There’s a scrapbook at the reception area of The Farm at San Benito where guests are free to jot down comments, thank you notes, and other thoughts before they check out.
During our first trip to The Farm in September, AO and I read many interesting stories from guests all over the world. Most people come for a quick holistic retreat, while others are curious to try out the vegan and organic lifestyle that The Farm is known for. I’ve read inspiring messages from people who were given another chance in life after undergoing The Farm’s alternative medical procedures that help alleviate cancer and other ailments.
My family and friends who have been there for me the past few weeks know my story well. While I don’t think any therapeutic or modern-age treatments can heal the pains I’m going through, I still chose The Farm as my refuge.
AO and I celebrated our second anniversary here in September. I was surprised why he chose this vacation spot over other sunny beach resorts in Batangas. The answer came clear to me a month later, when my beloved AO succumbed to depression.
I will skip the painful accounts that led to that tragic day. All I will say is that he battled depression, insomnia and anxiety for months before that day.
I’m back at The Farm, this time on my own. I’m on my fourth day, still seeking what AO himself came here for weeks ago—enlightenment, retreat, and emotional relief. I did a number of Yoga and meditation classes, paid for a relaxation massage, and got closer to nature with the many hidden waterfalls, trails, lush greenery, and free-range animals that roam around.
I haven’t found a magical elixir to take the deep-rooted pain away, although their coconut-based organic products and vegan dishes are lovely. I’ve made new friends—tourists from Canada, Australia, London, and Hong Kong, and even the friendly waiters who are residents of Batangas. None of them know my story, which is a temporary escape from reality.
I’ve marked my regular spot in Alive restaurant, a small table near the corner where I see a nice view of the vegetable garden and duck pond. Come to think of it, it’s the same table AO and I got in September.
I enjoy mornings at the lounge of my makeshift rice barn, the Sulu Terrace. I’ve written many letters and postcards to him there. I’ve contemplated about my life as I watched butterflies, birds, and tree frogs explore the forest around me. A tree frog even managed to scare me by popping out of nowhere in my bathroom. I spent many paranoid hours looking for that lil’ guy in the shower. He’s probably still in there, hiding somewhere.
I’ve enjoyed countless walks around The Farm and afternoon tea breaks with fellow travelers in the meeting hall. I’ve even organized a full schedule of Yoga classes and activities to maximize my remaining days here. If only I had enough money to live here for the rest of my life.
But I guess I can’t hide here forever. I have to return to the city to face (or avoid) my new fear of crowds and tall buildings. I have to return to the workaday world and face the reality that the person I thought I would spend the rest of my life with has left me to wander this planet alone.
But I’ll keep coming back to The Farm. It’s one of the few places where I found safe refuge, and I fervently hope that, even for a glimmer of a moment, AO felt the same here.