Gracia’s Garden – a haven of peace in the beautiful province of Isabela
What started as a way to soothe her anxiety using her green thumb and her love for plants, Grace Manalo has clearly turned the darkness into something special – a paradise amid the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 for citizens of the city of Santiago, Isabelle.
Gracia’s Garden is a beautiful and cozy place, located in the historic town of Isabela.
They serve the best food, ranging from their surprisingly successful combo dinuguais with bibingkato the other amazing food categories we all know and love – pasta and pizza, sandwiches, chicken wings, all day breakfast and, of course, their Genaro special.
Along with these exquisite cuisines, in addition to your satisfied taste buds, your eyes will also wander through the beautiful landscapes of flowers, plants and even enchanting murals. The ambience of the garden is breathtaking, filled with the allure of the magnificent bougainvillea plant, the star of the show.
Grace has been in love with the plant for three years now, before the pandemic even started. She calls herself a plantita to a variety of its other plants.
The last two years have been very difficult for all of us due to the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 virus. Indeed, Grace Manalo, mother of the famous chef we all know as Gerick Manalo, is proof of that.
Back when there were no signs of hope, at the start of the pandemic when there was still no vaccine, Grace and her husband caught the dreaded disease. This caused her to develop extreme anxiety – being hospitalized, not being able to go out, being forced into self-isolation. She was looking for things that could soothe her emotions.
“nung pandemic, Nagka-COVID kami ng husband kb. Wala pang vaccine midday. Sabi ko, ‘Ganon pala ang magka-COVID,’ kasi-na-to hospitalize din kami. ‘Yun bang anxiety, ‘yun ‘yung malakas pala na kalaban mo sa COVID,” the businesswoman shared.
The restaurant owner has thought for so long about engaging in “plantita life,” wanting to fully put her plants out there for people to see. Little did she know that contracting the virus would be the gateway and chain reaction of blessings that were continually coming, one after another.
“Ayun, may awa ang Diyos, naka-recover kamis. Sabi ng anak ko, ‘Ganon lang pala yung buhay, Mama, ituloy mo na yung gusto mo na ilabas yung mga halaman mo. Kung saan ka masaya, gawin mo na”” she detailed.
Indeed, such challenges will make us realize many things, maybe that’s what we really should do is live a life no doubt and cling to the things that bring us happiness. And Grace really did – she listened to her heart – now Gracia’s garden turned out to be an absolute dream.
What made the idea work was not just his passion for plants and his love for food, but in fact his desire to help people who have been through the same unfortunate things.
“Kung anong tuwa ko na makita yung mga halaman ko, ‘yun din ang gusto ko maramdaman nila. Kasi yun ang naging therapy ko eh… after ko lang magkasakit, kung ano-ano nanaman iniisip ko. Pero dahil sa mga bougainvillea flowers ko, pag nagpupunta ako sa garden, nawawala.”
Suffering from anxiety is definitely serious, especially in these dark times. Grace fully understands this after experiencing it first hand. That’s why her mission has become to help those who feel the same way.
“Naisip ko, ‘Bakit hindi ko ilabas’ to?’ Kasi ganito yung pakiramdam ko. Baka sakaling may kapareho ako ng situation, makatulong ako sa kanila.
Because of this need to comfort those in need, Grace decided to open the garden to the public. With no entrance fee, it allows visitors to savor the beauty of its bougainvillea plants.
The entirety of Gracia’s garden is made possible not just by Grace, but by her entire family.
The heavenly beauty of the garden even features the art of his son, Gabriel. Colorful murals of plants and flowers stretch throughout the resort, bringing the place to life with the accompaniment of fresh bougainvillea.
Her husband, on the other hand, has built a play area for the children. They really wanted the venue to be suitable for all ages. It doesn’t matter if you are old or young, you have come to the right place.
Initially, Grace simply planned to have a small cafe or restaurant to complement the ambiance of the garden, offering food and refreshments to those lost in the beauty of her plants. Eventually, as the area was still very spacious, they decided to create an event venue that could accommodate more customers – an outdoor dinner party.
Due to the huge swarm of people visiting the restaurant, soon after they had to ask customers to make reservations. And that’s where Renz, one of Grace’s sons, comes in. He became responsible for reservations.
They certainly created something special that others could also see – a place that brings not only food, art and fun, but also comfort.
People describe Gracia’s Garden as a space where their worries and dark sense of anxiety somehow cease to exist – a haven in the beautiful city of Isabela.
As the branches of the trees reach for the sky and the wide spectrum of colors of the flowers bloom, it permanently heals the broken and gives a home to the lost.
The story behind the name of the garden is actually quite awesome and endearing, in a way that we think can paint a smile on your face.
“Gracia’s” from Gracia’s Garden is a play on words. Her name Grace can be associated with the Spanish word for “Thank you”, which is “gracias”, and another from our own language, “grasya” which translates to “the grace of God”.
Therefore, the name of the place is a way for her to thank the Lord for another life. A fresh start after contracting COVID-19, which surprisingly led to the establishment of the restaurant.
If you want to thank the Lord yourself or seek his refuge, one of the purest places in Gracia’s garden is their cave. Here you can pray, eat and connect with him.
“Our Lady of Lourdes has given our family so many blessings and miracles,” Grace shared mentioning that they had posted the image of Our Lady of Lourdes in the grotto where you can get a free rosary, blessed by a priest.
If you are looking for comfort or just want to relax, you can make reservations through their Facebook page, Grace’s garden.
This article can also remind you to choose yourself, live your life, share your blessings, and most importantly, find your peace by seeking His grace.
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