Bentosa's Bliss At Sonya's Garden

Easter weekend has come and gone. I've had a pretty active  few days to celebrate the Bunny Day, as well as to play host to my aunt Joy and 2 teen cousins who are here for our grandmother's 85th birthday. The Itinerary looked like this:
  • 03.25-28 - China
  • 03.31-04.03 - Baguio
  • 04.04 - Anilao (to dive)
  • 04.04-05 - Tagaytay
Although the Baguio leg was catch-up-on-snooze time, the latter two left me exhausted and stress-ridden, as well as a slew of random unfolding of events which shall stay in oblivion.
view from the Tagaytay pad
So on the way to Tagaytay from the Anilao dive trip, I treated my little cousins to a little R&R at Sonya's Garden's Spa.
Famous for their Salad & Pasta Buffet and abundance of horticulture fit for a forest, Sonya's Garden has become somewhat of a not so "secret garden" to tourists and Manila peeps alike. Every time I head up to Tagaytay, I make a point to go there if only to remind myself that there are people truly devoted to the idea of natural beauty. 
 I love walking through its surroundings and getting engulfed with flowers, water features, and greenery. For a brief moment, you feel like you are truly one with nature.
Makes me wish I had a greenthumb that extends from growing herbs out of Egglings
Another reason why so many people frequent Sonya's Garden is for its spa and services which use authentic Filipino techniques, native rituals, and insanely relaxing aromatherapy products. At the end of the green walkway, is a staircase leading down to the Spa.
The lobby is quite small, with a hard to miss shelf filled with little bottles of their delicious smelling body products. I rifle through the Spa Service menu and pick a massage for the 2 girls, a Bentosa Session for me. More on that later.
Each massage room has a very old Filipiniana appeal, with mother of pearl window panels, wooden furniture, and antique decor.
I absolutely love the shower section, which is in the back of the massage room, with a rainshower and a peekaboo window of mesh screen with water running through it, providing natural coverage from outsiders looking in. Sets the serenity inside the room, creating a nice barrier from the outside world.
Below the faceroll, a bowl of Bougainvilla blooms in water provide a thoughtful focal point while having a massage.
White laced pillowcases remind me of my toddler days.
My Bentosa treatment, or cupping, consists of grass being burnt on my back, then getting vacuumed by cups. It is combined with a traditional Philippine Hilot, or therapeutic massage known to rid our bodies of lamig or stress pockets in the body. Sounds like torture? Anything but!
Guitar matches... old school memories
Other cupping therapies include a contraption connected to the cups that suck the air out, literally like a vacuum gun, similar to those weird gadgets on Ghostbusters (you know what I'm talking about. Sonya's version of Bentosa would be a more dramatic type. First little clay pots are filled with Damong Maria (translation: Mary Grass, or Sagebrush), a known herb with a lot of therapeutic benefits for skin issues as well as for detoxification.
The treatment begins with a back hilot massage to warm the points, soften the stiff areas, and prepare my skin for the next step. So my therapist does not use a cupping gun thingie, but puts the little pots of grass on the accupoints of my back. Then she lights up the grass (hehe) with a match, lets it burn for a while, then carefully covers the little pots of grass (hee hee) with glass cups. 

In chemistry, we all know what happens when a fire is confined to an airtight container. The lack of oxygen becomes a vehicle for a vacuum effect to happen, and the fire dies.
What's left after the fire is a lot of sucking for air. In this instance, my skin gets raised up and pores are opened up to release the lamig or stress points. There is no pain, a little pressure, and a lot of soothing warmth. The skin getting red does not mean that I got cooked, but that blood has been circulating in the area. It felt so relaxing, I passed out while she continued to massage my legs. I never fall asleep during a massage session, so that means my masseuse was fantastic.
After some time (I'm not so sure how long because I passed out and she woke me up when the session was done), the skin bump slowly subsides, supposedly indicating that all the gunk and "cold air," or lamig, has been sucked out from your back. What's left are these funny red giant dots on my back, and a reminder not to wet my back for 2 days. ARGH! The only downside to this experience, especially since I had a long day at the gym and had to be resourceful in the shower.
The therapist returns with some Dalandan Basil tea, refreshing and a perfect ending to a completely relaxing experience.
So relaxed, that I was momentarily blinded by the aroma of the soap that I bought some to take home with me. The Lavander Mint Soap and Honey Mint Shampoo smell soooo addicting.
On my way out, I spotted a new area which I haven't chanced upon before. It was a new apothecary store next to the Spa which had rows and rows of jars and bottles and sprays and everything I am a sucker for.
Inside I also met the namesake herself, Sonya, working hard at her passion for natural beauty. My mom and aunt met her earlier when they had their coffee table books signed. Such a gracious lady.
She almost made me buy the entire store, with all natural ingredients and aromatic scents. But my relaxing trance from my Bentosa treatment proved to be too strong, and an effective evader for the shopping urge. I did not succumb.
Although I think I'll come back and snag a couple of these Healing in a Jar pots. You know I am a sucker for perfect copy and packaging.

All in all, my Bentosa experience was worth the drive from Anilao, and worth the funny looks people have been giving me when they catch a glimpse of my dotted back. The tension in my back has been alleviated and feel more ease in shoulder movement. 
Then again, my satisfaction might just be influenced by all the flowers and greens hypnotizing me to relaxation. Bliss, pure bliss.

I'd also like to thank my wonderful therapist who doubled as photog for those times I had cups sucking my back and was unable to take self portraits. Lol

Barangay Buck Estate, Alfonso, Cavite, Philippines
(near the vicinity of Tagaytay City, Philippines)
For reservations: call or text +63-9175329097 or +63-9175335140
Email us at: info@sonyasgarden.com


  1. Hahahha I can just picture you asking her to take pics of your back. The pictures came out well! Your back looks almost dinosaur like with those marks. Does it bruise at all? I need a massage!

  2. I used my D80 with my 50mm macro lens. That can never go wrong. I still have a few red dots. but its soooo relaxing!

  3. I couldn't believe at first that it was your skin forming into small balloon-like shape. Kinda scary that it might not go back to the way it was.

    I would like to try it though since i always get that "lamig" feeling (which really hurts) at the back.

    Complements to your masseuse, nice sharp picturs! Now i have an idea of how these things look like.

  4. sir nd maam,

    where i can buy daT cupping...pls let me know..

  5. Cupping is great feelin'. Have a great day!


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