Early this year, I discovered a unique spa experience in an ancient district of Manila. On a stretch of road called Beata in Pandacan is a nunnery known as the Beaterio. Heralding from the Spanish times, the Beaterio has housed nuns who ministered to the poor and sick. In the 21st century, a few nuns are still around and they continue to fulfill their mission through a community service offering acupuncture and hilot, a traditional Filipino therapeutic massage.
Every Tuesday and Saturday mornings they open their gates to whoever would wish to seek relief from various ailments, from simple stress to more serious conditions. Volunteer community health workers who received their training from the Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care under the Department of Health provide the treatment.
There is no professional fee but donations to cover their daily expenses are encouraged. I strongly suggest you give at least P200 for a massage and more for acupuncture.
I have gone to Saint Clare Patronage of the Sick and Poor, which is the order of the nuns serving there, several times for hilot. Modern spa services cannot really compare to this experience. The therapists work on pressure points just like in acupuncture. They don’t just stroke, the go deep to the source of the stress and kneads it away. Their hands seem to possess electricity that gives me goosebumps every now and during a massage.
But since Saint Clare is not a modern spa, its amenities are simple but its service is unique. The memory of my first visit is still vivid in my mind. The place is guarded by tall stone walls. I entered through a small gate and found myself transported back in time. Ancient trees towered over gardens and a mansion that must have been built during Spanish times.
The therapists and a sister were sharing lunch. It was clear to me that I did not chance upon a business but a mission. Volunteers keep it going and they have formed a strong bond over the years.
I suggest you pay Saint Clare a visit, either for hilot or acupuncture. Your patronage will go a long way toward helping the order continue to provide succor to the sick and poor. And what you get is a feeling of well being that goes beyond the physical.
Saint Clare Patronage for the Sick & Poor
Franciscan Missionaries of Mary
# 2499 Beata Street, Pandacan, Manila
Telephone: +632 563 3070
Acupuncture & Therapeutic Massage – Tuesdays & Saturdays 7:30am-11:30am
For home service, call their number for an appointment.
When I first saw Ate Inday last year, she was sickly and can hardly stand. After a year of regular acupuncture, she is back on her feet again. When asked if she credited her getting well to the traditional treatment, she said she made sure to also take her doctor’s prescribe medicine regularly. ‘I think it was the combination of modern and traditional,’ she answered.
Have you experienced acupuncture or hilot already? What was it like? Share in the comments below!