Sunday Lifestyle

Back to my Paradise

RENDEZVOUs - Christine S. Dayrit - The Philippine Star
Back to my Paradise
The Lavender Cottage is our favorite home-away-from-home in Sonya’s Garden.
Bum Tenorio Jr.

The morning sun sets the fire trees ablaze. The Mussaendas in peach and white are celebratory, welcoming. The dama de noches can’t wait for night to perfume the surroundings with a delicate, dainty fragrance. The jacaranda flowers are proudly ensconced on the branches, swaying to the breeze. The violets are robust, blooming in glorious thickets. The Angel’s Trumpets herald our presence. Everywhere dragonflies, butterflies and bees chase each other. At night, the fireflies flutter here and there, atop the trees, savoring the freshness of the environment. The crickets sing in harmony; their melody is joyous.

Our hearts leap in happiness. We are home away from home; in our paradise. We are at Sonya’s Garden — again.

We have missed this paradise because of the lockdown. When Sonya’s Garden in Alfonso, Cavite, announced that it would open on June 16, we booked right away our stay at the Lavender cottage of the bed and breakfast.

Wondrous and tasty treats are served to satisfy your palate and quench your thirst.

Our favorite cottage featured the comforts of home. Diaphanous was the bed canopy that lulled us to slumber. There was the usual peace and serenity all over Sonya’s Bed and Breakfast. We ran up and down the stairs of Lavender cottage like little children seeing again their favorite vacation spot on earth. We jumped onto the four-poster opium bed. And when we had gathered our senses, we sipped our tarragon tea served in the most exquisite bone china cups. Heaven.

We pinched our cheeks, in disbelief that we were back again at Sonya’s Garden. The world might be in chaos because of the pandemic caused by the coronavirus, but in this haven — even if we observed all the protocols needed to be safe — we were free; we were home.

Prior to the lockdown, Sonya’s operated for only two weeks when businesses in the entire province of Cavite were forced to stop operations because of the Taal Volcano eruption in January. Ash fall spread across the skies of Batangas, Laguna and Cavite. Those greatly affected by the eruption were brought to evacuation centers,  away from the danger zone. But, upon visiting Sonya’s then, in contrast to the sorrowful scenery was a seeming miracle because only freshness and nature’s best welcomed us at Sonya’s Garden.

Sonya’s is truly magical and even mystical everywhere you look. It’s an English garden of different flowers and plants that spells charm and loveliness. Oh, how I’ve missed frolicking in these gardens.

The royal innkeeper: Sonya Garcia plays with Pooh Pie on a rainy day in paradise.

In all the places all over the world, Sonya is tops among the healing sanctuaries that I have visited. Who would think that right here in our land is a place so sacred and serene that you instantly feel so blessed the minute you step inside this paradise? This garden is the way God wanted it to be from the beginning. No wonder it is a favorite place for very special occasions that will certainly last a lifetime.

It’s an undeniable fact that Sonya Garcia is the “mother” of the classy and comfy concept of B&Bs in the Philippines. I consider it a blessing to be one of the first to write about Sonya’s Garden when all it had was one cozy restaurant with two or three tables, a staff that I could count on my fingers, and a “dumbwaiter” amid a serene garden planted with a flurry of bougainvillea and other blooms.

Sonya’s beautiful heart and unparalleled vision are the elements that have made Sonya’s Garden grow into such a successful endeavor. These are the same elements of generosity that Sonya wants to share with the Filipino people.

For those who still can’t come to this paradise for one reason or the other, Sonya’s Garden promises to deliver its delicacies and goodies. The objective is to bring the health and wellness of Sonya’s to those who desire it. You can even start your own herb garden or simply have the convenience of staying home and indulging in the flavors that bring happy memories with every bite. Freshly harvested and organically grown herbs, nuts, arugula, edible flowers and seasonal fruits can be delivered right to your door.

We sampled again the salad with edible flowers drizzled with Sonya’s Secret salad dressing, or balsamic vinegar with extra-virgin olive oil and parmesan cheese.  We savored, too, the freshly baked bread, like whole-wheat sesame from the Panaderia with an array of freshly made dips and toppings: basil pesto, white cheese, anchovies, bruschetta tomato, mushroom paté, black olive tapenade and fresh green olive oil with peppercorns.

Dine on fine bone china as you savor sumptuous delights and sip zesty brews.

We decided to try the pasta with two kinds of sauces and toppings: organic tomatoes, garlic and onion simmered in olive oil and bits of chicken with cream and mango; and ratatouille with salmon belly, shiitake mushrooms, black olives, capers and grated parmesan cheese.

For a sweet ending, try the caramelized kamote to enjoy the mint leaves, banana rolls with sesame and jackfruit and smashingly sinful homemade chocolate cake.

The bed and breakfast exudes not just the joys of country living, but also a way of life with natural social distancing intrinsic to its design. Tucked in the lush corners of the gardens are more than 20 cottages with screened windows that allow the passing of the fresh breeze. There are no noisy air-conditioners recycling contaminated air.

“Knowing that our guests often come here for the solitude, we provide room service only upon request to respect their personal space as much as we can,” says Sonya, beautiful even if part of her face was covered with a mask. “The wide expanse of our garden and its winding flower pathways are theirs to enjoy, where they can privately and freely meander without worrying about bumping into others.”

The B&B restaurant complies with the government’s safety regulations on social distancing. Our table was over three meters away from the next. The Proposal Garden is the best place for lovers to dine — there’s only one table for two that resides within its flurry of blooms.

No matter how many times you have visited Sonya’s Garden, it’s always like the first time. And, like true love’s kiss, it will always be sweet. After all, in this paradise, the ordinariness of living is imbued with romance and abundance.

Even before the pandemic, Sonya’s Bed and Breakfast was a sanctuary for those yearning for true peace and quiet away from the toxicity of the city, away from the crowds, away from it all.

*  *  *

For more information about Sonya’s Garden, call Christy at 0917-533-5140.

E-mail me at [email protected]


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