Repost from: Philippine Online Chronicles Buhay Pinoy Channel
Tara na sa spa! This is what the Pinoys of today say after a tiring day. The spa masseurs are, in a sense, the modern-day hilot --practitioners of folk medicine, that have existed even before the Spaniards came to the Philippines.
In Pangasinan, the term for soothing massage is kemkem. In Bukidnon, it is known as hagud. In Ilocos, Zambales and Pampanga it is known as ilut or ilot. The hilots use a variety of methodologies involving materials like stones, drinking glass, aromatic herbs and bamboo sticks. Modern spas in the Philippines have included these traditional ways as part of the repertoire/ techniques of massage therapists. In Iloilo, some spas use fish as part of the regimen. The dagdagay, which features two small sticks with which to massage the feet in a scratching and rolling motion from the heels up to the toes to stimulate circulation, is from the Mountain Province. This makes our spas unique and truly Filipino.
Since 2003, the number of spas has grown as much as 74% as indicated by the research of Intelligent Spas in 2007. With the proliferation of spas in the Philippines, the Department of Tourism and the Department of Healthhave promoted wellness and medical tourism to attract tourists. Despite the travel ban advisories of other countries, many tourists still flock to our country, thanks in part to the health and wellness industry that complements our ecotourism and historic-cultural travel sites.
Acknowledged for its beneficial effects, spa massage (and other forms of relaxing manipulations like reflexology and chiropractics) has increased its stock as an authentic treatment for ailments. It is known not only to relieve pain but also to reduce anxiety, temporarily lower blood pressure and heart rate, as well as stimulate the immune system and cure diseases.
The putting up of medical spas, a hybrid of a medical clinic and a day spa, is now being encouraged. More and more entrepreneurs have heeded the call. The number of spas has increased exponentially even in the provinces. This is true especially of areas near tourist spots and travel destinations. The next move is obviously to professionalize the industry. Most of the therapists of legit spas are now either DOH- or TESDA-certified. Although fly-by-night spas are still around, they may be on the decline as repeat business is very important in a service-oriented industry.
Are spas the next lechon manok? Will their popularity wane and will they become saturated in the future? At the moment, I could not see this possibility as demand for spa services continues to rise. Pinoys are becoming more and more beauty- and health- conscious. I suppose spas are here to stay.
The clientele is not confined to the ladies as men nowadays enjoy pampering themselves. Indulgence, after all, does not choose genders. Women, who once upon a time regarded touching by a stranger as taboo, now enjoy the professional strokes of a masseur or a masseuse. Men are no longer contented with massages offered at barber shops. Spas have become synonymous to rejuvenation and relaxation.
Admittedly, I am an “espastic" person. It is a word my editor, Annamanila and I coined to denote a person who is ecstatic at the spa. I love massages.
For a massage at home, I usually call Kuya Bernie, a self-taught masseur who counts as his clients prominent politicians and others in the Who’s who of Dagupan. I came to know him way back 1998 through my bestfriend and kumpare Jack Coson.
For the spa experience, I usually go to the Footprints Footspa and Massage on the 2nd Floor of the Orient Pacific Center, Perez Boulevard, Dagupan City (beside Hall of Fame Bar and Restaurant where I hang out during nightgimmicks). I’m a suki of the spa as I avail of its services once or twice a week. My favorite services are the invigorating two-hour combination massage (Swiss and Thai) and the cleansing and rejuvenating body scrub. For special bonding spa moments with my wife, we go to Terra (2nd Floor of East Gate Plaza, A.B Fernandez East, Dagupan City). It has special amenities like a posh couple room with jacuzzi. What makes me secure and at home in both Footprints and Terra is the cleanliness of the place, superb customer service, amiable TESDA-trained therapists and reasonable price. Both spas are managed by Tina Reyes and are owned by Derrick Dulay. Tina, who is a TESDA-certified trainer, does community service by conducting free livelihood seminars on wellness and massage therapy. The therapists of Footprints and Terra also conduct free back massage demos at various events and gatherings in Dagupan as part of their marketing strategy. As a secretary of the Rotary Club of Dagupan East, I often invite the therapists to our meetings to massage our members who come early.
I’m such a spa addict that I’ve tried all 11 spas in Dagupan. I also patronize the blind masseurs whenever I go to Nepo Mall. I enjoy going to the spa not because I’m a very stressed person but because I enjoy pampering myself. Who wouldn’t be ecstatic when you smell the aroma of scents and oils? Each fragrant whiff reverberates in the lungs and slowly creeps to the head as if massaged by invisible hands. The minty and mentholated liquid slowly envelopes the whole body and rocks it to a deep and sweet slumber. The muscle pain and stiffness magically disappear as though each stroke is a mother’s assuring touch. Every ooh and aah during a massage session is melodic music. The calming effect and soothing sensation of each massage is nirvana!
There used to be a time when “Relax, see a movie” was a famous line. Now it’s "relax, tara na sa spa!" So what are you waiting for? Tara na. Me? I’m espastic!
Photo 1: by Simon Francis Blaise Vistro
Photo 2: courtesy of Terra