Friday, January 4, 2008

Secret Garden Near Lake Taal

My oboe teacher emailed and mentioned it's 10 degrees in Boston. Yikes! I had a wonderful opportunity to take a walk through a beautiful garden today, where it was sunny and breezy with temperatures in the 70's. Here's what my visit to this Eden reminded me:

1. Doing "nothing" but doing it mindfully can be far more productive than scurrying around doing a ton of stuff.

2. Earning a living? $____ (fill in your own blank). Making a life? Priceless. I actually stopped to smell flowers with my kids - it doesn't get more cliché than that - and it's the best thing I've done in months.

3. Creativity is for everyone.

4. The best things in life are still the simple, little things. The details. Attention to detail is a treasure and a must.

5. Choose the good fruits and avoid the serpents.

6. Breathe. Listen, and breathe.

We've found the most beautiful and most romantic bed & breakfast within a couple of hours of Manila: Sonya's Garden, in the province of Cavite.

No TV. No computers. No electronic anything. Just books, cool breezes, and lovely, comfortable cottages designed by Sonya herself, with native touches like capiz shell windows that serve as reminders of pleasant country life in the Philippines. No traffic sounds here; just the occasional rooster crowing...

We ambled down garden paths surrounded by exquisite tropical flowers. Some smelled sweet, like jasmine or honeysuckle. There were purple blossoms that smelled like vanilla, and trees whose clusters of pink flowers gave off a strong aroma of butter (pictured below). Splashes of color caught our attention everywhere we looked. And though the place was beautifully landscaped, it had enough wildness about it not to look too manicured.

There were unexpected little meditation nooks here and there, to surprise and delight those who might be strolling through the grounds in search of a little tranqulity.

And for those interested in a little TLC, there is a spa...

Sonya's home-cooked cuisine and home-baked breads have delighted visitors to her lush dining area for the last 10 years. Now she also offers a separate reception area for weddings.

There is also a place for guests to explore their own creativity, through small workshops on "the art of doing nothing," though of course what guests end up getting a done is usually something lovely and artistic.

Sonya's attention to detail and aesthetic eye can be discovered in almost every corner.

It was a privilege to meet this gifted, funny, gracious woman and visit her truly gorgeous gardens, cottages, and restaurant. And just a stone's throw from her place, we got to take our breath in looking at this view (of Lake Taal, from the town of Tagaytay, where the weather is cooler and the pace of life slower):


mjrh said...

Hey, I went to Sonya's garden the last time I was home and I loved it. Did you get to eat around in Tagaytay?

T. said...

Isn't it such a special place?

We also got to eat at "Breakfast at Antonio's" - typical native fare, longganisa with rice, Spanish hot chocolate, mango juice, etc.

My mom bought me a giant mocha roll from Red Ribbon, and tonight at a garden party at our house the caterer brought ginomis and yummy, sweet, sticky, bibingka. Gotta pack it all in before I leave.