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The Farm at San Benito: Wellness for the Weary

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For 365 days a year (make that 366 during a leap year), we exhaust our bodies physically, emotionally and mentally.  We test our minds’ limits to pass that final exam, entertain clients all night long to bag that all-important project, or sweat ourselves out to prep for various kinds of extreme sports. Obviously, our bodies are our most important tool to succeed in these endeavors. It takes most of the toll. If the cars we love are brought in for annual preventive maintenance to stay in peak condition for the year, do we not owe our bodies as much?    

This is where The Farm at San Benito comes in. Our bodies do need a retreat regularly (at the very least, once a year) to continue to be at peak function.  More than an escape, more than a getaway, The Farm is an idyllic place that can transform you to a fresher, renewed you.  You leave feeling cleansed, rejuvenated, healthier and lighter, getting the clean slate you need to overcome the daily rigors of life.

I normally travel for two main reasons: rest or adventure.  I also love going to beautiful, picture-perfect places so I can satisfy the shutterbug in me.  Hence, a place like The Farm’s a perfect fit for me. It’s a place to relax and get lucid; at the same time, with its impressive vistas, it’s ideal for the camera trigger-happy traveler like me. What I realized about The Farm though is while it’s all of those things, a stay here actually can be more purposeful – it offers healing and treatments for the weary mind, body and soul.

Calling on the doctor

As a sanctuary, The Farm at San Benito, cuddled up in idyllic Batangas, lives up to its name of being a haven for overall health. I looked forward to my appointment with their in-house doctor at the recently-opened Holistic Sanctuary.  The facility has centralized all of their medical treatments in one structure and is also where their in-house doctors hold clinic.

Chatting with the very amiable Dr. Radi Veruasa-Apostol, a plastic cosmetic surgeon, was both fun and educational.  Aside from discussing my lifestyle practices, she briefly expounded on how I could generally live a healthier lifestyle. She shared a most basic thing that all of us can easily practice yet take for granted in our daily lives: controlling our oxygen, acid and sugar levels.  When any of these three are not ideal, the functions of the entire body are hampered.

Thankfully, she taught me valuable, easy fixes which I’m delighted to share with you.  If our oxygen levels are low, she recommends drinking more water, exercising more and breathing deeply (using the 4-7-8 method where you inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds and exhale for 8 seconds).  If our acid levels are high, she said that based on clinical studies, we should take in more acid such as apple cider, vinegar or lemon.  Finally, to control high sugar levels, she suggests minimizing or eliminating sugar altogether and using substitutes such as coconut sugar.

Clearly, we all have a need for a healthier lifestyle.   Meeting Dr. Radi, made it seem attainable.  For these basic yet essential learnings alone, I found this trip already more than worth it.

Organic and luxurious

Verdant landscapes surround each villa in The Farm, so you get the seclusion and privacy you’ll need for introspection.  Some villas have their own infinity pools you can float on while you gaze under coconut trees or the stars. The exteriors may have an organic, simplistic feel but you’ll be assured of modern comforts inside. It’s so superb that it’s easy to be inclined to stay indoors all day, except that you know what awaits outdoors are just as impeccable.

The treatments

Aside from being an ideal place of retreat, the treatment experiences in the Healing Sanctuary Spa and the Integrated Medical Clinics in the hands of their experts are just as vital in your wellness journey at The Farm. Their treatments are a combination of proven traditional and modern medical methods, with custom-made solutions for each guest. Programs are usually designed for three days to a week.  A three-day program is sufficient, but for maximum results, seven days is most ideal.

I tried the Tres Banyos Lunas, an authentic age-old ceremony still practiced by local Filipino herbalists (albularyos).  It combines the five healing elements of earth, wind, fire, water and wood.   I must say it’s possibly the best spa treatment I have ever had in my life.  Its objective was to help me reconnect with nature in order to restore my body’s innate ability to heal. After three hours on the treatment, I already felt healing from stress and a lightness of being.  With such amazing results, I was intrigued on what wonders the other treatments could do.

Whenever you have free time from your treatments, there are lots of other things to do in The Farm. There’s an infinity pool you can swim in while imbibing the energy of the surrounding forest. There are lots of scheduled exercise and yoga sessions such as vinyasa yoga, plyometrics, fitness walks, and more, designed for all energy levels you can just join in anytime of the day. If you want a less strenuous activity, they also have creative classes such as the mandala flower arrangement class or the vegan cuisine prep class.

I tried the Gentle Flow Yoga with yogi Earl who patiently explained to me the purpose of each movement and emphasized the need for proper deep breathing. Though I struggled to find form, I felt my spirit slowly embrace my environment, along with a kind of peace I have never felt before. I was proud that considering it was my first time to do yoga, I was able to complete the class, which gave me a huge sense of accomplishment.

Feeding the body and soul

Considering you are here to detox, cleanse, heal or rejuvenate, you’ll need nourishment that supports those objectives. The Farm has a wide menu of vegan dishes that provide tasty organic cuisine. The ingredients are farm-to-table, so here, you can say you’re actually consuming the freshness of your environment.

For my first dinner, they recommended a four-course meal. Naturally, being a carnivorous eater, I was expecting the food to be bland. To my surprise, each dish was savory. The Roasted Beetroot Soup was light yet tasty. The Interactive Salad with Creamy Shallots Dressing was just divine and I recommend it as a must-try. The Courgette Fettucini with Creamy Dill Sauce was sweet and smooth to the palate while the Grilled Vegetable Napoleon on Millet and Sweet Potatoes Potenta made me forget about meat. I thought if vegan food can be this good, maybe we would have more vegans in our midst.

Lightness of being

By the end of my stay, the lightness that I felt was undeniable.  The environment, the treatments, the classes and the food were an unbeatable combination in cleansing my tired weary self.  My mind, body and soul felt renewed and clear; it felt like a huge vacuum cleaner sucked out all forms of impurities and negativities out of me.  And now, I feel better equipped and ready to tackle future obstacles life will throw at me. I must have had remarkable results, judging from the comments I got from friends and family, with them saying I seem to be glowing.

Now, I can’t wait to return after a year or six months. After all, my body deserves more than a holiday.  Like my car, it deserves preventive maintenance, the kind that I know only The Farm can give.

HOW TO BOOK: You can book through their website, thefarmatsanbenito.com or call +632 884 8074 or + 63918 884 8078.  You can also find out more about the retreat program and type of accommodation that best suits you by checking out their website.

GETTING THERE:  The Farm at San Benito is located in Batangas and is less than a couple of hours drive from Manila. There are several routes that take you there but it’s best to take the resort’s recommended route.  Contact them for a copy of their map. Even better, they can arrange transportation for you from any point in Metro Manila or directly from the airport.

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