POSTSCRIPT / February 2, 2014 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Opinion Columnist

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Moving to higher ground to survive

MT. ARAYAT – To survive in this age of tidal waves, massive flooding, sinking reclaimed and alluvial soil – not to mention medical and spiritual depression — it may be a good idea to move to higher ground.

The lessons of super typhoons Yolanda in the Visayas and of Ondoy in the national capital region are graphic enough to validate the thought that it may be time to consider moving to higher ground, if only to survive.

The sea and the rivers flowing to it have always been a source of life. But, reacting to centuries of neglect and abuse, Nature turns once in an angry while into a monster exacting vengeance or moving to restore the balance, the status quo ante so to speak, of the ecosystem.

Seeking relief for ailing body and mind, some of us go back to Nature for cures or we elevate our minds to the higher climes of transcendental meditation.

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HOLISTIC HEALING: Just a little over an hour’s drive from Manila is a wellness garden tucked on the slope of this mystical mountain of Pampanga for those tired of body and spirit, or those who simply want a nature retreat far from the madding crowd.

The Orissa Garden of Wellness in barangay Ayala in Magalang town, offers a relaxing regimen of diet and therapy for patrons in need of total healing as well as for visitors pining for a haven and a vegetarian cuisine.

“Ayala” is not to be confused with “Bunduc Alaya”, a name that older folk use to refer to this extinct volcano watching over the Central Plain. Instead of their weekly Balitaan in the Clark Freeport, members of the Capampangan in Media Inc. (CAMI) visited Orissa over the weekend.

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SELF-HEALING: Orissa President/CEO Riza L.Lim, a licensed and certified clinical master herbalist, is a product of the Natural Healing and Naturopathy in Encinitas, California, and the Inner Mind Institute. Besides being a REIKI Master, she is a yoga and holistic healing practitioner and a clinical nutrition consultant.

She says that 2.2-hectare Orissa operates as a “self-healing” center, where visitors or “students” are guided through a healthy diet and regimen to overcome their spiritual and physical illnesses.

Lim explains: “While our facilities and services appear to cater to so-called ‘lost souls and tired bodies,’ we also welcome ordinary visitors in search of new experiences to spend their weekends for physical and spiritual benefits.”

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ZAP IT!: Visitors afflicted with cancer and other life-threatening diseases may opt for the “zapper” treatment that involves the use of a German-designed electronic machine that diagnoses ailments and cures the sick organ.

“Cancer, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, etc., stem from a person’s mental and spiritual imbalance,” Lim explains, adding that “Orissa’s holistic regimen restores the balance of the mind, body and spirit.”

She says Orissa is the fruition of years of research and travel around the world, particularly India and Tibet, where she studied how monks and holy men achieve balance and enlightenment. This explains the choice of location on Mt. Arayat.

The garden offers overnight, weekend and week-long stays, including spa services (massage and scrub), vegan and vegetarian diet, herbs, natural vitamins, alternative healing, detox programs, yoga, meditation, life-coaching and counseling prayer and spiritual retreat.

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BAGUIO HOME: Up North in the Pines City, we have discovered a belter alternative to the usual air-cooled Baguio box called a hotel room.

Since opening some years back, Azalea Residences has become a holiday favorite, being the first hotel and all-suite vacation residence with the full services and amenities of a serviced apartment. All rooms have living, dining, and kitchen facilities.

Azalea has well-appointed 46 deluxe hotel rooms, 16 one-bedroom suites, 33 two-bedroom suites, three three-bedroom suites, and a presidential suite. It is on Leonard Wood Loop near Teachers’ Camp.

Guests have remarked that the rooms and suites give them a feeling of home. There is a living area with a sofa bed and flat-screen television with cable connection, and toilet and hot-and-cold bath. The two-bedroom and three-bedroom suites have separate master bathrooms.

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AMENITIES: Azalea amenities include a dining set, crockery, kitchen appliances and utensils, coffee and tea-making facilities, queen-sized beds with imported bed linen, plus a balcony in choice rooms.

From their suites, guests can step out to enjoy Azalea’s other features: lobby lounge, playground, business center, Wi-Fi internet connection, 24-hour medical assistance, and the in-house restaurant Tradisyon.

After a day of exploring the outdoors, the sight-seeing leads back home to Azalea. One can choose to kick back at the 8 Degrees Bar or dine at Tradisyon.

General Manager Eliza Escobar told us that Azalea in Baguio was inaugurated in 2011 by Foghorn Inc., an affiliate of 8990 Housing Development Corp.

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TRAVEL DETERRENTS: Sluggish traffic from Manila, squatter shanty eyesores, overcrowding and ill-managed growth have been among the deterrents to Baguio tourism.

But Manila-Baguio driving time has been reduced by one to two hours from the usual six hours, with the linking of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx), the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) and the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEx).

The 89-km TPLEx which will go as far as Rosario, La Union — before the climb to Baguio via Kennon Road or Marcos Highway– is complete only up to Pura town in Tarlac where traffic joins MacArthur Highway.

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FOUR LANES: The 23-km portion from Tarlac City to Paniqui of TPLEx was opened for the New Year holidays. The part from Tarlac to Carmen in Pangasinan is expected to be ready in April, cutting the two-hour travel time from Tarlac to Carmen to 30 minutes.

The final stage 25.83-km part from Urdaneta in Pangasinan to Rosario is scheduled to be completed by 2015.

San Miguel Corp. top honcho Ramon S. Ang has ordered the original two-lane TPLEx widened to four lanes. Once completed, it will cut travel time from Tarlac to La Union to an hour from the present 3.5 hours.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of February 2, 2014)

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