My favorite place
Promenading at Sonya’s Garden are innkeeper Sonya Garcia and her golden retriever Ooggoo.

My favorite place

NEW BEGINNINGS - Büm D. Tenorio Jr. (The Philippine Star) - August 28, 2020 - 12:00am

Life is a burst of humongous sunflowers at Sonya’s Garden. On other occasions, life is a whirlwind of palo santo blooms pirouetting down the ground like little red-coral pinwheels. On days when I want to get lost from myself, I find my spirit in the lush gardens of this 2.5-hectare paradise.

The paradise still cannot accommodate overnight guests at its bed and breakfast, given that Alfonso, Cavite, where it is located, is still under general community quarantine (GCQ). However, its bakery and Morning Glory restaurant are open for those who crave its sumptuous offerings. Tables at the restaurant are meters apart from each other. A brass pitcher filled with flamboyant and vibrant flowers on top of the table makes you forget about the health pandemic for a while. Or even for a long, long while.

I must have visited Sonya’s Garden a hundred times in its 22 years of existence. Each visit is unique, a commune with nature, a communion with the deepest side of myself. The art of doing nothing is explored here by the soul.

Staying at its bed and breakfast is an experience of rebirth. I wake up from my opium bed to the chirping of birds, different sounds from kilyawan, batu-bato, uwak, San Vicente, maya and kurak. The silky comforter gives me warmth to thaw the morning chill. Yawning and stretching become an art.

Licorice and Dandelion cottages at Sonya’s Bed & Breakfast.
Photos by Büm Tenorio Jr.

The sun peeps from my capiz window, slathering me with Vitamin D. The sun follows me to the shower room with its glorious rays. I take a bath with pebbles under my feet, the gardens outside the Lavender cottage bring color to my day. My eyes make love to the flowers clinging to my shower window — magenta flowers of bougainvillea, chartreuse blooms of santisima, red-orange caballero. From the garden way below my cottage, the scent of parijata, a flower native to India, perfumes all the more my hair even if I rinse off the gugo shampoo bar.

Before I find my way to the breakfast table, I promenade in the gardens, ogle the other blooms, get courted by bees, butterflies and dragonflies. The minute I smell the buttercup blooms is the moment I get hungry. The crisp table linen bears flower patterns, too. There, the piping hot tsokolate-eh, kesong puti fried in olive oil and drenched with honey, and garlic bread are waiting for me.

I have the honor of breaking bread with the innkeeper of this paradise, Sonya Garcia, and in between bites and laughter, as the cool breeze coming from the forest blows, we celebrate life, living, friendship.

A romantic nook amidst the gardens.

“Our life is not our own. It’s a wondrous gift, freely given by the Ultimate Giver. Life should be lived with joyfulness, mirth and laughter,” Sonya says.

On days when I feel I‘ve been hard on myself, a weekend stay at her bed and breakfast is like a peace offering to the self. Staying at the B&B is an experience of rebirth. Sonya’s gardens are like friends I can visit anytime. And like real friends, I can be open to them.

Like, for example, at sundown, I softly read in the presence of Angel’s trumpets and creeping violets an entry in my journal that I wrote inside Sonya’s Proposal Garden.

Oct. 23, 2019 (Wednesday)

Peace offering — to myself

No one else will give me the love and peace I want but myself. Lately, however, perhaps for two weeks already, I have subjected my heart to hurts and pains caused by me, my expectations. I have stolen my own happiness.

I have also allowed some to abuse my kindness. But I have forgiven them — the promises they did not keep, the lies they masked as gospel truths. The toll: I allowed them to steal my joy.

Not anymore. I have tightened the cap. Not anymore.

Today, I made a peace offering to me. I will remain kind to myself, to others, deserving or not. Those who gave me challenging moments will be disenfranchised from doing their acts. I forgive them long before they ask for it.

I forgive myself, keeping in mind that no one can steal my joy — not others, not myself.

Freedom from hurts and pains is gleaned now from my brand-new smile. The peace I give myself is the light that will make me shine.

Peace be with you, self.

The famous garden salad of Sonya’s Garden.

Sonya’s Garden has that peaceful and joyful effect on me. (“That’s what you pay for in this paradise — joy and peace, plus the free, unadulterated oxygen,” says my best friend Christine Dayrit, my monthly companion at Sonya’s Garden.)  Here, I find bliss, as my life is blessed with peace and quiet. Not to mention that I get to eat to my heart’s content the freshly harvested greens that are free from pesticides. Or the freshly baked cheese hopia, Spanish bread among other delicacies from the bakery. Or the smooth as silk seabass, the gelatinous callos and fork-tender Angus steak.

If the GCQ will soften to modified general community quarantine by the end of the month, says Christie Caimoy, general manager of Sonya’s Garden, a master class on integrated organic farming by Sonya Garcia herself will push through on Sept. 4 to 6. It’s only for 10 people. If ever, Sonya will teach the small group of participants about natural farming technique, land and seeds propagation, nursery and plant transplanting, composting methods, organic fertilizer making, among others.

Sonya’s Garden fascinates the senses, impacts the soul. It is a haven where even the cacophony of cicadas is music to the ears; even the falling of the leaves and flowers is an artform that liberates the spirit. Celebrating the self is encouraged here at every turn.

(E-mail me at bumbaki@yahoo.com. I’m also on Twitter @bum_tenorio and Instagram @bumtenorio. Have a blessed weekend!)

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