Thursday, November 12, 2020

Unfolding the Great I S T O R Y A

 2020 is about to end. In contrast, it doesn't seem to feel like it has been almost a year. By listening to the deafening and disheartening blubber and clamor on social media about the STORIES of this year while dealing with your own inhibitions, it would only collectively end up in EXHAUSTION - of the mind, spirit, and body. The desire to unchain yourself from this quagmire is incessant.

Discovering and going to new places always awaken my interest. It is one of the most gratifying things to do. This deep enthusiasm has led me to come upon a story of magnificent beauty - ISTORYA.

After all the travel restrictions were lifted, my feet have started to develop an itch to #Lagalag and my dauntless heart has begun to long for a great feeling of tranquil ambiance. It was the day I was browsing my social media feeds when I came across a sponsored post. I was caught by how the photos were taken. However, my skeptical mind was telling me to be cautious. It might be another case of "expectation versus reality." Also, the place is a little bit far. As a result, I ended up digging for more proof to validate their claim and satisfy my curiosity. As I see more recommended photos and reviews, I was ultimately convinced that the place is worth a try. I sent the link to their page to another dauntless drifter - Sharmaine. We decided and agreed to set the date, book a reservation for a DAY TOUR and explore the place. 

It was in the middle of the typhoon days. At first, I was apprehensive to go because of the erratic weather condition.

The day came, and we agreed to meet at 5am to hail a bus to ROXAS CITY. The start of a great ISTORYA begins.

I always love bus rides. It always feels like a great expedition to the unknown. Curiosity is like a tingling sensation in my heart that makes me more curious about the unknown. A beautiful unknown. The ride was more or less than three hours to the appointed destination. I spent the whole duration appreciating the wonderful glimpses of nature and praying for God's favor and protection to be with us on the journey. As the bus was approaching the destination, I showed the place to the bus ticket collector, and surprisingly, he revealed to us that the bus would not directly pass by our destined location. I felt a little disheartened. Just for a moment. No buses from Iloilo City could directly pass that town. The end destination of the bus is the city terminal. The bus ticket collector and the driver directed us to hire a tricycle so we can precisely be taken to ISTORYA. 

Looking for a tricycle for hire was chaotic and nerve-wracking because a lot of them crowded around us that seemed like we were in a market full of noisy vendors. It was exhausting. It was more exhausting than taking an almost 3-hour bus ride. To get away from that scene, we finally decided to choose one of the many. Luckily, the trike driver was very knowledgeable of the place and very accommodating. Since ISTORYA is located in a very private place in the middle of a town, he offered to pick us up by the time we decide to go back. The trike driver hasn't heard so much about the place. On the other hand, after the long winding and turning to different streets, we were able to reach the main road to ISTORYA. How did we know? It was simply because they provided street signs and directions going to the place to be. We easily trailed on the signs and eventually arrived in ISTORYA.

Upon entering the gate and going down the trike, my eyes were glued to the unbelievable view in front of me. We arrived a little earlier than their opening time. The friendly and welcoming security guard guided us in and entertained us as we wait by answering our inquiries about the place. According to him, ISTORYA is a 2-year-old forest resort. That answered why it was not very known to everybody yet. 

The location was previously a forest which was further developed into a scenic place. The flock of different species of plants is the façade that you would definitely see as you enter. The towering trees and species of palm trees perched into an arch all the way through the cemented road. We were signaled to check-in. As we go up on the way to the reception area, our eyes were greeted by several numbers of the controversial giant alocasia plants. The reception area has a vintage feel. The health check protocols were carried out. The receptionist was helpful and we were asked to advance our order for our food. The price of the food is affordable and reasonable. He then gave us a contact number that we can call whenever we need something; as one of the adherence to the social distancing policy. Since it was a day trip, we were led to a function hall and we were given our own table and chairs. The table was already set with drinking water and utensils. We were the first guests on that day. 

After a while, we decided to roam around the place. The place was really admirable and even beyond expectations. We were charmed by the place. Anywhere we go is surrounded by flourishing greenery.  The pool is wide, blue, and inviting. Each of the rattan furniture pieces thoughtfully placed around it exudes an imposing statement. The music playing in the background sets the mood for an enjoyable dip into the pool. I was still feeling unsure about swimming though. As I look ahead from the pool, a maze pathway and a commanding façade of the Magdalena Salon de Baile, are peeking out into the view. The excitement intensified so we changed into another set of clothing. Going into the Magdalena ballroom was even more magical. It feels like we have been transported into the renaissance era. The whole grand ballroom was an explicit beauty. Grand has become an understatement. From its wooden furnishings to the chandeliers, the whole building is spawning a regal semblance. The iconic checkerboard patterned floor added great ounces to its regality. Then, there are those unique spiral staircases that give access to the show-stopping foyers. The whole interior and exterior of the ballroom are a statement. 

Furthermore, we also indulged in the delectable dishes on their menu, "pechay salad" was a first for me but it was the most outstanding among the dishes served to us. Don't get me wrong, all the food was really delicious and surprisingly affordable. The food was freshly prepared and cooked in their in-house restaurant, Cafe Blanco, which we missed visiting, unfortunately. Also, the experience would not be complete without enjoying the enticing water as well as the fun of kayaking in the pool. Again, kayaking was a first for me. As we expected, we enjoyed the pool and kayaking so much. The fact that we were the only guests who were swimming at that time was a plus. We were so captivated by the moment that we didn't even mind even if it was pouring. The rain made it more thrilling and fun.

It was about 30 minutes before our pick-up time when we decided to culminate our indulgence.

The whole experience was so rewarding that it seemed like we stayed longer although it was just a day tour. The place was indeed worth all the twists and turns. It is like a gift from God. A gift of rest. Rest for our body, mind, soul, and spirit. As Psalm 25:14 (TPT) says: "There's a private place reserved for the lovers of God where they sit near Him and receive the revelation secrets of His promises."

ISTORYA is indeed a place where you will be able to experience the beauty of relaxation and the pleasure of nature. A place where you gain an ISTORYA to tell when you leave.

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