Photos by Lorna Llanes
Once in a while, we find ourselves caught in the ruthless realities of life so we seek solace to keep our balance. I would like to believe, whether you admit it or not, that we all share the same longing for some alone time in order to reconnect with our center. Do you agree?
For this columnist, I find sanctuary in the peace and quiet of the Adoration Chapel in San Antonio Parish. Without fail, when I feel the need for calm, I find myself en route to this chapel regardless of whether it is day or night. More often than not, prayer is my core workout. This is my go-to place to re-energize every muscle of my soul.
One weekend, I decided to take my so-called “me time” further. I wanted to stay somewhere near Metro Manila but away from the usual noise and congestion. I took the journey South and stayed in one of the well-appointed suites of Crimson Hotel in Filinvest City. To urban dwellers, the quick drive to Alabang is the best way to breathe – where every road is tree-lined and green is more concrete (pun intended).
Fortunately, my “suite staycation” in this beautiful hotel in the South included exclusive access to the Executive Lounge at the top floor. For two days, this was my private sanctuary where they served hot and cold beverage the whole day to my desire towards cocktails with fresh salads, appetizing hors d’oeuvres and my choice of (unlimited) wine or spirits to cap my day. Suffice it to say, this hotel sustained my need for nourishment and they served it impeccably in style.
The next day, I decided to go early for breakfast and savor the morning sun over freshly juiced carrot and apple fruits, hot pancakes with fresh caramelized banana and whipped cream prepared a la minute by the chef, and a lovely serving of Eggs Benedict with fresh greens and plump red tomatoes on the side. (Hmm…) I probably took heaps of more servings in the splendid breakfast buffet since afterwards, I was literally in a food coma.
After a deep (and very sound) sleep over my bedroom’s lush pillows and heavenly bed linens, I woke up feeling refreshed! My mind was flowing with joy and so ready to write this Sunday’s column.
If the tone of this Sunday’s story is reminiscent of American author Elizabeth Gilbert’s journey to find “balance” – it was actually intentional (with a big smile on my face). What took Gilbert a year seeking, this columnist found in a matter of weeks sans the need to travel to three countries. In fact, I even learned to speak Italian!
“Buona Festa Nazionale…” expressed the lovely Madame Agnes Roscigno as she welcomed my beautiful companion and me to the venue on the occasion celebrating the 70th National Day of the Republic of Italy.
Well-loved Italian Ambassador to the Philippines, H.E. Massimo Roscigno and his gracious Filipina wife, welcomed over 500 guests to the Harbor Garden Tent of Sofitel Philippine Plaza to celebrate their beloved country’s “Festa della Repubblica.”
Indeed, it was a festive national holiday of Italy complete with a chorale and The Corazzieri (or Italian president’s guards) “on guard” for a photo op with guests, not to mention the Lamborghini sports cars, Vespa motorbikes, among other known Italian luxury brands on display that evening.
Overflowing Italian vino and sparkling wine kept the crowd luxuriously hydrated and a feast of the best of Italian cuisine satisfied every tummy in the predominantly A-list crowd in the diplomatic and business circles.
The festive evening was as close as I can get in experiencing the energy of Italy as I exchanged wonderful stories from expatriates and new acquaintances on topics about food, travel and interesting places to visit. Italy is definitely on top of my bucket list!
The long presence of Italy in our country is testament to the enduring love affair and support to Philippine development in the field of business, agriculture and grants via Italian NGOs for housing and livelihood projects on specific areas affected by typhoon Yolanda.
With love, I say – grazie!
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