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‘I work for healing and inner joy’
Helyn Escaño runs a holistic healing center in Labrador, Pangasinan
[By Lita C. Lee]

Here is a self-styled holistic hotel in Labrador, Pangasinan located on top of a hill, overlooking the sea, fanned by breezes that give it a natural cool – a very good place to calm the spirit, to think, to take a break and reflect while sipping pandan tea.

It is called Villa Jireh Japeth Holistic Hotel. “It is a wellspring of wellness,” says Helyn Escaño, who owns and runs the place, “where you can go for physical, mental and spiritual recharging.”

Helyn experienced her own personal healing at Jireh. “When I first saw this place, something happened that encouraged my husband and I to make a 360-degree change in our life,” she recalls.

“I was 30 years old at the time. We were childless. When we happened to visit this place in Pangasinan, we felt a sense of attachment here and decided to build a prayer house on top of a hill.

“I felt God’s presence in this place. After we settled here, we were gifted with a child – something we’ve been waiting for the past 11 years.

“It was for her that we named our place Villa Jireh. A double blessing came a year later when I became pregnant again with our second child, Japheth.”

A medical technologist by training, Helyn and her husband ran a medical laboratory supply company for 10 years and also had dealership with Philcraft selling quality cookware.

“As incentives for our sales performance, Philcraft gave us opportunities to travel abroad on various pilgrimages, which gave us spiritual renewal and direction in life,” says Helyn.

“We realized that life has to be given meaning. You could have fame and money but it would be empty if it is not grounded in spirituality.”

And so, Helyn recalls, in Labrador they found a beckoning place to build the prayer house intended for spiritual nurturing, especially those in crisis.

“Some woderful things have reportedly taken place in our prayer house, which has touched many lives. Couples on the verge of separation got reconciled. We have had women, for instance, who wanted to have abortions but, through the intervention of prayers, changed their minds. We’ve also had people who never had children but, after a few visits to our place, were able to conceive.

“It’s all about faith,” Helyn stresses. “Some of those who came here wrote their prayers and offered them in a petitiion box. They found their prayers granted.

“The prayer house is interdenominational. We don’t cater to any religion. This is an all-embracing unity prayer house. Our foundation is Catholic but we have transcended that because the real meaning of Catholicism is universal religion.”

Helyn says the place got started on a modest scale. In the beginning, it did not even have rooms for those who wanted to stay overnight.

“The visitors prayed under the moonlight. Later, we were encouraged to build a simple dormitory.

“God moved mightily in that direction. In 1996, British engineers arrived to build Sual Power Plant nearby. They chose to stay in our place.”

“They gave us advance money so we can add more rooms, improve the amenities and build appropriate facilities. About 43 British families lived with us for four years.”
In 2000, construction of the Sual Power plant was completed. Helyn transformed the place for training, tourism and trade. “It was a time when one of the trends worldwide was to open destinations offering visitors a holistic experience: wholeness of man in mind, spirit and body.

“Destinations that offered health, beauty and spiritual regeneration are becoming more popular and cater to a specific market that currently enjoying good patronage.

“Ours is kind of destination. It is were one would unwind for a few days, just relax and experience physical as well as spiritual rejuvenation to become beautiful in the holistic sense – inside out.”

It is where healthy lifestyle is a way of life. Helyn, through her Hotel Jireh, is helping to promote the Philippines as a health destination. She strongly believes that Asia will be the health destination of choice for the next 10 years.

Thus, Helyn is spearheading a comprehensive program in Labrador, which teaches ecology management, waste management, and coordinated with livelihood.

The program is being supported by the Department of Health, local government units, TESDA, some fishermen’s group and cooperating NGOs.

It also includes an eco-tourism educational component for the conservation of the Hundred Islands tourist area, the most popular travel destination in Pangasinan.

In early March this year, Villa Jireh was the site of Pangasinan Holistic Festival, where experts came from as far away as Manila to take part in free seminars on such topics as eco-waste management and livelihood projects such as eco-friendly soap-making. There was also a unique culinary Olympics using herbs on local cuisine.

“Holistic tourism is the wave of the future,” says Helyn. “The baby boomers want to mature and age in a healthy manner. Modernization has to be friendly with the ecology.

“We want to be part of this universal effort to make this world a healthier, happier place to live in,” Helyn adds.

“We should go back to nature; it is in nature that we thrive. We should be healthy and happy as well. And we should all work for healing, for inner joy.”

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