Rest and relaxation while overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
INTERVIEW NICKKY FAUSTINE P. DE GUZMAN | PHOTOGRAPHY JONATHAN BALDONADO
Nestled in Balesin island in Quezon province — which is only 25 minutes away from Metro Manila by plane — is Aegle Wellness Center, a sanctuary for people seeking healthier and less stressed versions of themselves.
Named after Aegle, the Greek goddess of radiant good health, the center beside Mykonos Village provides wellness packages fit for the goddess in you. Aegle offers rest-and-relaxation programs of varying lengths, ranging from a single day to a week.
“We are not looking for illnesses here,” said Dr. Luis C. Valencia, Jr., one of Aegle’s medical associates, as he reads my diagnostic test result. Anyone who avails of the health package has to fast for 10 hours prior to a blood test that assesses one’s hormone profile, blood chemistry, and complete blood count, among other things.
According to Mr. Valencia, the point isn’t to look for illnesses but to identify risk factors that may be exacerbating an existing condition. “If you are diabetic, for instance, the risk factor is how you eat,” he said, adding that a modified diet is part of the program.
Within the confines of Aegle is Ambrosia restaurant, named after the food of the gods that, in Greek mythology, grants immortality. Ambrosia overlooks the Pacific Ocean and shares the same white-blue theme as with the rest of Mykonos Village. The restaurant serves food and drinks that defy the stereotype of healthy but bland fare. Someone predisposed to diabetes might partake of the “Well-Balanced” menu. Full of colors and crunch, the low-calorie feast includes a salad in vinaigrette with watermelon and cheese, fish on a bed of mashed potato with chimichurri paste, and a drink of green vegetables with hints of apple and cucumber.
BARING YOUR SECRETS
The rejuvenating ambiance and victuals come at the price of honesty. Aegle requires its visitors to bare all their secrets in a six-page questionnaire about their health goals, food consumption on a daily and weekly basis, and family medical history.
Within the first hour of arrival, blood and urine samples are collected; results are read by the doctor before the day ends. In the interim, the total-wellness itinerary includes a 45-minute hyperbaric-oxygen therapy (HBOT) session inside a pressurized glass chamber that may pose problems for the claustrophobic (try passing the time by either sleeping or watching a film on the built-in TV).
Intended to repair cells, HBOT works by allowing you to breathe in more oxygen due to the increased pressure. This speeds up the healing of wounds and the regeneration of nerves, addressing issues related to diabetes, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. While there are no apparent and immediate changes once you get out of the chamber, the attending medical expert said the difference is within: it is intercellular.
While “chill” is the best word to describe the HBOT experience, the next choices are the total opposite. Any wellness package includes insertion, which just means “ouch.” Options include intravenous vitamin therapy (IV) and colon hydrotherapy. The former, popular among those who desire fairer skin, is the infusion of vitamins in the body, including Vitamin C and glutathione, the side effect of which is whiter skin. The latter, meanwhile, requires a tube to be inserted in your anus. The feeling of a foreign object going inside your body is, according to the therapist, akin to being constipated. “You feel like you want to poop,” she said, smiling. The goal is to cleanse the colon by flushing the large intestine with warm, filtered water. (The experience is worth it, I was told.)
Aegle also offers thalassotherapy. From the Greek word thalassa or sea, it is the use of seawater for cosmetic and health treatments. Aegle’s thalassotherapy pools are filled with water from the Pacific Ocean, which surrounds Balesin island. The pools differ in purpose: there are pools for healing, relaxing, detoxifying, balancing, soothing, and energizing. Greek philosopher Plato once said that the “sea cures all ailments of man.” Seawater is believed to treat skin diseases like eczema, dermatitis, and illnesses like asthma, osteoporosis, and depression.
Prior to dipping into one of the thalassa pools, one must take a steam bath and a 30-minute sauna. Enjoy the experience while it lasts, because a dip in the thalassa pool lasts 20 minutes only. “We don’t want our patients turning into prunes,” said Mr. Valencia, laughing. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the whole experience is complemented by the chirping of the birds and the crashing of waves.
Wellness, after all, begins and ends in experience, said Mr. Valencia. Just like in dining, the road to health should not be mechanical, but enjoyable and memorable. We experience through the senses, he added. “We have just one body, it is irreplaceable. Having a healthier lifestyle is a necessity because we cannot alter our environment but we can improve our condition. Find the time because it is hard when you get sick,” he said. For someone who has been-there-done-that, Mr. Valencia said he knows what it feels to be sick. Five years ago, he was at his biggest at 200 pounds and he had severe osteoarthritis. Now at 60 and 40 pounds lighter, he finds the time for rest and relaxation.
He urges people to spend time with nature, to exercise and meditate.
“One of the most important aspects of preventive and integrative medicine is empowering individuals in being responsible for their health. The approach here is quite simple. We address the three main components: nutrition, physical activity, and supplementation,” he said.
Aegle’s packages integrate all of the treatments mentioned here. More are added depending on the length of the availed program.
Standard rate: Php25,000++
The City Club and Balesin Island Club Members’ rate: Php18,750++
Standard rate: Php120,000++
The City Club and Balesin Island Club Members’ rate: Php90,000++
Standard rate: Php100,000++ (weekdays)/Php150,000++ vat (weekends)
The City Club and Balesin Island Club Members’ rate: Php75,000++ (weekdays)/Php112,500++ (weekends)
Standard rate: Php 250,000++
The City Club and Balesin Island Club Members’ rate: Php187,500++
Visit aeglewellnesscenter.com for more information.