Life is an endless struggle for something. Many struggle for power, many for beauty. Many strive for economic or business success, many strive for freedom and ideological superiority. Many fight for basic daily existence. Most struggle is against others and the world, yet so many also struggle mightily for something that is seemingly simple — inner peace.
I’d admit that I’d probably die of boredom if thrown in some lonely island somewhere in the middle of the West Philippine Sea. We’re accustomed to cable television and the movies, skyscraper offices and enormous shopping malls.
But precisely because the world is so loud, and because we need to step back and reassess our bearings, we need peace and quiet from time to time.
This is where Hacienda Isabella comes in and this is where its beauty starts.
Looking for Hacienda Isabella is a struggle in itself. It’s not easy to find exactly where it is found. No, contrary to common misconception, it’s not found in Tagaytay City, although it’s near and easily accessible through Tagaytay City.
A little sleuthing will reveal that Hacienda Isabella is found in Brgy. Carasuchi, Indang, Cavite. Say that again: Carasuchi. It’s difficult to remember, and it helps to think about a flower, incidentally also found in this resort, calachuchi (spoken, no offense meant, like a Japanese). [See map for directions]
It doesn’t help that there are only a few markers, concentrated mostly near the resort/hacienda. This is a place more hidden that other destinations that call themselves “hidden” gardens.
Through the main highway of Tagaytay City from the direction of Sta. Rosa, Laguna, pass through the Taalena Restaurant, Leslie’s, RSM, Cliffhouse and way beyond the main market. Around 10 meters from the Bag of Beans (the original restaurant site) there’s a right turn which bears the marker of Hacienda Isabella. [See map for directions]
A good 30 minutes worth of drive from that intersection definitely reinforces the impression that this secret treasure does not want to be found easily.
After the curves and sharp turns, through a long stretch of straight well-paved road of this part of Indang, Cavite, two huge weather-beaten wooden gates guard the Isabella lodge.
As the gates swing open, one is transported to a world that we hear only in books, in documentaries and in certain corners of the Philippine archipelago. It’s a world fast disappearing in our modern society.
That Hacienda Isabella is a place to commune with nature and to spend meaningful time with companion/s, whether a significant other or friends, is notable from a number of things, or rather from the lack thereof.
There’s no TV, cable or otherwise. The rooms, grouped together in separate villas, are bereft of entertainment and communication devices. There’s no intercom, although the wi-fi connectivity is a welcome feature. The only modern “gadgets” in the room are the aircon unit and the water heater in the bathroom. The closest thing that would come close to entertainment in each room is a pair of interesting books.
Hacienda Isabella serves organic food. Extremely fresh green salads, punctuated with the bright yellow color of jackfruit strips. They’re grown here. Jackfruit trees and other fruits litter the property. After all, “hacienda” figures prominently in the name of this place, and “hacienda” does not exist without trees and the greenery of nature.
The other half of the name, “Isabella”, refers to the daughter of Ms. Kuh Ledesma (thanks for being a gracious host), the owner of this 4-hectare property. We’ve read that she designed this place, from the rooms to the stones. We personally know that she went all over the Philippines to buy antiques and all things really old.
And we’ve personally experienced how these items blend well with Spanish-style architecture prevalent in the Philippines of yore, creating an atmosphere that harks back to a much simpler life.
The wide open lawn, perfect for events like weddings and receptions, is bordered by fruit-bearing trees and various plants.
The wooden beams and trusses of white-walled structures are exposed, part of the charm of this place. Not much plastic here. And, consistent with the hacienda, the simple architecture is revealed in the predominantly straight lines of the structures. The curves are found in the wooden carvings used as highlights of the place.
If one would consider looking for Hacienda Isabella a difficulty, then it’s a journey worth taking. The height of how we enjoy something is roughly equivalent to the level of difficulty we encounter getting there (or achieving that which we desire). The rustic seclusion offered by Hacienda
Luisita Isabella, with the minimal features needed for a comfortable stay, is a step back to rediscover inner peace.