La Union’s Secret Escape

As the capital of La Union, the city of San Fernando is as urbanized as expected. Despite it being coastal, it is rendered with building after building from shopping areas to fast food chains. For the first-timer, it comes as a surprise that an escape from Manila will only be met with rush hour traffic in another municipality miles away from home.

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However, drive further east away from the bustling city activity until the roads narrow down to a straight path towards a refreshing view of the mountains. As the cityscape is replaced by lush farmlands, and the northeast roads lead you snaking uphill, then you know you’re on the right direction towards the historical Bacsil Ridge.
A monument has been erected to honor the courageous Ilokanos who fought against the last bastion of the retreating Japanese forces during World War II. At the present, it offers a stunning view of the San Fernando coast filled with its verdant woodlands.

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Ascending the ridge reveals a passage way into sprawling greenery with the same mesmerizing Bacsil view further ahead. Barely populated, an abundant thatch of trees and saplings line the 5-hectare property along with a few nipa huts that serve as restrooms and more importantly, resting grounds.

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This is what constitutes Nature’s Healing Home, a noble cause from a couple with humble intentions. Owned by Richard and Prescilla Garret, the land has been converted from the usual mountain top resort into a venue for physical and spiritual healing and wellness.

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Apart from the affordable packages and rooms that are below Php 1,000 per night, services offered personally by Mrs. Garret include energy healing, acupuncture, reflexology, yoga and other holistic therapies to rejuvenate the mind, body and spirit.

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Apart from a setting for pure rest and relaxation, Nature’s Healing Home is a medley of for profit and non-profit foundation which seeks to empower women, children and families through workshops and teachings that are meant to grow their mental, spiritual and physical selves as well.

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Walking around the retreat facility and its wide open spaces, you’ll notice vegetation growing to and fro while fruit trees are scattered about waiting for their season. So as a healing center on one hand, and a farm on another, it is only fair to expect organic fare from their modest café.

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Despite a menu limited to pancakes and sandwiches (since kebabs in the past may have been too adventurous to those residing in San Fernando), you can be assured of their farm-to-table freshness. Cassava has become the main ingredient in their fare utilizing it as flour and even deep frying them as a crunchy falafel.

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Nature’s Healing Home is open to the public and serves as a welcome respite for uphill bikers and motorists along the Bacsil trail. While there, have a chat with Prescilla herself who is very visible and oversees everything from kitchen operations to property management.

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Best revel in the virgin air and the dense forestation that goes as far as the eye can see as long as you can before needing to go back down to the tumultuous city below.

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