FootZone’s moldy soup and tea spa

I’ve had a hankering for a massage for a really long time now.

Finally, I got both the time and money to pay for a nice, long massage. My Dad – a massage connoisseur (haha!) – recommended FootZone along Annapolis in Green Hills.

I ended up having the best massage I’ve ever had so far, plus it’s super affordable. (P500 for a Filipina masseuse, P600 for a mainland Chinese masseuse, and P700 for their massage master.)

Here’s a short log of what the FootZone experience entails.

3.45 p.m. I get dropped off across the street, and spot FootZone. The place is nestled in a dark concrete building and looks like it is owned by Chinese because of the characters on the signage.

3.46 p.m. I push the glass doors and am greeted by staff standing at a very large reception area, complete with couches and a coffee table nearby. The place looks like it used to be a hotel lobby or an authentic Chinese restaurant. I run up to the counter and say, “Um… massage?” And I get led to a darkened row of compartments separated by swinging doors and curved glass panels. Each cubicle has 2 stuffed reclining chairs, a television set, and some ottomans. There are also massage rooms around this area.

3.47 p.m. I settle into a brown stuffed reclining chair and a girl turns the TV on for me. It’s showing an HBO Original comedy series called “Head Case.”

3.48 p.m. A girl comes in and gives me a small cup of hot tea and a small bowl of sotanghon soup. This means, “Welcome” in China. She then gives me a pair of pajama shorts and asks me if I want a robe. I say okay. She comes back with an open robe the exact color of the shorts. I strip down to my underwear and wear the pajamas then wait.

3.49 p.m. My masseuse Michelle comes in with a foot spa machine wrapped in plastic and filled with beer-colored liquid. It is hot, and I dip my feet in while she plugs the machine to an outlet behind me. Dad calls this the “nilalaga ang paa” stage. She wraps a towel over my body like a blanket, and leaves me while I wait for the film “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” to start.

3.50 p.m. Michelle comes back and says she’ll massage my head. She gets behind my chair and starts pressing and sliding her thumbs all over my forehead, skull, neck, earlobes and upper back. My feet are now stewing in the foot spa machine.

4.05 p.m.The head massage ends and Michelle takes out my feet from the beer broth and wraps them in fluffy white towels. Like snow shoes! And puts my feet up on the ottoman. Throughout the massage, my masseuse enters and exits this way and you never hear her.

4.07 p.m. Michelle comes back and starts massaging my arms and shoulder caps. She has pretty strong fingers and rocks her body back and forth while kneading my appendages. I felt like a tough blob of dough that she wants to knead into a croissant. She asks me if the pressure is alright. It’s painful, but I like it.

4.15 p.m. She leaves and comes back with a tub of petroleum jelly. She starts working on my calves, knees, and feet. Again, it’s like her fingers are carving into my skin. It’s wonderful when you’re stressed. You can ask her to be gentle, by the way. And she’s conscious about blocking my view of the TV. I’m at the part where Jason Segel arrives at the Hawaiian hotel and realizes his ex is there. Michelle cracks my foot knuckles.

4.30 p.m. Michelle leaves and comes back with some hot towels. She wraps my feet and calves in hot towels then starts massaging my thighs. It’s awesome. Then she exits quietly as I watch Russell Brand (Aldous Snow) talk about his sobriety.

4.35 p.m. Michelle comes back and unwraps the towels from my feet and sort of rubs the hot towels all over my feet and calves. Then she takes out these foot massage sticks (like hammers with rubber ends) and drums them all over the soles of my feet a la “Raise the Red Lantern.” As I hear the tap-tapping sound, I think, “This is what Gong Li and the concubines fought over.”

4.40 p.m. Michelle asks me to lie face down on the recliner, which she pushed down to look like a bed. She asks me, “First time mo Ma’am?” I say a sleepy yes before I close my eyes and she gets on top of the recliner like a SpiderWoman and kneads my neck, back, and butt like bread. I almost cry from sarap.

4.45 p.m. She is using her knees now to push against my back and glutes. I wonder at this point if she’ll stand on top of me and dance. I listen to Mila Kunis get into a fight with her ex-boyfriend at the island party.

5.00 p.m. Michelle starts stretching me like spaghetti. As in, pulling at my feet and pulling it up away from my body and stuff like that. The entire bit is a Shiatsu massage/ passive wrestling match on my end.

5:01 p.m. The back massage ends and she asks me to sit on the ottoman. Then she starts kneading my neck and lower back then stretching my arms with her knee against my back. This is what suppleness feels like.

5:10 p.m. In a few minutes, my 1 hour and 20 minute massage is over, and Michelle says, “Thank you Ma’am” then gives me a small slip with her name on it and a space where I can write down my feedback. I give her a P100 tip and she exits like a ninja. I taste the soup, now cold, just for kicks. The fried egg bits floating at the top tastes a bit moldy. I don’t know.

5:12 p.m. After I dress up and fixed my hair and face, I go to the counter and there are still people coming in. I have no idea how many customers they have at any given time, but I imagine they’ve been serving a lot of moldy soup to droves of satisfied customers.

5:13 p.m. I walk out of there and I know I will come back. I mean, it’s sulit! P500 for a small meal, free cable TV, and a ninja masseuse? I might make this a once-a-month habit.

Yeah, that’s what it’s all about. Actress Gong Li, a new bride at the household, gets a foot massage as a welcome treat in the film “Raise the Red Lantern.”
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