So much has happened in a span of two days. Two weekends may have already passed yet the memories of a short getaway is still fresh in my mind. ZAMBAWOOD is a hidden paradise. And I felt truly blessed and fortunate to have been invited to stay in such a beautiful luxury beach resort.
I was taken aback when I found out the price for one night's stay at Zambawood. But when I learned more about it, I immediately felt what a remarkable place it was. It's definitely worth every penny!
That weekend, my friends and I had the opportunity to meet a very inspiring woman, Mrs. Rachel Harrison --- the owner and architect behind Zambawood. She used to be a flight attendant at Cathay Pacific, which used to be a dream job of mine. So when she started sharing her travels around the world, I grew more fond of her. And since her husband's an international executive, they would often move and live from one country to another. So her story of relocating with 3 kids in tow sounded really stressful. But she made it look really easy.
|[L-R: Paula, Me, Mrs. Rachel and Claire =) ]|
ZAMBAWOOD: A HIDDEN PARADISE!
Their modern-industrial designed beach house turned resort is furnished with a lot of interesting pieces --- mostly acquired from different places that they've been to while traveling around the world. So when you step into the house, you'll immediately see character. There were mostly furnishings that had a fusion of Asian & Mediterranean pieces, smartly combined with several wood and cement elements.
I was completely drawn with the wood pieces all over the place, as most of it were made using upcycled wood from old houses, and from fallen and/or old trees (i.e. big center piece table by the living room, long dining tables near the pool, wooden plank flooring around the infinity pool, cabinets and tables inside the guest rooms). Everything was just exquisite, earthy and very homey, which gave Zambawood quite the appeal.
THE HARRISONS' VISION
Mrs. Rachel is a bubbly, intellectual and practical person. I never really knew how tough she was until she shared to us her experience in raising Julyan, her 21-year old son. Julyan has Autism.
|Julyan with Kuya Dante. :)|
I wouldn't know the first thing about caring for a child who has special needs. But I could somehow relate to her since I've lived most of life with my deaf nephew (who's 25 now), and a godchild who has Asperger. I feel her emotions when she talked about experiencing the behaviors that came with caring for Julyan throughout the years, especially when he'd throw tantrums and break things. She researched on possibly everything that could help Julyan.
She also admitted to crying almost every time regardless of where she was, especially when things would get too difficult for her to handle. But to her, it wasn't a sign of weakness. Crying made her tougher, and I did see a strong woman in her. It was her love and commitment to Julyan and her family, which lead her into building Zambawood, which was created and designed for Julyan.
Mrs. Rachel is also a very meticulous and interactive person. And she's always excited to try new things, especially for the betterment of her family. So when the idea of building Zambawood for Julyan came into mind, she couldn't pass up the chance to bring it to life. She and her husband's determination to provide a happier and easier life for Julyan pushed them to build their very own sanctuary in San Narciso, Zambales, her hometown. But that's not all. She believes in helping out her fellows, so she made sure to employ only the locals in her province.
FARMING: A CALMING ACTIVITY
Julyan needed to follow a regular routine. So farming was eventually introduced to him, which became his constant activity in the resort. The Harrisons' were both happy and relieved now that their son finally found something that he enjoyed and loved to do. And from there, Zambawood garnered more purpose and need now that Julyan found a place where he could heal and feel at ease.
We had an opportunity to meet Julyan on our first day in Zambawood. But it was only on our last day that we got to interact with him while he was at the farm. The handsome boy who loves to surf by the swells of Zambales, also finds peace in organic farming. He knows how to plant vegetables, water the soil, and even harvest the produce. We actually got to eat and sample some of the vegetables that they grew for our first lunch at the resort. So if you're familiar with all the veggies that are included in a Pinakbet dish, then they definitely have those in the farm (which was just a short walk outside the resort). By the way, they're also growing organic chicken in the farm, and will soon be turning the pig pen into a Vermicomposting site.
THE DREAM EXPANSION
Mrs. Rachel also shared to us her future plans of offering the resort to the public, especially for families who may also have kids with special needs. She plans to reach out to them, and offer Zambawood as a relaxing venue where they can all enjoy the amenities and activities --- much like a camp. As a parent, she too gets tired. So she thought about providing a calming space for this specific market --- a place that she's always looked for for Julyan, but never got to find.
Since she goes back to Singapore (where her whole family currently resides in), she only manages to come back to the Philippines a few times in a month. And given the cost that also comes with maintaining the house, she eventually decided to open up the resort to the public. Zambawood just opened during the last quarter of 2013.
A BEAUTIFUL INSPIRATION
I've only met a few people in my life who I've come to draw inspiration and strength from. And during my stay in Zambawood did I have the opportunity to meet such an inspiring woman --- a superwoman even. Yes, I was completely smitten with the house, and the life that she and her husband built for their son, Julyan. But it was mostly their love, commitment and vision of creating a happier life for Julyan that truly won me over. It was such a great honor to have met Mrs. Rachel because to her, all things are achievable if you just put your mind to it.
|[L-R: Lunch with Faye, Davis, Jotan, Aileen, Jherson, Me, Leon, Claire, Paula, and Mrs. Rachel =) ]|
PART II. of our epic Zambawood trip is up next! Do stay tuned.
Explore & Be Free,
Pay ZAMBAWOOD a visit by checking out their Facebook page, Website and Instagram page!
Note: This is a sponsored stay with ZAMBAWOOD. (Budget Biyahera) I do not represent the thoughts, intentions, plans or strategies of the establishment or its owners. All views and opinions shared on this website are solely my own.