This post first appeared on my column Down South on Interaksyon.com | November 1, 2014. Add some more photos here.
CEBU, PHILIPPINES—This morning, it bloomed. Nothing could be happier for a gardener than to see a mere cutting from somewhere else flourish in her own garden. This fuchsia single-layered 9 O’clock bud reminds me of Louise Gluck’s “I speak because I am shattered” a line from her “Red Poppy,” a flower I have never set an eye on yet.
This particular rose, just like the rest of the lives in my garden, brings me back to the place where I got it. This time, it is a place set in a mirage of hills and morning and evening fog: West 35 Eco Mountain Resort.
It was a midweek when I trailed the familiar Transcentral Highway—the very road I pass through every time I pay my monthly visit to my hometown, the highway where Cebu gets most of its flowers, the highway nearest to Mt. Babag—the roof of the city and the falls within the city: Budlaan.
Midweek is when you can expect the best time for solitude from a place cocooned by the passing mountain breeze and hushed ranges. Midweek is when you can reminisce on the earlier days of your week and look forward to planning the rest.
I went to West 35 for both.
Staying at Thyme (yes, the rooms are named after herbs that are organically grown by its kitchen and find their way in most of its sumptuous food) felt like an unexpected but most welcome luxury. It giddied one as though it were a romantic affair between a room and a woman.
There is something to be said about West 35’s bathroom. This lovely mountain paradise just materialized my bathroom fantasy: the walls are all glass panels overlooking the rolling hills. It even has a boxed flower garden tucked behind the glass walls.
To take a bath beside the blooming flowers with a book in hand while looking at the ocean of green outside. This could only possibly happen in magazines. But it did happen!
When the late afternoon sun rendezvoused with dusk, I stepped out in the balcony and consumed the scenery before me. I could make out Mt. Manunggal, the crash site of Pres. Magsaysay’s plane on my left. Somewhere among the ranges should be Mt. Mauyog, quite a short but knee-buckling climb. Fog skimmed through the thick foliage surrounding the villa. The distant lights in the highway connecting the city to midwest Cebu and the punctual fog created a mirage, like a hazy ambiance in one’s dream.
Aside from the highway lights, the only lit places I could see were those from the reception and the restaurant situated on top of the hills.
West 35’s design and layout are well thought out. On my way down to the villa, I noticed the steps are not really cemented into the land. Instead, they are laid out block by block and between them are flowering grasses. The rooms have no air conditioners. Who needs it anyway when this part of Cebu can sometimes feel like Baguio? You know the place has a cool temperature especially when you see cycads, fern-like trees, around.
Although it would be fun to have someone or a group of friends coming here with me, which I would certainly do next time, I did not regret coming alone to a place that makes Internet unnecessary.
Between a spoon of their Asian spicy seafood noodles I brought to my room, I wrote an entry on my diary, read a novel, watched Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, and yes, checked some papers from school.
In the middle of the night, the wind woke me up. It whistled through, knocked on the balcony’s patio doors. It momentarily startled me, but eventually it sank in that the murmuring of the wind is common in the mountains.
Perhaps because I’m a farmer and fisher’s daughter, I’m equally in love with the sea and the mountains. I came alone here at West 35, talked to the plants and flowers around. But I was never lonely, rather I was in love once again.
I fall in love way too easily. With places.
West 35 Eco Mountain Resort. KM 35 Transcentral Hiway, Gaas, 6041 Balamban, Cebu. For inquiries and reservations, call (+632) 520-2633 or mobile phone (+63) 933-9953245, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or check West 35′s Facebook page.
Group Accommodation – PHP 4,500.00 (6 PAX)
Deluxe – PHP 4,500.00 (2 PAX)
Suite – PHP 6,000.00 (2 PAX)
Extra Person – PHP 500.00
Entrance Fee – PHP 50.00
*Enjoy 10% to 15% on selected rooms on weekdays
*No bringing of outside food or beverages inside the resort premises
*Prices are subject to change without prior notice
Cebu Address: Salinas Drive, Lahug, Cebu City, Philippines
Contact Numbers: (032) 520-2633