May 23, 2018

The Stay at Plant

“When I loved myself enough, I came to love being alone, surrounded by silence, awed by its spell, listening to inner space. My stay at the Plant made me love myself more.” That was my affirmation when Ate Emily asked me to write on the Plant’s guestbook just before I left. It was written with candor and a little help from Kim McMillen. Remarkably, my short and sweet respite in this beautiful healing place made such a powerful personal impression.

Tucked away in a serene and secluded corner of Silang, Cavite, The Plant isn’t just a home, it is also a portal to a world that promises abundant opportunities for self-restoration, meditation, artistic pursuits and rejuvenation in the bosom of mother nature. 

The Plant, which opened to the public in late 2015, is actually the brainchild of young “green” entrepreneurs Marisse Reyes and Peter Annink. But when the couple decided to relocate to another country a year later, their Indian friend Amena Anantishi Bal took over. Amena is a plant-based vegetarian, healer and yogi; and her principles in life and religion basically apply to her home. At Plant, everybody is encouraged to be one with nature, celebrate slow and earth-friendly living, practice ahimsa or non-violence, and nurture the wisdom of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – a Sanskrit phrase meaning “the world is one family”. When one learns to have feelings for others, one grows spiritually.

The Plant is a 10-minute drive away from Olivares, Tagaytay. Its gate is partly covered with tropical vine white mandevillea, and marked with a visible signage bearing the name “Plant Bistro”. The Plant also used to be a by-reservation restaurant for plant-based cuisine and cocktails.

I was warmly welcomed by the caretaker Ate Emily. Amena was in India during the time of my visit, and is expected to return the week after.

When I entered the cottage and saw a framed photo of Ganesha (the elephant-headed god in Hinduism) and a statuette of Buddha, I could already sense that it is a home of a true spiritualist. There are also motivational prayer flags for love, happiness and courage, and a welcome message on a board that says “Breathe and be lovingly healed, joyfully whole now”.

Every form, adornment in the house – healing crystals, Himalayan rock salt lamp, mandala mat, deity figurines, fixture display of chants and prayer - is a Divine expression and infused with the intention of expressing the Divine.

There are two room accommodations at the Plant. The Garden Terrace room with a king-size four-poster bed with canopy, single side bed and a private bathroom, is perfect for couple or small family of three.  On the bed, I found a wicker tray with fresh flowers, incense sticks, and a pitcher of water with crystals for wellness. The room looks refreshing-green, romantic; smells fresh and aromatic. I had a wonderful stay in this room.

Right across the Garden Terrace is the Sunrise Chakra room. It has a queen size floor bed that could accommodate two. The room’s color motif is vibrant, an interplay between lavender and yellow. It’s an east facing room so it has a good view of sunrise.

Beside the stairs is an eccentric-looking bar with hanging wine and whisky bottlesThe unique art installation was the idea of Peter since he’s a good mixologist. 

The sacred nourishing kitchen space is well-functioning but only accessible to guests on special requests. The kitchen top counter is decorated with various vegetarian cookbooks.

The reading nook is filled with books on various genres mainly on gardening, yoga, self-help, Hinduism, religious poetry and arts. The book worm within me was revived. Some of the morals I was able to imbibe from perusing the books are: How you feel about you is in your hands; Life rewards effort, not excuses; The first trick to happiness and success is to appreciate what you’ve already got.

Artists will also love this place as they can request for art supplies at a nominal charge, and paint a card or express their creative talent on canvass.

The back patio is a lovely spot for siesta. It has a hammock and chairs for lounging, and overlooks the western part of the garden. It is also adorned with seven small Chakra prayer flags. Each of the flag has a distinct color and chakra symbol (root, sacral, solar plexus, heart, throat, 3rd eye, crown) with corresponding mantra. Chakras are centers of energy in the body, each one overseeing various physical and spiritual functions. The flags are traditionally hung to spread blessings and help promote balance, peace and happiness.

There is a small, stand-alone rainbow room for those who want to meditate.

My favorite part of the cottage is the screened veranda. It has three middle-sized wooden tables with comfy throw pillows - such cozy spot to eat, chill, read about plants, work, or simply do nothing. On top of each table is this gratitude stone to inspire guests to cultivate a sense of gratitude, an important social-emotional skill that can increase meaningful joy and improve health.

Another thing to look forward at the Plant is the vegan breakfast. It was one of the healthiest, sumptuous, and visually appetizing set meal I had in years. Ate Emily prepared champorado with pili nuts, banana peanut butter toast with edible periwinkle flowers, fresh fruits, brewed local coffee and tarragon tea. I won’t mind turning vegan for its health benefits, and if they are as delicious as these.

Since the Plant is a strictly vegan place, bringing in of any meat, fish and food with animal product is not allowed. Guests may try nearby restaurants – Asiong, Bawai’s or Chateu Hestia – for lunch or dinner.   
The Plant has a well-maintained garden with trees, herbs and flowering plants, perfect for strolling and self-reflection. Plants have numerous salubrious benefits. They help improve air quality, reduce stress and create a feeling of well-being, and have positive effect on mental health. How enjoyable it was touching, feeling the leaves of pine trees. Flora and fauna are essentially good for the eyes and soul.

I also explored by foot the neighboring area, passing by pineapple plantations and Santuario del Niño, until sundown. Sometimes, knowing your own darkness is the best way to deal with the darkness of other people.

I left the Plant in a very relaxed and peaceful state of mind, full of energy but also longing. 

Love is all. All is you.

From Manila, take Tagaytay bound bus from Lawton, Buendia or South Terminal in Pasay. Get off in Olivares (or Malabag – which is nearer to the Plant). From the highway, ride a tricycle going to the Plant. It’s a few minutes-away after Asiong’s. Better use Google maps in locating the place.

The Stay at Plant
Vito Belarmino St., Brgy. Bucal
Silang Cavite
Tel. No.: 0917-8448703
(Strictly by reservation)
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