Philippine Style

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I’ve been reading bits and pieces of the coffeetable book Philippine Style: Design & Architecture by Luca Tettoni and Elizabeth V. Reyes over several months now, and it’s proven to be the sort of book you can get lost in for hours, with a wealth of detail to explore.

Published by Anvil, Philippine Style is a showcase of Philippine architecture and design, tracing its history from the pre-colonial bahay kubo (nipa hut) to bahay na bato, down to the contemporary Filipino home, in full color and exquisite detail.

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Putting the Aaahhh in Spa

I love getting spa treatments — that little window of time for relaxing and revitalizing is a godsend, whether it’s a heavenly massage,  beautifying facial, a glam hair treatment, or a foot spa for your aching feet.

One of my recent memorable spa experiences is the Lulur Ken Dedes massage at Win’s Spa in Batam, Indonesia (we took a ferry from Singapore) — around 175,000 Rupiah (more or less SGD 30 or USD $20), which is a two-hour package inclusive of a traditional message, sauna, body scrub, and herbal soak. Apparently, “Ken Dedes” is a royal beauty treatment named after Princess Ken Dedes of the Singosari Empire of 18th century East Jaya, and is a complete package of beauty care, especially for brides (they didn’t tell us that at the spa, or maybe they tried to but they weren’t speaking much English).

I love Javanese massage –it’s based on thumb pressure: pushing and circling the muscles while the palm strokes  simultaneously, releasing the knots and improving blood circulation. Then the body scrub (“lulur”) — it’s a fragrant paste of sandal wood, turmeric, groundnuts, rice and other scented woods. The golden scrub is rubbed onto the skin for exfoliation and left to dry, then  rubbed off again, leaving the skin rosy and silky smooth. A fragrant herbal bath follows, and they dress you in this luxurious batik gown, and give you a cup of ginger tea while you sit for a certain procedure that can’t be posted here (hahaha — my book club gal pals know, though). It was a great spa experience, and I’d go back to Batam just for this. I wonder what kind of massage therapy schools the therapists attended!

I mention this because of a book I recently discovered, Wellness on the Islands: The Philippine Spa Experience by Elizabeth V. Reyes, photography by Luca Invernizzi Tettoni (also the team behind design coffeetable books such as Filipino style and The Tropical House: Cutting Edge Design), which I reviewed for Zen Health Magazine.

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