Tibetan Buddhists believe in Shambhala, a mythical kingdom that means “place of peace, tranquility, and happiness” in Sanskrit. This empire, believed to be hidden among the peaks of the Himalayas, is said to be inhabited by people who have been enlightened.
While the kingdom is currently the stuff of legends, a similar place exists near the foothills of Tagaytay.
According to founder Riza Matibag Muyot, Shambala in Silang, Cavite is a space where “art, nature, and spirituality converge.”
It is known as the living museum of arts, culture, and heritage. Here, guests can find respite from the hustle and bustle of the metro with nooks for reflection, inspiration, learning, and healing.
Opening its doors
Muyot is a staunch supporter of indigenous culture and visits provinces and groups that keep it alive, like Abra and the T’boli people in Mindanao. Her passion for ethnic culture is evident in Shambala the moment guests enter the premises.
Marking the entrance is an arch carved with faces by Ifugao artists. There are also stoneworks around the property built by artisans from the Cordillera and Bulacan.
Dotting the terraced slopes is a series of indigenous huts transported from the Cordillera region’s mountains. They were disassembled and painstakingly rebuilt at Shambala to offer comfort to guests.
From the huts, they can take in the view of lush tropical vegetation, trees, bamboo, bushes, ferns, vines, and flowers. Muyot personally selected the greenery that grows abundantly in the gardens.
Shambala opened in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the timing is significant. Muyot says, “we feel people need a place like this. We would like to give them the space for healing, meditation, learning, and discovering themselves.”
Tribute to indigenous arts
Guests can also find inspiration at the Tawid Gallery. It began as a greenhouse but was turned into a satellite exhibit for the ManilART art fair in 2020. The exhibit was called Pagtawid (Crossing) and showcased its collection of indigenous Philippine art. Following its success, the gallery was born.
When asked why the concept of crossing over plays a big role in Shambala, Muyot explains, “I’m spiritual and I like to show the connectivity between heaven and Earth, and the divine and human.”
The pieces at the gallery are packed with meaning. An old boat symbolizes the journey (or pagtawid) to heaven. There is a set of 15 antique floaters used in fisheries that reflect the number of petals in a lotus flower, which embodies enlightenment.
Some Cordilleran pieces include the collection of bulol (demigods carved in wood), padao (territorial markers), kinabigat (kingposts used by affluent Ifugao) and hagabi (benches that symbolize wealth).
The hagabi is so highly-prized that a model from the late 19th or early 20th century sold for P21 million ($422,340) at a 2020 auction at Leon Gallery.
There is a sizable collection of Ifugao art but Tawid Gallery also houses creations from all over the Philippines. Pieces from Agi Pagkatipunan from Rizal, Kublai Millan from Cotabato, Claude Tayag from Pampanga, Carlito Ortega from Laguna, and more are proudly on display.
After a day of exploring Shambala’s two-hectare property, it is a good idea to stop by Mana Kitchen. The restaurant serves heirloom dishes from Cavite, such as Bulalong Tagaytay (beef stew from Tagaytay) and Olio Imus Longganisa Pasta (pork sausage from Imus). The restaurant uses the vegetables and herbs grown in the property.
Singkaban Bar is named after the bamboo arches from Bulacan used in entryways and parades. Muyot invited the artists who did the arches at the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games opening ceremony in 2019 to create pieces for the bar.
Shambala is a place to discover the rich culture of the Philippines. It is also a beautiful space to commune with nature, friends, family, and oneself.
“Creativity and artistry are inspired by nature. If you are interested in arts and culture, this is the place,” ends Muyot.
Destinations in Cavite are ready for local guests! Customers are required to wear a face mask and shield, practice social distancing, and regularly wash hands before dining in. These places have sanitary and contact tracing procedures such as registration and temperature check at the reception and using alcohol to sanitize hands before entering the premises. To know more about Cavite, visit cavite.gov.ph/home/.
To check out up-to-date information regarding local destinations that are open and the safety protocols and requirements needed for each location, you may visit philippines.travel/safetrip or download the Travel Philippines app at app.philippines.travel or the Google Playstore.
Shambala is located at Shambala Road, Purok 5 Pulong Bunga Road, Silang, Cavite.
Its opening hours are 9AM to 8PM from Tuesdays to Sundays.
For more information, visit the Facebook page at facebook.com/ShambalainSilang
- Opening hours: 9AM to 8PM
- Facebook: facebook.com/ShambalainSilang
- Contact number: +63927 594 0337 (Globe) and +63968 400 6949 (Smart)