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home away from home

>> Sunday, November 11, 2007

Casa San Pablo is located in the heart of San Pablo. The owner, Boots Alcantara, doesn't want to call the place a resort. It's a bed and breakfast experience. I call it a mixture of home and art.

Last week, the Galileo team went to Casa San Pablo for a team-building seminar. As soon as we got out of the van, the first thing I noticed was the swimming pool. My heart melts every time my eyes see a clean pool. It had a spectacular view of nature. Trees and plants surrounded the pool. There was a small bridge that went over a river and connected to the main place.

If there's one place you would want to unwind from the stresses of Manila life, this is the place to be. It's your home away from home, a total Filipino paradise. An overnight stay includes three scrumptious meals and a cozy bed set in a Filipino setting. Each room looks like a play house. Room 6 -- the room where most of us stayed in -- was a small room. It was designed it a way that it wouldn't look small because believe it or not, we were able to fit in seven people without feeling crowded. Each room has two baths and toilets with running hot water. The windows are old style: made of wood and you close it by sliding slabs of the window from side to side. Ventilation is not a problem because there are two airconditioning devices per room. Everywhere you look, there is wood. Wooden cabinets. Wooden doors. Wooden beds. Wooden stairs. Wooden walls. Cozy indeed.

One thing I don't like about going out of town is the problem of food. Whenever a family would prepare for a trip, half of the van will be filled with pans and marinated food. Casa San Pablo promises a paradise, and they included the food in the package. The meals are provided on set times, and all you have to do is to show up in the dining area. The food is set on a buffet style, which means is that you can eat to your heart's desire. There is an overflowing supply of food and all meals represent the food pyramid. There is a healthy supply of meat, vegetables, dessert and fruits. Your mouth will water just by the sight of it. I think I gained two pounds with all the food I ate. I can't pinpoint a favorite dish because every single dish they placed on the food is delicious. You'll really take a second shot after your first plate is emptied.

Nature is everywhere, even in the rooms. The flowers are freshly picked from their own garden, and there is at least one living flower in each room. We were so amazed, we kept on touching the flower. "Totoo ba yan?" ("Is it real?") we asked ourselves. We looked like ignoramuses (Is there such a word as ignoramuses?) because it seemed that it was the first time that we have seen a flower inside a room. I guess it's because of the plastic plants and flowers sold in Manila. Manila people are too rushed to even 'stop and smell the flowers.' They even placed books and magazines inside rooms. Nonfiction books, poetry readings, and magazines are stacked on tables. You can take out a book, stay in a hammock, and read under the sky. You're gonna feel like you're Frodo on the first scene of Fellowship of the Ring. Your back against the tree, book in hand, grass tickling your feet, gently breeze blowing on your face.

If lazing around all day is not your entirely your thing, they have other activities to keep you occupied. They have a half-court for basketball, badminton/volleyball court, a swimming pool (I have mentioned this already, and I can mention it again. haha), and a tennis court. They also allow budding photographers, painters, and musicians to visit the place. The place holds small recitals for classical instruments. They sometimes hold mini concerts when they have 50 or more guests. Painters such as the famous Malang and the Saturday group hold painting sessions in Casa San Pablo. I was inspired by the paintings on the walls, that I took an attempt to illustrate one of the places there. I'm not really a painter or something, but the place is just so beautiful that it inspired me to draw. When we were there, there was a group of photographers who were all over the place, clicking here and there. I wanted to snag one of their cameras because it was so cool. I bet it could produce very swanky shots of the place. I only had my camera phone which could only take pictures on a 1-point-something-megapixel-quality. The pictures only came out pretty when they were on sepia mode.

Anyway, moving on to the place. It's really a home because it's really land owned by the family. Majority of the hectares and hectares of land belongs to the family and is restricted to the guests (though they don't have fences to tell you that it's restricted. The only landmark we have is Boots' mom's house, which is just meters away from the dining area). So once in a while, the mom would visit the dining area to mingle with the guests. Even Boots welcomes new guests. They're really hands on, and you'll see how dedicated they are in putting love in a peaceful place.

They're open to companies and families. To ensure the crowd control, they only allow pre-booked reservations. They don't allow walk-ins. You can check out their website for more pictures and descriptions of each facility. I fell in love with the place the first time I saw it. I promise you, it's the best place to relax and be one with nature. It's your home away from home.

Visit them at www.casasanpablo.com

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