What is Balay Hilom Spa about?
A massage that heals from inside and out sounds like a total urban legend – but it exists! In the form of Balay Hilom Spa. Healing your body can be just one massage session away.
Hilom or hilot literally means ‘to heal’. It is often used to refer to the traditional type of massage that incorporates massage techniques from all over Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
Balay Hilom Spa, a spa in Quezon City, aims to break up the crystallized blood inside the blood vessels that has formed due to stress and neglect for the body.
Where is Balay Hilom located?
The Balay Hilom Spa is located in the FBR Arcade in Katipunan. It’s literally across the Ateneo de Manila University – which was probably why I felt so nostalgic visiting the spa as I was reminded of my college days.
This spa in Katipunan is perfectly accessible for students wanting to take a break from their academics and enjoy some me time. For parents visiting their children, they can have some form of relaxation while waiting for their kids. The location is ideal even for the residents living in the nearby villages in Katipunan (La Vista or LGV) or students living in the student dorms.
How can I get there?
The first thing to do is to get to the Katipunan Station by riding an LRT to it. From the Katipunan Station, go out and walk from 10 to 15 minutes until you reach the FBR Arcade Building, which is the building right in front of the Ateneo de Manila University. Or, you can walk to the 7/11 Store and have a tricycle bring you to the said Building.
Go inside the building and at the far end of the first floor, you will see the Balay Hilom Spa.
How much does it cost?
The rates for their services are very reasonable and affordable, even for students. Their signature Balay Hilom Spa starts at 450 pesos for 70 minutes. Summarized in the table below are the services they offer and corresponding prices.
|A. SINAUNANG GINHAWA (Traditional Massages)|
|1. Hilot Balay Hilom||450 php/70 mins|
|2. Kisig Amuma||450 php/70 mins|
|3. Diing Pang-alay||500 php/70 mins|
|B. KATUTUBONG LUNAS (Indigenous Remedies)|
|1. Hilot Suob||650 php/100 mins|
|2. Hilot Bentosa||650 php/100 mins|
|3. Hilot Bato||650 php/100 mins|
|4. Dagdagay||550 php/50 mins|
SINAUNANG GINHAWA (Traditional Massages)
Hilot Balay Hilom (450 php/70 mins)
Balay Hilom Spa’s signature deep tissue massage that aims to increase blood circulation, improve breathing and free the body from lamig (coldness). This helps you to feel more relaxed and revitalized after the massage session.
Kisig Amuma (450 php/70 mins)
This is the Visayan understanding of Swedish massage techniques that aim to relax the body and free the mind by using biomagnetic warmth and the combination of upstream and downstream strokes.
Diing Pang-alay (450 php/70 mins)
Balay Hilom Spa’s adaptation of Southern Filipino massages techniques that incorporate reflexology and acupressure. The main point of this massage service is that it targets the reflex points and takes the principles of the Tausug ‘fingernail’ dance.
KATUTUBONG LUNAS (Indigenous Remedies)
Hilot Suob (650 php/100 mins)
This is the recommended procedure before a hilot session. Let your body drift away in a steam therapy of selected herbs and medicinal leaves as the curative components of the bath flush away the unnecessary toxins in your body.
Hilot Bentosa (650 php/100 mins)
Balay Hilom Spa’s understanding of the traditional Chinese ‘fire cups’ that aim to balance the coolness and hotness of the body. Relax and let all the tension in your body drift away from you as the strategic placement of banana leaves and bentosa cups soothe your body.
Hilot Bato (650 php/100 mins)
Heated stones will be placed on the lamig spots of your body. In which, the heat will penetrate the muscles and provide a proper relaxation to tensed and unrelieved body parts.
Dagdagay (650 php/100 mins)
Rattan sticks are used to stimulate the nerve endings of the sole up until the legs in order to treat muscle cramps and rheumatism. Of course, this will be done after soaking the feet in medicinal herbs.
You may visit the Balay Hilom Spa’s Official Facebook Page for a comprehensive advertisement of the services they offer.
What’s the ambiance like?
You wouldn’t believe that you were just in the middle of Katipunan before entering the spa! The contrast inside the spa and outside it is incredibly breathtaking. It feels like you aren’t in the center of Metro Manila.
The spa is decorated to resemble a traditional bathhouse. Ifugao statues are found all over the interior. I guess, as a reference to the Ifugaoan massage techniques being adapted to their services.
The overall ambience of the spa is very relaxing and pleasing to the eyes. Even just upon entering, your eyes will already be relaxed by the pleasing textures and colors that litter the whole spa.
Varnished wood and quilted bamboo is a common motif of the spa – which puts more emphasis to the relaxed ambience of the whole experience. Warm and earthy colors help you relax a bit better as you enjoy the spa’s atmosphere while having a massage, assuming that you haven’t closed your eyes yet!
In conclusion, the ambience definitely matches the amount of rejuvenation you will receive from your spa session.
Karla’s Hilot Bato at Balay Hilom Spa Experience
Tina and I were anticipating a hectic week. We were going to have a culinary tour with DOT IV as well as covering the Bantayog Festival back to back. So, we decided that it would be best for us to have some relaxation time in preparation for the busy week ahead of us.
We were served tea before the massage session even started. I love the tea, it was house blend. Tasted like a hybrid of pandan and earl grey tea. Then, our feet were soaked in warm water for a few minutes.
After the soaking, we were lead to the massage room where we were asked to undress and cover ourselves with towels. The rooms were separated by white curtains that you can part if you want to see the friends that you came to the spa with.
I knew that their best selling service is the Hilot Balay Hilom but I opted for the Hilot Bato service instead, just because I was curious about it. And I didn’t regret my decision as I actually enjoyed every bit of the massage!
Let me tell you why.
The Hilot Proper
The massage session began with hilot. So yes, it was included in the package. It’s not just about the Hilot Bato service. I was still able to experience the standard deep-tissue massage, in which, I felt that the masseuse was constantly applying upwards pressure all over my back. The masseuse that was working on me was very thoughtful, as she did not fail to constantly ask me if the pressure was fine.
I was just lying there, while she continuously massaged my back with upwards pressure. I absolutely loved that they focused on my back as it’s one of my biggest problem areas.
After massaging my back for about 15-20 minutes, the fun part began! I was then covered in layers of towels. You see, when they said Hilot Bato, I expected it to be rocks, as the name suggests. But this was different. Ateng Masahista told me that the towels are so that I don’t burn from the high temperature of the rocks.
I couldn’t see as I was lying on my stomach and buried in towels. But I felt her putting the stones after the layers of towels. There were a lot of stones that she laid down my hands, my back and on the back of my legs. Like a lot of them.
I was there, laying down my stomach, buried in towels, with hot stones all over my body. I was enjoying it ! Then, she removed the rocks from one leg and she started to massage me with hot oil and used the rock to create circular motions against my muscles. She was very considerate as she kept asking me if the heat was fine. I told her that it was. Take note, this was in the middle of summer, but I couldn’t care, anyways. I loved the heat.
It was like that for a while – hot oil, circular motions from the heated rock and then deep pressure from the masseuse’s hands. Again and again.
She did the same thing with my other leg, and then moved up to my hands until she ended up with my back. When she was finished with one leg, she left one stone on the sole of my foot. I couldn’t tell if it was one of the stones was before, but it was hot. The same treatment was done with my hands, as she left one on each palm of my hands. It was amazing as I could feel the heat relieving my strained muscles and improving my blood circulation.
The heated stones stayed on my palms and my soles the whole time she worked on my back. After massaging my back with hot oil and doing circular motions with the stones, she covered me again with stones. She lined my back and my arms with stones – this time, without towels. At first, the stones felt super hot against my skin but I eventually got accustomed to it as she made adjustments to the temperature of the stones.
She asked me if I was feeling comfortable, or if any of the stones were too hot. And when I did tell her my requests, she took the stone and cooled it before putting it back on top of my body.
I laid there with the stones on top of my body for a few minutes until she covered my back with towels. This was so that the heat would be trapped against my body and the towel.
After my whole back part, I turned over, now lying on my back, so that she could move on the front part of my body. The same treatment was done. She started with the towels, then the hot oil massage with heated stones, then she put the stones on my body and covered me with towels.
When my whole body was done, she moved on to my head and I absolutely loved it. It was a feeling that I could almost compare to being in Nirvana. The head massage seriously relaxed my mind.
Once she was done with my head, it was times up for me. I honestly didn’t feel like I laid there for 70 minutes – it felt like forever! And I would want to relive it again by going back and trying other services.
Tina’s Hilot Bentosa (650 php/100 mins)
I haven’t tried Hilot Bentosa (Ventosa/Cupping) ever before. I’ve seen how it’s done on video and the sheer vision of the ‘aftermath’ honestly scared me. Imagine having big red circular spots around your back for a few days. Weird, right?
So immediately after arriving, I asked Balay Hilom’s manager Anna if that’s going to happen to me. Surprisingly, she said no. The main difference between their Hilot Bentosa with traditional cupping sessions is that they don’t put the heated cups in one spot all throughout. Instead of concentrating all the heat on just a couple of spots on the back (usually 6-10), they move the cups around from time to time. Therefore distributing the heat and making sure the whole of the back is taken cared of. Thus, the absence or lack of red spots after their Hilot Bentosa sessions. Which was super perfect because we were going to some swimming spots on our back-to-back trips after. And I frankly didn’t want to have any ‘weird’ spots on my body. 🙂 As for how true their claim was, well I’m about to find out.
My Hilot Bentosa lasted about 100 minutes. But by the end of it, I honestly wanted more. As soon as I was ready for my massage, my therapist immediately asked what level of pressure I prefer. To which I said medium or moderate. And so she proceeded to prep my back with ample massage oil. I think at this point, it’s important to put a disclaimer on the name of Hilot Bentosa. While Bentosa is primarily meant for the back, Balay Hilom Spa’s treatment concentrates on the back primarily but also includes a whole body massage.
Hilot Bentosa Coverage
Generally, there are five steps in my Hilot Bentosa:
- Thorough massage of the back, shoulders, nape, back of legs, back of arms
- Cupping session or putting of bentosa/ventosa cups on the back (8-10 points for 10 minutes). Before moving the cups rigidly across the back and sides
- Finishing massage of the back
- Thorough massage of the shoulders, arms, hands, thighs, legs, and feet
- Gentle massage of the neck, nape, head, and face
Thoughts on Balay Hilom Spa’s Hilot Bentosa
If I was asked to describe the Hilot Bentosa by Balay Hilom, I’d probably say “it’s life-changing”. If only I knew how effective cupping is to take away cold spots (lamig) on my back, I would have done this a million times before. With my work demanding sitting down in front of my laptop at least 6 hours per day, I’m bound for chronic backpain and cold spots. The spa session was really relaxing and rejuvenating. Plus points for my therapist who was very skilled in knowing what spots to concentrate on. Definitely not my last Hilot Bentosa at Balay Hilom Spa! Highly recommended!
As for the red spots post hilot? I asked my mom and sister to check my back as soon as I got home. And to my delightful surprise, there weren’t any. So they really did live up to their promise!
What is hilot?
As mentioned earlier, Hilot Balay Hilom is Balay Hilom Spa’s own take on the Swedish massage principles. But there are differences between Balay Hilom Spa’s hilot to the Swedish massage techniques, contrary to popular belief.
One common belief is that hilot is literally the Filipino version of Swedish massage, but actually, it is not, nor is it the Filipino term for massage. In the case of massage, the Filipino term for that is ‘masahe’.
Hilot versus Swedish Massage
To understand the difference between hilot and Swedish massage, one must first understand that the Swedish massage makes use of five manipulative strokes, namely: 1. Effleurage, 2. Petrisage, 3. Friction, 4. Tapotement; and, 5. Vibration.
For the case of hilot, it only makes use of three of these manipulative strokes: 1. Effleurage, 2. Petrisage; and, 3. Friction.
The table below, taken from Hilot is Not Swedish Massage, shows the difference between the massage strokes used by hilot and Swedish traditional massage.
|HILOT MASSAGE STROKES||COMPARISON|
In conclusion, Swedish massage makes use of five strokes, while hilot massage only makes use of variations of three of these strokes.
Aside from the differences in the massage strokes being used, hilot and Swedish massage have very difference histories.
Hilot, is traditional healing practice that stems from the various islands that make up the Philippines. In the far-end provinces, where urbanization hasn’t yet taken over, hilot is often referred to as a therapeutic custom.
Friends in the province have told me that when you say ‘hilot’, almost immediately, they would think of a manghihilot (someone who does the practice), where their parents take them to exorcise the negative energy in their body that is suspected to have been causing them sickness. And these manghihilot’s would make use of massage techniques to exorcise the negative energy.
Hilot: Balancing the soul, mind, and body
In more modern life, hilot is referred to the massage technique that arose from this superstitious belief. It is known that hilot not only relaxes the muscles but also has therapeutic and healing benefits. Aside from that, it is also believed that hilot balances the soul, mind and the body.
In a traditional hilot massage, the manghihilot identifies the illness and/or areas of imbalance in the body from just a simple palm reading, hot and cold analysis, phrenology and urine/stool analysis. Then, the manghihilot performs a deep massage with the aim to balance the energy of the body, in order to get rid of the illnesses.
Oftentimes, warm banana leaf strips laced with coconut oil are used to run over the body. This is because banana leaves contain both medicinal and herbal elements that can be used as a natural ionizer.
These practices can still be found in the modern hilot massage spas of today.
What are the benefits of hot stone massage?
The water-heated stones allow the muscles to loosen up so that the massage therapists can reach the deep layers of the muscles. Hot stones and a deep pressure massage form a synergistic effect of effective healing experience.
Additionally, the high temperature from the stones expands the blood vessels, allowing for a better blood circulation within the body. The sedative effect from the hot stones relieves chronic pain, reduces stress and promotes a deep relaxation.
The following are therapeutic benefits of hot stone massage: It provides relief from pain associated with arthritis, rheumatism and other chronic conditions, it decreases chronic stress and muscle tension, and it increases the flexibility in joints.
Hot stone massage also promote better sleeping, so expect to sleep better the night after your Hilot Bato session, just like I did. It is also proven by studies that hot stone massage reduces stress and anxiety.
How to book a massage session?
There are two options if you want to avail for a massage session. You can just walk right in the spa and ask for a massage session, as long as you enter before their last call and it is not a Friday, Saturday or a Sunday. Balay Hilom Spa is usually full by the weekends, so a reservation is necessary. Or you can call beforehand and schedule for an appointment.
Working hours: 1PM – 11PM daily
Last call: 10:30 PM
In conclusion, I highly recommend the Balay Hilom Spa. Everything about my experience was extremely enjoyable, and I would definitely recommend you to experience the same. The price, affordability, ambience and ambiance – everything about this spa was definitely on point and the massage itself was really effective. I definitely felt rejuvenated – almost like a different person – once I left the spa.
The only disadvantage is that, if your luck has it, and a big group of noisy people come in, you would be able to hear them since the whole spa is quite small and that can ruin your experience. However, that shouldn’t be the problem anymore as people should learn the proper etiquette when coming to these kinds of establishments.
The only tip that I can give you is that you can come in at hours where others are unlikely to visit, so that you can have the whole spa to yourself. For example, coming in at after school in the weekends would have more people than to come in at 1PM on a weekday.
I will definitely go back next time and try the other services they offer.
Here are the ways that you can contact Balay Hilom Spa:
Contact number: 0927 535 8380
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/balayhilomspa/
Address: FBR Arcade Building, Katipunan Avenue (C-5), Loyola Heights, Quezon City (across Ateneo de Manila University)
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