Creative Retreat

All Alone in Shangri-La Mactan

My first attempt at painting a sunset

My first attempt at painting a sunset

One of the perks of my job is I get to travel from time to time to attend meetings on behalf of the company. I take advantage of these trips for my ME TIME cum creative retreats. I typically catch up on my doodling, painting or journaling.

Last January, I had the opportunity to go to Shangri-La Mactan Resort in Cebu, Philippines. It has been awhile since we’ve held a meeting in the Philippines and it was the first time it was scheduled in Cebu. I arrived Monday afternoon for whole day meetings from Tuesday to Thursday and I went home Friday morning.

Since there was no art supplies store for me to go to, I explored the place in the afternoons / early evenings with my camera. It was HUGE place and there was a lot to do. However, for the first time since I’ve been travelling, it was the first time I got homesick. The place was simply too wonderful and I could just imagine our family having lot of fun here. For most evenings, I decided to go back to my hotel room for dinner while I read a book, painted or Skyped with the family.

 What I did on my creative retreat:

1. Journaling – I don’t get to journal or do morning pages as much as I used to. For this trip, I was able to make some entries in the morning or in the evenings for my reflections, realizations, prayers, dreams, aspirations and just general conversations with myself.


I would pass by the chapel every morning for a short prayer

2. Reading – I read about Danielle Laporte’s The Desire Map from Martine de Luna when there some discussions on Facebook on our intentions for 2015. I was able to finish the book but I stopped short of completing the worksheets. It would be interesting to name my core desired feelings but in the meantime, I wanted to focus on my 2015 word and my intentions around it. I will definitely work on my core desired feelings perhaps later in the year.

3. Painting  – I was able to make several paintings in the room before going to sleep but on Thursday afternoon, we ended earlier than usual so I had time to get to the beach. I originally intended to wade but decided to paint instead. It was a good decision as it was the first time I painted a scene in front of me. Ever since I started painting as an adult, I’ve always done my painting in a studio, coffeeshop or at home and usually copying from pictures. It was a great experience painting outdoors. Trying to capture a memory with a paintbrush rather than a photograph was to me an intimate and sacred experience – perhaps because there was repeated conscious effort on my part to look at and appreciate God’s beauty in nature.

Painting by the beach

Painting by the beach

4. Taking photos – Inasmuch as I enjoyed painting a scene, I didn’t have a lot of time for that. Whenever presented with the opportunity though, I take a lot of pictures for my collection of inspirations for future paintings and/or for my scrapbook. And no, I don’t do selfies.


5. Playing with new art stuff – I intentionally brought my set of Derwent Metallic watercolor pencils to the trip with the sole purpose of breaking it in. I bought these pencils in Bangkok in 2013. My first venture into my “too nice to use” art stuff was while waiting for my flight in the airport. (See my post on “Too Nice to Use” Art Stuff)

Derwent Metallic Pencils

 How about you? Have you ever been on a creative retreat by yourself?

7 thoughts on “All Alone in Shangri-La Mactan

  1. Hi Dette! I love all the paintings in this post, especially the one you made on the beach. Makes me want to paint again soon. Been so busy with work lately that I haven’t had any time to play with my watercolors…

  2. I wanted to paint when I went to Tagaytay with my family. But, being with three kids, that is improbable because it would be a waste to not explore the place with them. The hotel we went to had a farm, so we had to pet the rabbits and see the other animals. 🙂

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