I have childhood memories of my Nueva Ecija vacations where my Ma would bring me to a hilot whenever I had fever. The hilot was an old woman who lived in a dark bamboo hut (it was lit only by oil lamps or gaseras). The townsfolk bring the sick to her for alternative healing through a coconut oil-based massage. She can supposedly feel through your pain. Her touch can detect where your sickness is rooted – naipit na ugat, lamig, pilay, kabag, etc. And she's supposed to make you well through her “magical” touch.
I don't remember enjoying these hilot trips – they were painful and pungent experiences for a child. But I do recall getting well after each visit.
Today's spas are offering hilot services and the trend got me curious – could hilot “heal” me now as it did then? Is it the best massage option for my tired, sore, aching muscles?
J and I decided to go to The Spa Trinoma one Saturday evening (February 2009) for their Traditional Hilot Massage (Php 1,200 each for non-members). Our appointment was set for 7:30pm. We arrived at The Spa 7:00pm – just enough time to shower & steam.
I appreciated the set-up – the massage bed was covered with a Filipino batik blanket (instead of the usual white cotton cover); I was wrapped in starched white cotton blankets (instead of the usual towels); and there were candles in the corner wooden table. The details successfully set the mood for my traditional massage. And the actual session did not disappoint either.
J and I always want our massage hard. And our masseuses delivered. Mine was Christy – hope I remembered her name right. She took me back in time with her hilot moves. The difference is now, I actually enjoyed it – bring on the pain! My favorite part was the really hot but soothing wax paper placed on my back and stomach. I'm assuming it was heated with tea candles.
Our massage dates (often on-a-budget) has taken us from neighborhood spas (Lifestyle, Indulgence, Feet for Us, Tonton, City Lifestyles, etc) to mall spas (The Spa, Dermalogica, Body Tune, Ayuthaia, Nail Spa, etc), to authentic Thai massage experieces in Bangkok (foot only and full body), to our treasured foot reflexology massages in Kuala Lumpur (it was the perfect ending to our day-long walks with the salon perfectly located on the ground floor of our hotel), and our favorite Baguio spa experieces – we like how Baguio therapists seem to all be consistently into it (we get hard when we ask for "hard").
The Spa's Traditional Hilot Massage is curretly number one on our list (it's on equal footing as the Baguio massages). Beyond relaxing, it was therapeutic. I don't know if it's just my childhood memory of the hilot but I felt “healed” after the session. And if what you think impacts on how you feel then I got my money's worth.
We're definitely going back for more heal-lot experiece.
What we've tried on our past The Spa dates: Peppermint Foot Scrub (Too cold for my already literally cold feet – I prefer a warm foot massage.); Aromascalp & Shoulder Massage (Love this! Wish the scalp massage could go on forever!); Swedish Massage (OK); Deep Tissue Massage (OK); Twin Massage (I was disappointed! My expectations were too high.); Volcanic Rock Massage (You'll feel the benefits the next day!); Traditional Hilot (Love it!).
What we love:
- facilities (we've only been to the Libis & Trinoma branches)
- service (very professional, friendly, attentive staff)
- their ginger tea is my favorite
What we not-so-love:
- The Spa closes at 9pm. That's sad for weary bodies coming from work.