And when I’m tired with the world, what I want is to rest under the shade with someone… someone willing to eat all my ego and free time, someone whose weirdness is compatible with mine, someone who can put up with all my whims and imperfections, someone who can assure me everyday that I matter like the air I breathe.
Perhaps that shade could be best enjoyed at Lilom, a small tropical paradise in marine-rich coastal town of San Teodoro in Mabini, Batangas. Finally, after years of (daydreaming) trying, I was able to book a reservation. They’re almost always fully-booked every weekend.
Lilom used to be a family rest house of Mike and Pinky Dimagiba, before they decided to open it to people who want to seek solace and experience the peace and rustic charm of their hidden sanctuary. They actually named their place after a southern Tagalog word for “under the shade”, because of the abundance of trees (such as bitaog or palo maria, bougainvillea, coconut, mango and star apple) in the property that always give shade and comfort from the summer sun or pouring rain. It is 3-4 hours away from Manila via commute and can be reached by foot from the hilltop highway of San Teodoro via more than 200 steps (so much exercise for the day!).
They have seven “house rules and expectations” for guests. Being seafood lover, I got a little sad with their rule no. 4 – “Please understand that Anilao is a marine protected area and prohibits commercial fishing thus we do not serve a lot of seafood in the buffet. You might be dreaming of crabs, shrimps, and oysters… sorry you won’t find that anywhere in Anilao.” Anyhow, their last rule made me smile - “We encourage you to leave your singing ambitions and the karaoke behind. We don't allow it in the resort” – for it is an assurance that only the cacophony of waves and rustling of tress will be the constant sound I will hear for the entire duration of my stay.
I love every corner, every intimate detail of the pocket-size resort. I can tell that it was a real labor of creativity, artistry and love.
The registration area is decorated with artworks, and has a corner with board games, parasols and yoga mats for guests’ use. It also serves as mini library and a store for eco-friendly tote bags.
There are seven modern nipa hut style accommodations, namely Satcho, Butanding, Paraw, Pawikan, Capiz, Kubo, and Tuko (where I stayed). Made from natural elements of stones, wood, bamboo and palm, they all look homey and relaxing but I got smitten with the first and the last one.
The rooms have canopy beds, artisan furniture, airconditioning, private bathroom with rain bucket shower head, and veranda or terrace overlooking the garden and the sea, and hammock, which is perfect for siesta. They also have natural light source and ventilation. As promised, there’s no TV and sound gadgets installed in all of the rooms to ensure tranquility of the place. The door handles are little pawikan-inspired. And Tuko Room has these two cute and adorable resident lizard stuff toys.
Their most sought-after beachfront cottage, Satcho (named in memory of their dog), has the most wonderful sea view.
I wanted to snorkel but since the wind was often strong, I opted to just take a dip in their wading pool. It was so refreshing.
Staying at Lilom comes with full-board meals - arrival buffet day lunch, afternoon snack, sunset cocktail, dinner and breakfast. Guests have the option to dine in their al-fresco café, by the lawn under the shade of trees, or by the pool in a romantic set-up.
I relished all the home-cooked food I ate from the fish sinigang, pansit, chicken barbeque, grilled blue marlin, kare-kare, daing na bangus, to pandesal with guava and mango jelly, pancakes with muscovado butter spread, turon, saba con yelo, and fresh fruits such as banana, mangoes and rambutan; as well as the drinks like mojito, tsokolate and the unlimited French-pressed kape barako.
Just a few minute walk from Lilom is a not-so-secret beach rock lagoon, an ideal spot for swimming and relaxing. This piece of heaven with crystal-clear turquoise blue water really enchanted me as if it were my one in a 7 billion.
And when the gorgeous Lilom dusk came, my heart skipped a beat. This is like an add-on to an already exquisite and remarkable place combined with an impressive and warm hospitality of the staff.
And all I could ever think was “All you are, right at this very moment, is enough.”
Lilom Resort and Gallery Cafe
San Teodoro, Mabini, Batangas