I left my soul in pradise
By Grace Glory Go With photos by GGG & Frances Lim Updated May 03, 2009 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines – Ever since Pearl Farm opened in the southern part of the Philippines, with guestrooms, suites and cottages sprawled over the Samal group of islands that stretch out over a land area of 28,000 hectares, I have had an open invitation to visit this beach resort owned by the Floirendo family.
Well, months rolled by and even years! First, I was looking for time because The Philippine STAR was still at its infant stage and there were a hundred million things to do. Then, I was hoping to have interesting company join me to fully enjoy this rumored lovely resort. Finally, after nearly fifteen years, the young managing director of Fuego Hotels, Alfredo Roca, was able to entice me to make time to visit Pearl Farm.
Frances Lim, my favorite travel mate (because, aside from being a truly nice person, she also doesn’t snore…haha!), and I boarded PAL business class for Davao. It was the very first time for both of us to fly to Mindanao. We were surprisingly met by the personal speedboat of the even younger GM Karl Frederick Sims. Though Karl has a Chinese sounding surname, he is very much European, a mixture of German, Spanish, British?
Instead of the normal 45-minute boat transfer from the Pearl Farm Beach Resort’s Davao Marina to Samal Island, we were there with our hair and our skirts flying in a most enjoyable windy 15-20mins ride on the GM’s speedboat and welcomed personally by Karl. Not only was Karl there to welcome us, he had late lunch with us (very Spanish) and every meal thereafter in our two-day and two-night stay at Pearl Farm. (Of course, I’m never up for breakfast…hehe!)
We were given “le-grande tour” right after a leisurely buffet lunch, which gave us a chance to inhale the fresh air and exercise away some of the calories. Both Frances and I were surprised that Pearl Farm was much larger than we thought! Although we were partly driven around, we also had a chance to walk the grounds, which, aside from the famous Parola Wharf and Bar, consist of the Maranao swimming pool and restaurant, the Ylang Ylang soothing lounge, the salt water pond and the waterfalls near the Ylang Ylang Spa.
Aside from the numerous Samal houses standing on stilts alongside the waters of the white sand beach, there are two large hilltop buildings with a conference room and game room in between, and of course, it was occupied by a convention group! We also walked by the Mandaya House with its own pool and jacuzzi, and we were told that aqua sports, beach volleyball, jogging trails, tennis and basketball courts are all available depending on the guests preference.
Lucky for us, we were upgraded from the Samal suites, which were five-star in itself, to one of the seven exclusive villas of the resort nestled in the secluded island of Malipano located only a few hundred meters from the Samal Island. Frances and I were indeed fortunate to enjoy the private villa of Margie Moran-Floirendo, our former Miss Philippines who won as Miss Universe.
We were told that each of the villas belonged to one of the Floirendo children and each was decorated according to each of the children’s taste. We can both attest to the fact that Margie has six-star taste to our delight! We both felt totally spoiled as we luxuriated in this private villa and unadulterated island, with a view facing the Pacific Ocean that was both soothing and colourful to the canvass of our minds.
Although there are no restuarants on Malipano island, you can order room service, which we ended up doing on the afternoon of our departure for Davao City to spend a night at Marco Polo Davao owned by our family friends, Sonny and Bols Dominquez. Pearl Farm’s F&B manager, Marcel Tambis personally brought our orders on the speedboat inspite of a brief downpour due to a passing thunderstorm, and he also took special care to prepare all my meals due to my sensitivity to shellfish throughout my stay there.
But, of course, the sun shore most of the time we were there, and the Malipano island also has its own white sand beach. I thoroughly enjoyed soaking myself in its clean clear water while Frances tried to catch some sun on the diving deck.
One of the joys of sleeping in these villas at Pearl Farm is hearing the surf washing up and down the beach beneath your bedroom floor, lulling you to a sweet night’s sleep. Karl often teases me by text that I must return to pick up my soul because, only after two days in Pearl Farm’s Malipano Island, I can’t help but feel that I had left my soul right there in paradise.