Manggapuri: Refuge from city life stress
Cynthia Flores, a cancer survivor, now knows how stress can seriously damage one’s health, from what she had gone through.
“I could not understand what was giving me stress. I was happy with my work, but it was unknowingly giving me stress,” said Flores, or “Chi” to her friends, 65, and a mother of two.
In 2002, the Negrense business administration graduate of Maryknoll College was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her oncologist advised her to free herself from stress to fight the life-threatening ailment. “I asked myself what is it that I value most—my life or my work. Of course, it was my life, so I closed down all my businesses,” she said.
She is a former exporter of inlaid accessories and leather bags, and one of the founders of the Association of Negros Producers (ANP). Her life had revolved around her business and the ANP when cancer struck.
But in 2011, Flores found a 4-hectare property nestled next to the lush greenery and mountains of Purok Mangga, Barangay Igmayaan, Salvador Benedicto town, some 45 kilometers from Negros Occidental’s provincial capital of Bacolod City. It offers a spectacular view of Mt. Kanlaon, an active volcano that straddles Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental, and Mt. Marapara.
She and her husband, Raoul, an engineer, built the place into the Manggapuri Villas, a resort-hideaway for those who want to recharge due to stress from their daily grind. The name was derived from the subsitio, Mangga, and “puri,” the Balinese word for “sanctuary.”
It may be a little far, but it is a perfect refuge from the stress of city life, she said.
Each room of the U-shaped villas allows visitors to enjoy the fresh air and the view of the mountains.
Local craftsmen made furniture put together by pegs, not nails. One table is made from the roots of a mahogany tree that comes in the shape of a cross.
Adorning the walls are Flores’ cross-stitched replicas of paintings of the masters, like Fernando Amorsolo and Manuel Baldemor. Her sister taught her to cross-stitch to have something to focus on.
“When you are used to doing something, it is very difficult to stop,” Flores said. An artsy person, she was soon producing her own masterpieces in her workplace, where butterflies flutter in and out.
Healing does not stop with the view. Juices or tea extracted from medicinal plants are served to guests.
The sauna bath faces the mountains. Still being readied are camping grounds, a dipping pool and a seven-cornered chapel with a roof shaped like a “salakot” (native hat)—a perfect background for those who want to meditate or get married.
Electricity is supplied by solar panels. “As much as possible, we would like to leave a zero footprint,” Flores said. A generator, however, is on standby for emergency situations.
On Nov. 15, shortly before midnight, resort guests were treated to a unique display of eight falling stars while lying on the grass. Every year, from late October to late November, the Taurid meteor shower occurs, it was explained later.
A bigger “swarm” occurs with extremely bright fireballs every 10 years. The last was in 2005.
When one visits Manggapuri, one finds God in the magical beauty of nature.
And Flores believes that people go to Manggapuri for a reason. It is not just by accident.
Those interested may reach Manggapuri Villas through Cynthia Flores’ Facebook account. She accepts guests by referrals, who must make reservations. She only rents out her place one group at a time so they can fully relax.
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