MOALBOAL, CEBU, PHILIPPINES—These past days, work—both self- and client-assigned—became overwhelming that I already entertained magic spells on how to grow another head, feet, and hands to finish everything on schedule. Books to read, MA classes to attend, a wedding to shoot, places to visit, plants to water, writing deadlines to meet. Writing and photography assignments consumed the time intended for reading and diary writing. Guilt gnawed my gut.
But such self-imposed busyness is treatable. Its perfect antidote is a place of good energy: hale manna. A sanctuary perched on a cliff, this place—detached from Moalboal’s tourist belt, the central Bas Daku and Panagsama Beach—offers solitude to its guests.
The chirping of various birds served as my alarm clock. Probinsyana at heart, I could name the birds through their melodies. At half past six in the morning, the siloys (black shama) roosting by my private balcony peeped endlessly, waving complicated notes into one single melody. A chirpy cacophony of tamsi (sunbird), bangkiyog (pied fantail), and kurokutok (zebra dove)—such sweet reminders of my childhood centered on hills, mountains, and trees.
Hale Manna, however, is a coastal garden graced with trees not normally grown on the coast: kulo(breadfruit), neem trees and some other familiar trees with unfamiliar names: alangasil, noni, carot.
I did not know they could grow in salty earth. If there are trees flexible to any kind of soil condition, it is the talisay and coconut trees. But here, aside from the varied trees, there are also the malabato trees that run abundant by the cliff. They are similar to pomelo trees sans the thorns and nodal trunk and with branches all pointing heavenward. A male staff fixing the cottage shared that these trees despite being hardwood become hollowed inside when they reach a certain age. It sounds like a poem to me.
The resort and garden staff know their land, their coast very well. The same member of the staff said the yuka tree by Inspiration Point is centuries-old. It must be because I never thought such could grow so massive.
Cottages with drapes and mattresses are scattered all over the property. Hammocks are tied on trees by the cliff. Here at Hale Manna, it is not hard to find a corner you can call your own. True to its name, beautiful energy flows in the property that affects the mood of its visitors.
Benches with their uniform redness are strategically situated on the cliffs, overlooking Tañon Strait and the ranges of Tayasan and Jimalalud, Negros Oriental. Tañon Strait has a drop considered a paradise by snorkelers, free divers, and scuba divers.
Kuya Nic, the lifeguard on duty, accompanied me towards the floating cottage by the drop. He guided me to the area with the thickest corals. Beautiful and varied soft and hard corals adorned Hale Manna’s seabed.
Kuya Nic thought I would make a good scuba diver with my swimming skills. Well, he had not met my free diver friends. I would simply pale in comparison to them. We kayaked to the outcrops where this part of Moalboal got its name: Magpayong. A certain outcrop is shaped like an umbrella.
After marveling at the abundance of nature, I relaxed at the red bench by the yuka tree. This part of the cliff is aptly named as Inspiration Point; it’s a corner for artists, for people like me, who are being momentarily consumed by schedules and deadlines.
With a relaxed state of being, writing became easier. Personal thoughts finally found their way in a diary page. The sound of the water lapping the rough rocks, the chirping of the birds, and my right hand turning the pages of the diary were delightful parts of a romantic date with oneself. These were moments of coming to terms with oneself, with one’s demons, with one’s shortcomings.
A place like Hale Manna is built to appreciate nature and one’s self. Visit. Love. Be healed.
• Hale Manna Resort and Coastal Garden, Barangay Saavedra, Bas Daku, Moalboal, Cebu. For details, check their website http://www.halemanna.com or call (+63 32) 316-2603 or (+63) 922-8424939 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org