Wednesday, November 14, 2012

THE 'Nothing Much' at Rafael’s Farm

Many friends have shared good stories about this place. Many a Tacloban visitor has bragged about their wonderful experiences. Yet, they were not ‘push' enough for me to include Rafael’s Farm in my itineraries It was probably due to the fact that there is really nothing much to see or do there, except what they told me about the good food a-la first class hotel or restaurant. Most of these friends would tell me the landscaping is good, food is fine-dining caliber but expensive (of course), ample parking space, nice little lake or waterscape whatever. Yun lang?

Judging from stories, pictures and videos, I silently said, I have been to definitely better landscaped places with definitely more high-end type of food (and yes of course, expensive too), so why bother! Nothing seemed to even connect anything at Rafael’s Farm to the land, the region, its culture, people or traditions. Thus I was thinking, as far as I was concerned, there was NOTHING MUCH to go aligaga about seeing this place.

Only for me to discover that, this NOTHINGness is the most wonderful thing about Rafael’s Farm. The “nothing much” part, I mean, is something I totally enjoyed! Here’s my story…

The friend and I were already ‘overstaying’ at Yolanda’s. We were so engrossed talking about many things, updating each other about careers, friends, families, etc., that we did not notice there seemed to have been twice a change in clientele at all tables except ours. So we moved on lest Mana Yolanda drive us out with her “luwag” hehe. Nope, she won’t really do that, she is too “buotan” to do that! But at 10:09AM, where in Tacloban would we hang out to continue the “iristorya”? And the friend said, “you better see Alfredo’s Farm now”, so we zoomed off to it.

On arrival, as we walked the front area on to the lagoon, I did appreciate the meticulous work done to beautify the place. And I said “what is this a farm of? a coconut farm? a flower farm? a fern farm? a bee farm? a butterfly farm? what”? Friend and I laughed at the realization that there seems to be no obvious abundance of anything that might let anyone call this place a farm of! We did agree to ask the crews later, though I offered to instead call it Rafael’s Garden, since, indeed, it is such a big wide and beautifully manicured garden, with nice walking paths, green grass, serene resting places, well-trimmed shrubberies, trees, flowers, ferns, orchids… ah yes, a beautiful garden I conceded!

Next we stepped unto the main house, which is the restaurant, and as expected, it is well appointed, cozy and airy. I smiled and said “how can many of my friends be wrong, they are my friends in the first place”! For indeed, Rafael’s has a lovely ambiance. Not ulra mega fantabulous, but I can dare say, loveliest dining area in the region, better than Sabin or the Surf Camp. But there was a little problem… we were not hungry. Now what hehe! Cheerful young waitress (practicum student, I guess) pointed us to the sandwiches and desserts, and even fished another card that had their coffee and drinks list. Alert!

My face went sour when I saw that there were only Pepsi, Mirinda, Mountain Dew, 7-Up in their “From the Chiller” list. But the girl was quick to add that they do have Coke! Wow, she read my mind hehe! Thus, at 11:58AM, we were having Coke, Sprite, Sweet Banana Rolls (a.k.a. turon!) and Buko Gelatin. Yumminess enough, especially that we had it by the side coffee-tables good for a cozy tete-a-tete overlooking the lagoon and other parts of the expansive
garden. Hey, I must say the ‘turon’ is one delectable version. It’s been sprinkled (I think) with nuts and cinnamon, there is lanka (I think), and crisscrossed with some syrup. Marasa!

After the solids, our canned drinks in hand, we decided to walk around the place, just for me to see it’s entirety – and to find a place to smoke hehe. Well uh, you can actually smoke at that main restaurant where we were, but I always know when not to light one. Most patrons at other tables were women, children and the few adult males were not (yet?) puffing hehe.

There is a new "function building" (building with various sizes of function rooms), two levels, and we think it was designed and executed well. An employee passed by where we were near the building so we asked if it was already operational and he said yes, telling us that there waws just some wedding reception the day before and they’re preparing for two other parties for the afternoon! Hey, it even has its own concrete front yard with a water fountain. I guess this means there should be no need for long walk if guests wear gowns and expensive shoes! And it looked like the area front and beyond of this ‘function building’ is still being developed. Coolness!

The tree house looked good and inviting that surely kids and kids at heart would itch to run to. WE did not – because we were busier talking. I liked it because it is made of native (and organic, meaning biodegradable materials). Unlike the one at Pasonanca Park where there is concrete and ceramic tiles. Aw c’mon, this tree house even became a short topic and we discussed it as if we were the owners hehe! Like, I said “they could have made it into a 2-tiered house to optimize use of space” and the friend looked at it a while then said “no, it would have been not good on aesthetics, its being a tree-house would have been less obvious”! And so on and on, we debated as if we could do something! But I did concede to the friend’s views. He is not a well-respected architect for nothing y’know!

I heard cascading water, so I gravitated towards that area. Hmm, a fake waterfalls amidst lush greens! Nice enough attempt to re-create a waterfall effect – amidst hectares and hectares of plains as far as you can see. The kids will really think it is for real, but we adults know how to find the source of that cascading water, no? But the soothing calming effect is real. And it is flanked by two gazebo-like huts where like the others and the tree-house, guests can opt to stay for a fantastic lunch or dinner setting! One hut is made of native materials complete with a mini bridge as if you were crossing a brook. Aliw!

The other gazebo has no tables and chairs. There is instead a garden swing that can easily fit two adults or 3 children! And this is probably the only structure (save for the new building) that does not sport the ‘native roofing material’ look. It’s made of that translucent plastic most people call fiber glass or fiber board whatever. The friend agreed with my view that they should have not made that roof level-flat. It looks dirty since you could see the fallen leaves up there from the nearby trees, plus water marks telling anyone who cares that rain water puddles up there,  not really going anywhere until the sun dries it up

But we stayed in this gazebo for the rest of our visit at Rafael’s Farm, and this is it that made me say “I like this place”!

Just the swing gently lulling me or the friend. Just the two of us talking amidst the sound of cascading water. Just the view of “the back” of the farm that looked like an untended rice field soon to become part of Rafael’s. No fantastic adornments, no elegant or hi-tech developments. Just nothing but the cool breeze, patches of the sun’s rays playing with shadows with the leaves, some trees and some birds. The trees and the birds? Oh, they bring forth my Balimbing Story!

But let's do that next! Yeah yeah, coming in a while!

ISSN 2515103.25-1414

1 comment :

  1. Now I have a target wedding venue! Yeheyyy! Thanx po for this!