I felt that I had just died and gone to heaven – a heaven for health buffs and nature lovers like me, that is.
This was my typical day in Paruparong Bukid (Mountain Butterfly) Nature Conservation Center in Babatngon, Leyte – in the morning, I watched the sun rise from the balcony of a nipa tree house. Then I went down one of the pathways lined with herbs and surrounded by nipa and coconut palms to walk meditatively around the labyrinth while also taking in the mountains in the distance. I walked through the Zen garden of trees and shrubs then entered the butterfly sanctuary to watch butterflies wake up with the sun, lazily opening their wings at first then flying with more vigor.
A butterfly sipping its first nectar of the day
I was happily surprised to find this butterfly on my knee.
For breakfast I drank a healthy yet delicious and filling smoothie made of fruits and leafy greens freshly picked from Paruparong Bukid’s garden. For lunch I had the cleanest, freshest and most delicious tilapia organically and painstakingly grown in the farm’s fish pond.
During the afternoon’s high tide I rode the kayak from the creek in Paruparong Bukid, passing through waterways barely two meters wide as mangroves and nipa palms abound on either side. My guide Kuya Pilo steered the kayak into the open Lukay River and headed to where its green meets with the blue of the sea. He and I stopped at one island where he expertly climbed the coconut tree, chopped the fruit and offered me its sweet and refreshing waters.
The night at Paruparong Bukid was far from dull, too. The skies there are one of the clearest and starriest I have ever seen, occasionally streaked with shooting stars. The fireflies flitting from one leaf to another in the mango and mahogany trees would give the falling stars a run for their money, though.
All these can be experienced at a cost that need not break the bank. Entrance fee at Paruparong Bukid is only Php 20, while meals at their restaurant are Php 150 and up. Kayaking for two hours is Php 300. And an overnight stay at the nipa tree house with a bed and fan only costs Php 500 for two people.
The owner of Paruparong Bukid, Helly Yap-Asoy, is a nurse who has now gone down the natural healing route. She believes in the benefits of raw food and other alternative healing modalities. She conducts brief talks and seminars on natural healing. She also loves outdoor activities like camping and mountain climbing, which might explain the kayaking option at Paruparong Bukid.
Her philosophy is indeed reflected in the surroundings of Paruparong Bukid. What also made the place the nature and wellness haven it is now is Helly’s love for nature and her staunch belief in healing the natural way.
How to get to Paruparong Bukid:
From Tacloban Central Terminal, ride a van to Babatngon. Ask the driver to drop you off at Paruparong Bukid. It is best to call or text for reservations first at 09209296880 or 09297780053.
More about Paruparong Bukid:
Apart from the day tour and overnight stay at Paruparong Bukid, one-week detox packages inclusive of accommodations, healthy and organic meals, kayaking, and spa services, are also offered. Find out more here.
Disclosure: Helly Yap-Asoy is my friend. But friend or not, I honestly give my two thumbs up at what she has done at Paruparong Bukid and her advocacy for wellness.