Vacations and staycations
CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - July 23, 2015 - 10:00am

By lunchtime today, I hope to be checking-in at the Diamond Hotel for a “Staycation” and birthday celebration of my wife Karen. For a couple of years now, my wife has elected to celebrate her birthday with breakfast and shopping in Divisoria and after that we hop over to the Mall of Asia for lunch or merienda. This year however we’ve been blessed to add the Staycation courtesy of Mr. Ramon Ang so we don’t have to rush back home after the day and I can meander around Cartimar to look at fish and bicycles. The special attraction of course is the dessert bar and Japanese restaurants of the Diamond hotel that are simply superb. 

Most people think of Staycation as a mere alternative for people who can’t afford to go on a real trip, while others consider it as frivolity or unnecessary spending. That is until you ask the opinion of children and young adults who see trips for what they are and don’t burden themselves with philosophical or economic dilemmas. As far as my daughter Hannah and her cousin Abby are concerned, going on a Staycation is special and they quickly recall the memories they’ve piled up through the years. This time they will be adding time with “Lala” as well as a run at the Ice Skating facility of MOA. So for all intents and purposes we may not have left Metro Manila but we will be seeing the sights, eating “what the locals eat,” and shopping. We might even be able to throw in a dinner at the Faux “Hard Rock Café” on Adriatico Street where I met Karen back in 1987.

After 10 months of excruciating pain and being unable to walk around like I used to (due to a back injury), I’ve managed to painfully force myself to move around, travel and do things and simply take advantage of every opportunity to go and see places with my family. Once you experience mornings when you literally have to crawl or roll out of bed, when you are confronted with the fact that you are now a “part-time” PWD or Person with Disability, it all falls into place and for me the decision is to LIVE LIFE! Don’t wait for “Summer” or Christmas or long weekends to have an excuse.

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Long weekends are a luxury for most people, but in our case it was the “Luxurious Life” to have spent it at the Bluewater Maribago Resort on Mactan Island. Every destination has a trademark but Bluewater resorts consistently represent luxury in terms of really beautiful cottages where even the bathrooms are designed and furnished to be at par with exclusive homes in the Philippines. The truth of the matter is I never made it to the beach, I never went for a swim in any of the three swimming pools, I practically locked myself inside cottage 113 except to stuff myself with the great fresh caught seafood at “The Cove” restaurant by the beach or for western and Asian delights at the air-conditioned “Allegro Restaurant.”

Meanwhile my wife and daughter beat the crowd by booking early appointments at “The Amuma Spa” that has built up a great reputation as well as a regular clientele. What makes Amuma popular is the fact that it “embraces Philippine ethnic influences where they incorporate the concept of hilot or the Philippine ethnic version of chiropractic treatments and massage in one. 

Under the general heading of “hilot,” Amuma Spa offers Pikpik kawayan sa sik (using bamboo poles to apply rhythmic pressure on the foot area), Hilot sa Batong Mainit (a massage therapy where heated black granite stones provide heat and warmth to ease muscle tension), Hilot Kawayan (bamboo massage), Hilot Ugnat which is an adaptation of stretching therapy and traditional Thai massage. They even have what they call Hilot Ading, a massage developed for junior guests or kids.

For pregnant guests in their second or third semester, Amuma Spa offers Hilot Amu-in developed to minimize water retention, relaxes tired back muscles and tension and if “taken on a therapeutic and regular basis claims to help reduce labor pains. Just the pampering would certainly be a treat for any pregnant mom out there! As far as I was concerned, the best treatment would have been the “Duot,” a therapy recommended for people like me with chronic pain or limited range of motion. The treatment would be the local version of deep tissue massage where they target the tension, increase blood circulation and “unknot” tense muscles. The only reason I failed to go was my bed in cottage 113 would not release me from its clutches. Luxury is such a cruel master!

After building up the resort and spa facilities, it seems that the owners and management of Bluewater resorts have not only expanded their outlets but have been busy investing and developing their own farms in order to have a safe and secure supply chain for their food and ingredients needed in every resort and Spa.

Last Saturday, Amuma Spa formally introduced their Farm to Spa program where many of their ingredients and spa products actually contain ingredients directly from Bluewater farms. My favorite has to be their Lemongrass line in the form of hand soaps, shampoo and oils as well as insect repellents. There is just something about how invigorating and refreshing the scent of lemon grass can be and the fact that it also keeps the bugs away. Guests who were out in the sun too long apparently went for the “Pampalamig Wrap,” a cooling potion of cucumber, mint, and banana, products similarly produced and sourced for the “Farm to Spa” program.  Such a program totally makes sense to me because it creates jobs, utilizes land that would otherwise be idle, insures the safety of ingredients that ultimately rejuvenates people.

As we flew back to Manila, I met up with two popular sons of Cebu and when I shared our wonderful stay at Bluewater Maribago, I discovered that my friends had never been there because they thought it was way up north. Sorry Bro! it’s 15 minutes away from Mactan Airport!

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