Holy Week is a big deal in the Philippines. Like in most Catholic countries, the devout majority take over and as a form of penance, the whole country practically shuts down. Businesses temporarily stop operations or have later opening and earlier closing times and families go home to their provinces from Maudy Thursday ’til Easter Sunday. Most communities observe Spanish-influenced Catholic rituals such as processions, with many having been syncretised with pre-Hispanic beliefs, like the pabasa.

For families who don’t want to brave the traffic of the major highways, a staycation is a great option, with most hotels offering Lenten Staycation deals, one of them being Vivere Hotel in Filinvest, Alabang. With its spacious suites, affordable rates, and perfect location – suited in drowsy Alabang near the South Super Highway – families can check in for a relaxing stay before heading up to Tagaytay for their Visita Iglesia or discover the food haunts in BF Homes Parañaque as well as visit the nearby churches and chapels.

 

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This Holy Week, I checked in at one of Viviere Hotel’s gorgeous penthouses, the Grand Premiere, which is a luxurious, 79.58 square meter one-bedroom suite that comes complete with an intimate dining area, cozy living room, immaculate kitchenette, and an elegant marble bathroom.

 

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Upon checking in, I was greeted by Donna, the hotel’s general manager, and promptly shown to my room. The main lobby of the hotel mimicked that of an indoor garden, complete with a little rushing brook, elegant white branches with glass leaf details, and pops of green to brighten up the space. There was a small basket of fruit as a welcome gesture, and after taking a few pictures for posterity, I sat back on the sofa to enjoy a slice of  sweet, ripe mango with my cup of tea, taking in the quiet serenity of what was to be my home for the next few days.

 

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Although the marble bathroom is a lot bigger than what you’d find in most hotels, I found the tub rather small, not being able to stretch my long legs out as far as I wanted. I appreciated the all natural bathroom amenities, and I smelled of sweet, fruity soap after a long soak, finally catching up on the last chapters of Crazy Rich Asians.

 

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I have to give it to Vivere, the wifi is always super fast, that way one can keep the kids entertained on their tablets and smartphones, while mom and dad can catch up on work, and the teenagers can stream videos online without interruption.

Admittedly, I spend most of my week holed up in my big, beautiful, cold as the Antarctic suite, wrapped in the duvet whilst catching up on the latest episodes of Orange is the New Black and House of Cards.

 

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If you want to go around Alabang, say, to grab something to eat at Chili’s, one of the few restaurants which will be open all Holy Week long), ask the nice ladies at the front desk about the complimentary hotel car service that drops off and picks up guests at Alabang Town Center, Festival Supermall, and Madrigal Business Park.

After paying Vivere’s restaurant, The Nest, a visit and having some much needed alone time with a big glass of sangria, I was feeling rather peckish at two o’clock in the morning and headed over to a nearby Army Navy for some warm tortilla soup, chicken quesadillas, and a really cold can of Coke to go, just to come back to my suite and lay my spoils out on the kitchenette, picking at my food and savoring the warm, salty, creamy flavors by the dining table whilst I catch up with friends on Facebook and Twitter who have gone off to one of the Philippines’ magical beaches or mountains.

I feel a tinge of jealousy, but then again I did promise myself I’d keep my Holy Week to myself, and spending it at the Viviere Hotel was just what I needed to just press pause and reflect on all the choices I have made in my life thus far, how it has all brought me to where I am now, and what I am to do with all of these revelations in my future. One starts to become sentimental in the wee hours of the morning, and starts thinking about God, and whether or not to believe in destiny, whether or not you are doing the right thing or if all your mistakes, tumbles, and falls are there to teach you something, and if you have learned the lesson yet.

 

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In the morning, I woke up fairly early and headed off to check out the quaint Fitness Edge Gym which has all your basic cardio equipment (namely a treadmill and stationary bike) as well as a small rack of weights. There is also a spa, Jacuzzi, and sauna for those who want to make the most of their relaxing staycation, with a kiddie playroom on the same floor to entertain the little ones. I passed on the sauna and went for a massage instead.

The Mabuhay (Php 2,500+ for 90 minutes or Php 3,200+ for 120 minutes) massage is Vivere Spa‘s own version of the traditional hilot, an indigenous healing technique that uses coconut oil and banana leaf to increase immunity, blood circulation and quality of sleep.

If you’re feeling stressed, Viel (Php 2,500+ for 90 minutes) is the most highly recommended massage to get rid of tension and fatigue. Inspired from the ancient Hawaiian approach of rejuvenation and tranquility, one is treated to a restorative “mili mili’ massage to bring the health and balance into your life while luxuriating in moments of pure bliss.

After working up an appetite in the gym, I headed up to The Nest for their buffet breakfast. The spread is pretty straightforward, with a few choices of Filipino and continental favorites, your French croissants alongside Filipino pansedal, as well as cereal and granola options for the kids who just want to eat Koko Krunch. I find the best breakfast nook to be a corner outside by the pool, which is nice and sunny without being too hot at around 8 o’clock.

 

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Before checking out, I made sure to pay Vivere’s Lama Pool a visit. I was surprised they actually had a pool, only to discover the reason people think it’s a myth: it’s located across a parking lot. Head on over to the fourth floor, past the paring lot, and head out onto the veranda where the pool is located. This is perfect for doing laps or just cooling off from the scorching sun.

For families who plan on having their staycation in Alabang, here’s a list of churches and chapels around the Muntinlupa area for visita iglesia:

  1. Mary Cause of Our Joy Parish Church: Putatan, Muntinlupa
  2. Mary Mother of God Parish: National Road, Muntinlupa
  3. San Roque Parish: T. Molina corner Mendiola Street, Alabang
  4. Sacred Heart Of Jesus Parish Church: Hillsborough Village, Muntinlupa
  5. Saint Benedict Chapel: Don Manolo Boulevard, Muntinlupa
  6. Saint Jerome Emiliani & Santa Susana Parish: Commerce Avenue, New Alabang Village, Muntinlupa
  7. Saint James the Great Parish: Cuenca corner, Ibaan St, Muntinlupa

 

My stay at the Vivere Hotel in Filinvest Alabang was quiet, meditative, and relaxing – exactly what I wanted it to be. All the staff that attended to me were courteous and accommodating, and the view of Alabang from my suite was amazing. I’m definitely coming back here for another self-imposed sabbatical, and would recommend this home away from home to anyone who asks.

Vivere Hotel is located at 5102 Bridgeway Ave., cor. Asean Drive, Filinvest Corporate City, Alabang, Muntinlupa City, Philippines. For inquiries or to book a reservation, please call +63 771 7777 or email info@viverehotel.com.ph.

 

 

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