Blanca de China: a Spa like no other
by George M. Hizon
Today, we live in a world far so different from the one we knew more than 30 years ago. Our cities are overcrowded and noisy while life has become fast and a bit confusing for the ordinary urban dweller. Every now and then, we have to relax our minds and bodies to avoid what we may call “lifestyle diseases” brought about by stress. “Stress kills and because of it, there is now a prevalence of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases like hypertension” says a lady doctor friend of ours, who prefers not to be identified. But let us not fret because everything is not lost.
The Emergence of Spas
Relaxation counters stress and for this reason, there is now the emergence of spas all over Metro Manila. Sometimes, we can find as much as three different spas in one corner building competing for customers who are very eager to relax. I am one such customer and I have probably been to more than a dozen spas in Metro Manila in the last 30 years or so. But there is one spa I find very unique and worth mentioning. It is named Blanca de China Lifestyle Spa.
Blanc de Chine
Blanca de China is derived from the French words Blanc de Chine, literally meaning “white from China”, a kind of white porcelain from Dehua, China which was produced during the 1300’s (Ming Dynasty) and became popular in Europe during the early 1800’s. “Blanc de Chine, is also a collection of my cousin Teresa “Terry” Montinola from her childhood days” says Joanne Ong Magboo, one of the spa’s three owners. The spa is owned by Magboo, Montinola and Michael Lirio. “These porcelain figurines are strewn all over our spa because they evoke calm. When combined with the spa’s all-white interior, it produces a very quiet and relaxing atmosphere. We probably have this obsession or you may call it fixation with the color white because it brings in a light and very clean appearance” adds Magboo. And like white, the color symbolizes their motivation, their love of family, which she describes as humble and lofty all at once. By the way, the floors of Blanca de China Lifestyle Spa are also colored white!
Penchant for Cleanliness
The cousins/owners were not just content with the outward cleanliness of the place and so, they surveyed top skin centers and found out that a few of them use only UV light or none at all for sterilizing nail and skin care tools. Finding this totally unacceptable in the professional context, they decided to purchase “The Star”, a 1.5 dry heater sterilizer capable of inactivating all bacteria and other microorganisms at 150 degrees Centigrade in 1 hour. So now, in that place, nobody need be afraid of catching Aids, Hepatitis B and heaven forbid warts from other clients.
But it is not only the cleanliness that I find unique in Blanca de China. One day I asked my daughter Isabella, who, visited the place twice, “what makes the spa unique and different from all the other spas”? She answered me “Pa, it has a classic design that makes the place look very expensive”. And, she adds “because of this design, it is a probably a spa like no other”. Later on, I asked Joanne Ong Magboo what kind of style was used in there and she told me that it’s called Chinoiserie (shen-wäz-re), a European artistic interpretation of the oriental style. I said great, but the truth is I am not very knowledgeable with any particular type of artistic design. In fact, this is the first time I have encountered such a unique word. There is one question however that keeps popping into my mind and so, I again asked Joanne Ong Magboo “are prices really that expensive”? “No, they are very reasonable” says Magboo. The price of the Signature 1-hour massage is 250 pesos. Now, that sounds very reasonable for a place that looks very expensive!
A Cut above the Rest
The Philippine market now is flooded with spas that charge between 200 to 250 pesos per hour. By American, European and some Asian standards, that price is cheap. But, maybe we should ask, “what makes Blanca de China different from the rest”? Aside from its cleanliness, it is the style of the place that makes it so different. Most of the spas found in the Philippines have exterior and interior Asian designs like Thai, Japanese, Chinese, etc. The design of Blanca de China is I would say European, but, with an Asian touch. It is unique, one of a kind and, in the words of my daughter, a spa like no other! Great! Now, I just can’t wait to get my next body massage!