all visitors to get a rapid diagnostic test or RDT before flying, and the short flight time enables all passengers to wear a mask throughout the flight. As a result, the island has remained new coronavirus disease (COVID-19)-free in this pandemic.
Although any RDT is acceptable, I prefer to get it at Aegle Wellness Center at Alphaland Makati Place, where I know med tech Topher Moreno will make the procedure totally painless.
Aegle also just launched its COVID-19 swab test, an antigen test that produces results in an hour. It is the fastest swab test for the virus available in the country today. Aegle has a range of products, many of which are targeted at boosting our immune system, rejuvenating our bodies and detoxing our mind and soul. (Email [email protected])
It is that focus on mind and body that attracted me to Aegle’s Serenity Series: Yoga + Wellness weekend in Balesin Island. The program combines a series of yoga sessions with Kundalini instructor Rosan Cruz, who also did Gong bath healing sessions for the group, with Aegle’s medical analyses and treatments, including one-on-one consultations with the medical director Dr. Ben Valdecañas. Based on all that, a month’s supply of immune-boosting pills is given, personalized for your body’s needs.
You know that safety protocols are on once you arrive at Alphaland’s Balesin Island Club hangar at Ninoy Aquino International Airport, where all the luggage is sprayed and temperature checks done, in addition to the usual security screening. All guests are given a QR code to ease contact tracing in the unlikely event of a positive COVID-19 guest.
After a 30-minute flight to the island, a huge sign welcomes you, noting that Balesin Island is COVID-19-free and requesting all to keep it that way. After another temp check, guests get their room keys and disappear into the depths of the island’s 500 hectares, perhaps not to be encountered again until their flight back to Manila.
The island is so big, with seven villages spaced widely. With over 7 kilometers of beaches, it is rare that you see others.
One new way to tour the island is via electric scooter. The e-scooter is so easy to use. Our youngest daughter, Athena Valdes, loved the new toy as she and her dad, hubby Dennis, toured the island.
The basic hygiene behavior that can reduce the spread of COVID-19 is the same worldwide. So you will notice that all common areas, entrances to all restaurants, toilets and villas have alcohol dispensers. Balesin also mandates the wearing of a mask or face covering in certain public places such as the clubhouse, restaurants, aviary and Aegle Wellness Center.
The souvenir shop sells masks and antibacterial hand gel. Next to the shop is the boutique selling all local products and clothes that Michelle Ongpin-Callaghan curates. I was especially happy to buy stylish earrings by young entrepreneur Celine Vicente (@theeshopmnl on Instagram).
Shopping opportunities continue at Balesin Bounty, which sells the island’s locally grown produce, including eggplant, string beans, watermelon, avocado, sea salt and honey. Shrimps grown on the island’s farms are also for sale, as well as other seafood items sold by the local fishermen.
During quarantine, Balesin Island’s big boss Roberto Ongpin instructed his island CEO Mike Asperin to plant everything, from trees to vegetables, to keep the island sustainable, as well. Balesin’s Ifugao Village continues to make wooden handicrafts for guests to bring home.
Rosan brought two of her gongs to conduct Gong bath sessions. Every morning, she shared her morning ritual and intention-setting meditation for prosperity and good health.
Somehow, the weekend was a great balance of spiritual yoga, medical wellness and a joint birthday celebration for good friend Javi Martinez and Ruffa Gutierrez’s daughter Lorin Gabriella Gutierrez. For their actual birthday on Aug. 3, Javi’s partner Tim Yap and I hosted a Greek feast in Mykonos Village. Balesin’s Luisa Banta arranged all the festive birthday décor and prizes.
Lady boss chemist Pinky Tobiano hosted the first dinner party at Alhambra in Costa del Sol that was so lively with karaoke entertainment by the singers in the group. Generous Pinky was unable to join us at the yummy Spanish dinner, but she made sure the room was thoroughly disinfected with her newest product, Sanivir Smoke.
Sanivir Smoke (@sanivirsmoke on Instagram) is a quick- acting, wide-range disinfectant in fumigant smoke format. The fumigant containers make application and handling easy, meaning special machinery or equipment is not necessary.
It is a powerful air disinfectant from Spain that effectively kills all types of viruses, bacteria, spores and fungi, including coronavirus, using a broad-spectrum dry smoke. Air disinfection is more effective and longer lasting than simply misting the space. It keeps your area and all surfaces protected for as long as two weeks.
Let me end with a special note of support to Ernest Cu, Globe Telecom president and CEO, who was in Balesin just the week before he bravely spoke to President Duterte and called out the real, on-the-ground situation in getting telecoms towers built.
It was nice to chat briefly with Ernest and his wife Arlene, and meet Parker William, their first grandson! They showed me that I have to convince my son Bryan Prieto and wife Tinkay to bring their baby Louie to Balesin, too!