Crack Me Up: Karada Manila (Japanese Body Therapy)

I miss this place! And no, this is not a paid advertisement. I’ve availed of their services twice and I intend to visit again when I’m in Manila and try their other services.

I first saw Karada in Boracay and got so intrigued, but I didn’t yet visit it and just opted for other massage places there. A few weeks later, my sister recommended this place in Mall of Asia, where they cracked her neck and aligned her body. Wow! I was sold. It was on my to-do list on my next Manila visit.

Photo grabbed from Karada website. Karada SM Mall of Asia branch.

Upon entering, they first let you fill out a form and questionnaire on your physical condition, concerns and reason for the therapy. I didn’t really have any particular body aches and pains, but I put down “headaches” and “digestion” as my main concerns.

I tried the AP (Atlas-Pelvis) Balance for 45 minutes and it was the best! I was assigned a male therapist but it’s okay. He was very professional and would explain each process that he would do, especially when he needed to get into my personal space, like grab my whole body with my arms crossed over my chest to crack my back.

Next, they lead you to changing rooms with provided black tshirt and pants to change into. I’m happy to say that the changing rooms and washroom next to it are very clean, with liquid soap, tissue and other hygiene products available. Clothes and personal items are then placed in a basket which will be placed under your bed.

Once outside, the therapist will go through your concerns and treat you accordingly. Here are the highlights of my first treatment:

  • Aligning my body. I was told that I was misaligned, that I was leaning towards one side of my body. He showed this to me by raising both of my legs up and putting my ankles side by side. It looked like one of my legs is longer than the other, but it’s not; it’s just misaligned. This could be the result of habitually standing on one leg more than the other (sabay hands on hips, taray pose hehe), or crossing legs while sitting (didn’t we learn the “royal” way to sit in “Princess Diaries”?), or sleeping on one side (yes, I’m a side sleeper). The therapist did a series of massages then ta-da! Hindi na ako tabingi hehe.
  • Use of mechanical bed. Results of my APEs (Annual Physical Exams) throughout schooling revealed that I had a mild lumbar scoliosis (doesn’t everyone have some form of scoliosis nowadays?) Yes, bad posture. The therapist didn’t need to see x-rays. He felt the curve of my spine and knew. The mechanical beds are placed in another room. Makes sense because it’s so noisy when operated. It’s a bed divided into several parts that can be elevated or lowered mechanically. He did a series of up and downs with the bed then ta-da! Hindi na ako kuba hehe.
  • Cracking my neck. On my own I’m able to crack my neck. But this brings it to a whole ‘nother level. It’s done so suddenly that you’d just be surprised with the “crack” sound and immediate relief to your neck. If you get squirmy when other people crack their neck, then you’re in for a surprise. I love it *cracks neck*. I was told that it’s the release of built-up toxins that produces the cracking sound.

Overall, it’s an amazing experience and like I said, I went back for a second treatment. Although on my second time, I didn’t crack as much (huhu! Noticing this, the therapist really put effort to “crack” me but to no avail) but that’s a good thing because it means that I’m well aligned and there’s not much built-up toxins. Yey!

Price list grabbed from Karada website
Price list grabbed from Karada website

Price. Both times I tried AP Balance Therapeutic (45 minutes) priced at Php945. I say this is value for money as it is NOT your ordinary massage. This is a wellness and chiropractic therapy. My brother-in-law, who has a spine injury, has consulted with a chiropractor for a lot more money (professional fees, of course) and they did the same thing!

So if you’re feeling aches and pains and ready to try something different, try this one out. I recommended this to my friend whose back hurts once in awhile and she loved it too! She said, her spine never felt so relaxed. Let me know how it goes for you.





Karada at Mall of Asia is located at the new wellness zone north wing. Contact numbers +639175488872 or +639271377045. Open 11am to 9pm everyday. It’s first come, first served. Or call for reservations. Click here for list of other branches.


UPDATE (June 20, 2018): This is a late update. My last visit to Karada was last December and it wasn’t what it used to be. They had rotated the therapists and the ones we were used to in the MOA branch were no longer there. I found them to be quite noisy as well, yes it’s an open area, no cubicles or curtains, but there used to be a hushed tone about. But that time, the therapists were talking among themselves. I don’t really need to hear if they’ve filed their overtime or leaves already. Also, ten minutes into the session, my therapist was already upselling me into this and that package. Couldn’t she at least have given me the hour to enjoy and feel serene? Clearly not. So no, I didn’t enjoy my last visit to Karada. For that price and reputation as a Japanese brand, I had expected more. I haven’t been back since.


Review: O’Fisher Spa

So when I was told that NHS would soon close, I was on the tail for a new massage place. And I found this!

ofisher spa
Photo grabbed from O’Fisher facebook page

It consists of two floors and on my first time, I was led to the second floor to a private room. The second time, to a cubicle separated by curtains in the first floor. I don’t know which is better: a common room for all same-sex guests but no curtains, or spaces separated with curtains but open to both male and female guests. O’Fisher provides the latter. I’m ok with this, although the problem with curtains is the lack of soundproofing. True enough, when the guest beside my cube arrived, someone rang on her phone and they started talking. Yep. I heard every word. I did appreciate, though the professionalism of my therapist. She would try to shush her every once in awhile.

Regine. That’s the name of my therapist. I think she was my therapist for both times. I like her. I would recommend her. At the start of the massage, she would state your chosen massage, duration and time start. See this difference with the other one? At least you’re sure you get what you pay for, right.

I got Swedish massage, Php300, one hour. The routine is a bit different than the ones I got in Manila. Which I think is a good thing. It’s not a copy-paste experience and, perhaps, they developed it themselves.

One massage technique though that I’m not a big fan of is the hair pulling. This is not specific to O’Fisher. I’m sure this is done in others as well. I thought of asking the therapist not to do it but I’m sure it has its benefits. It’s just that I have really thin hair and I feel like I lose a million with each pull.

After the massage, you’re offered tea or water. Their tea is served in this small Lavazza cup and looks like water with leaves. I’m not sure what kind of tea that is. You’d have to tell me.

Overall, I’m sure I’ll be going back. Sometimes the days just go on and you just want to feel relaxed and zone out even for just an hour.


O’Fisher Spa & Wellness Center is located at Metrodome, Araneta St. Contact (034) 435 2379. Open from 1:00pm to 12:00am.


Review: Blind Massage at Gaisano City Mall

I don’t know the name of that establishment. I remember seeing a sign right next to the stairs saying, “Blind Massage” with an arrow pointing up. There must be a name somewhere in that sign but it escapes me now. But I will check. And remember. Next time. For you. That’s how much YOU *points to you* mean to me. Uhuh.

What do I say? It’s a blind massage. You sit on a chair and they massage you right there in the open. Php140 for half body for half an hour. I pick this if I just want a quick and really cheap-o one.

It’s not much of an experience. If you’re looking to feel all relaxed, with background music playing, tea or water after, like you can just float into the abyss, then yeaaa,  no this probably isn’t what you’re looking for.

They do have beds for whole body massages. For Php280, one hour. But it’s not much of an ambiance. Spaces are separated by curtains. No aircon, only electric fans. For an additional 20 bucks, I’d recommend another place to you.

Then again, in all honesty, I find blind therapists to be really good. I mean, their disability is actually an advantage in this case. They heavily rely on their sense of touch to spell out that lamig or cold nerve in your body.

So if you’re really after the massage, just the massage, nothing more, then I would highly recommend these sprawling blind massage centers that you can find in most third-tier malls in the Philippines.


Blind Massage located at 2F Gaisano City Mall near the cinemas.

Review: Negrense Holiday Spa

I’ve noticed that only one blog post of mine really drew skyrocket-high attention. And that’s on a spa review. So imma give you the lowdown on the other spas I’ve tried out over here.

Having moved to Bacolod (yep, there I’ve said it), I had to look for a new massage place. Somewhere near my place, cheap but good. The first I found, which I’ve stuck to for a couple of months til it closed, was Negrense Holiday Spa at Goldenfield Complex.

Well, this may very well be a waste since it’s already closed. And I’m not sure if they’re transferring to the new complex being built right next to it, but they do have another branch on the 15th St., Lacson. Would the experience be the same? You’d have to check it out then.

nhs goldenfield
Array of rooms in NHS Goldenfield. Image grabbed from NHS facebook page.

The first time I walked in NHS, I was fairly impressed. The rates were within my range, duration was one hour and a half, and you get your own room. That would be a rare find in Manila.

I leaned towards their NHS Signature Massage, which was a mix of Swedish, Shiatsu and some other style, just because. It sounded awesome, like you get a taste of all kinds. I’m a sucker for that.

The massage was ok. My room was clean and after the massage they will offer you water. Like I said, NHS became my go-to massage place til it closed.

However, there was one thing that didn’t sit well with me. The massages didn’t last for an hour and a half. I became more conscious of the time after the first time I noticed this. After the massage, I asked the therapist if it was an hour and a half already. She said that oh she thought I got the one hour promo. I didn’t even know there was such a promo. The next time I pointed this out, the girl offered to massage me some more. Another time.. well, you catch my drift. I don’t think I have to be the timekeeper here. If it says an hour and a half, then I expect to get that.

There are a few minor things, like the girl kept checking her phone during the massage, or after the massage, the girl was already changing the sheets and wouldn’t leave the room while I was still fixing up. Don’t know if she was hanging back til I gave her a tip. A few minor things, though it does add up. When I was told it would be closing soon, I took it as a good sign to find a new one. Like the ending of a relationship, of better things to come.

You can check out their whole list of services here.

Update: It’s open til the BDO branch beside it closes. They will be transferring to Gaisano City Mall soon after.

Pressed and rolled: Good, affordable Nuat Thai massage

The other day, I woke up with this really bad crick in my neck (now I know how Aladdin’s Genie felt). I couldn’t twist my head to the right, and try as I might it just really hurt. I tried to yoga it away but to no avail.

That afternoon I was supposed to attend a training but it got cancelled. And I couldn’t go home just yet cos I have a dinner that night in the Makati area and I didn’t want to go all the way back home only to come back again. So what do I do in 3 hours?

Well there is that crick in my neck and I remember this nondescript massage place I found next to greenbelt. So off I went.

Image source: Nuat Thai website (

Nuat Thai Makati in Legaspi is located right next to Greenbelt 5. It’s a short walk and quite convenient for those aching for a foot massage after a long day of shopping. And affordable too. There were other massage places on Perea St. but my broken down wallet can only afford 300 bucks worth of massage.

The first time I saw this place, I almost didn’t go in. Afraid, to be exact. It looked dark from the outside (reminiscent of the word “shady”). But I thought, hey I am looking for a cheap massage, why not just go in and check it out right?

It is dark when you go in, only a small reception area next to the door and what follows are maybe around 7 to 8 cubicles for massaging. It looked legit to me so I tried the Thai Body Massage the first time and Back Massage the second time.

First the masseuse cleans your feet in warm water, then directs you to your cube. You’re then asked to change in to the provided shirt and pants (clean and laundered, of course). The cubes are only separated by curtains so for those concerned about changing in such circumstances, this may not be for you. My only reservation though is whether the bed sheets and pillow cases are changed after each customer. I just didn’t see the actual changing while I was there. But I’ll try to think otherwise since I’d still like to go back hehe.. And also because it’s only curtains separating the cubes, it’s not as soundproof; you’ll be able to hear the other customers beside you, whether they’re wheezing, talking on the phone or to their masseuse.

I’ve tried an actual Thai massage in Thailand and I have to say that their body massage was a similar experience. Funny, cos when I first went in, I asked the receptionist if it’s similar to Ton-Ton’s (cos that’s what I was really looking for), and of course she didn’t know.

As for the back massage, it was pretty OK too. Of course I can’t expect for my crick to instantly disappear. It helped, I think.

After the massage, they offer hot tea – a good surprise considering the rate of the massage.

The only thing I didn’t like was my masseuse kept going out. I think she was checking her phone charging outside. Anyway, this is only minor. The restroom is pretty decent too but I’d suggest to just hold it til you get back to Greenbelt.

I checked for other comments on Nuat Thai online and I found that the rate is cheaper in other branches, only 250php instead of 300php for the basic massage. I wonder if their rate has just gone up since then. Also, the photos of other branches looked much better. I think it may be a difference of franchisees.

Still, for the price, location and quality of massage, I think I’ll be going back. Even on days without a crick.

Nuat Thai Makati – Legaspi. Unit 12-B Century Plaza Condo, 120 Perea St. Legaspi Village, Makati. Tel no: 468-7131. Open 12nn – 12mn.