The recently-concluded electoral exercise is undoubtedly the most hotly-contested one, as we have seen in the mammoth rallies and bitter social media exchanges. Match it with the scorching heat, and you have the ingredients for an explosive situation which has caused stress and depression to people who have invested heavily on their chosen bet.
As the smoke of the battlefield settles down, it’s time to relax and perhaps take a detox drive to a relaxing retreat relieve us of the negative vibes. Below are some quiet spaces which also offer a therapeutic road journey.
Pit Stop 1: Cordillera Region
Since time immemorial, mountains have been man’s physical, spiritual and emotional refuge in times of distress because of its closeness to the heavens. The Gran Cordillera, one of the country’s longest mountain ranges, never ceases to magnetize lovers of extreme motoring because of its challenging terrain and the breathtaking panorama.
For a consummate odyssey, do a loop drive of the mighty ranges and get to discover the rich nature, adventure and culture of the north. A new must-visit is Mt. Data Hotel in Bauko, Mountain Province, situated 95 kms away from Baguio City and a traditional rest stop for travelers along the Halsema Highway.
In between the scenic drive are scores of picturesque viewpoints, vegetable farms, flower gardens, quaint dining spots, and cloud formations which can bring a whiff of fresh air on your Facebook timeline. Perched at 2,227 meters above sea level, the boutique heritage hotel recently got a facelift from the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) to bring back its glory days. The pine-tree lined lodging in a 7.7-hectare land is just 53 kms away from Sagada, a sought-after highland hideaway. One of its quaint corners is its old upright steam engine boiler which now serves like a museum piece.
Commune with nature and shut yourself out from social media as you spend some enchanted evening here and relish the traditional indigenous dishes. From this point, you can proceed driving to Sagada, Bontoc or Ifugao Province, home of the famed Rice Terraces, a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Pit Stop 2: Tagaytay
This mountain resort city is the top-of-mind go-to place for Metro Manilans for a quick respite for day trippers. And while this all-too-familiar place is bursting at the seams on weekends, there are still spots where you can have a tranquil staycation away from the madding crowd.
Among these is Nurture Wellness Village, the country’s pioneer wellness spa which offers a distinctive brand of “ecotherapy” and several wellness packages which help the body pull out toxins through natural healing.
A detox program it concocted 2 years ago is the Reboot & Recharge, an overnight therapy which was designed as a post-Covid recovery, but can be repurposed for election-related stress. It includes sound healing, touch therapy, Tai Qi-Gong, yoga, laughter yoga and dance facilitated by certified wellness coaches.
You can also stroll around the farm, gardens and greeneries, and stop to smell the flowers by the wayside to be relieved of the political angst. Cap your treatments at its Farmer’s Table restaurant which serves gourmet dishes from fresh produce, and are best paired with Nurture’s cleansing kale juice.
Pit Stop 3: Badian
A 105-km drive southwest of Cebu City, this rustic town is a charming mix of mountains and the sea which will remind you that the Philippines is a pearl despite its unfathomable politics. Healing begins with the lovely drive through Old World towns, winding highways, and sky of blue and sea of green.
An upscale hideaway is Badian Island Wellness Resort, which boasts of elegant rooms which masterfully blend Filipino and Asian tropical design motifs to exude tropical splendor. Its spacious and opulent pool villas suites have individual seawater lap pools which overlook the bay and the mountains.
Its Spa Village takes pride in its badehaus pavilions, Thalasso man-made waterfalls and filtered seawater pool for a rejuvenating dip, and an assortment of treatments which include its decadent deluxe four-hand massage performed by 2 therapists.
A local icon for the past 30 years, the sprawling island haven also has a restaurant for native cuisine, 2 bars, nipa hut-themed shops, and lots of green patches which will soothe your body and mind. Recreational activities such as yoga, zumba, biking, kayaking, SUP paddling, snorkeling and scuba diving, and excursions to nearby tourist attractions will take away your thoughts on political toxicity.
For an adrenaline rush, take on the exciting canyoneering adventure which cuts through the cliffs of Alegria and winds up at Kawasan Falls in Badian which is known for its Instagram-worthy massive cascade and azure natural basin.
A true-blue day tripper since age 19, he has travelled across the archipelago by land, air, and sea. As a communications trainer, travel photojournalist, tourist mapmaker, scuba diver, environment advocate, or simply a family road tripper, he has imbibed the diversity of the Philippines by learning the basic way of life of the places he visits.