January 2018

Get lost in time: Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar Tour

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If you were given a chance to revisit the past, what specific time, place or event you want to go to? Have you ever thought about it?

Today, I am featuring a Heritage resort in the Philippines: Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar. Mr. Jose “Gerry” Acuzar is the brilliant man behind this wonderful creation located in Bagac, Bataan. ‘

TRANSPORTATION

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I personally recommend bringing a private car if you’re planning to visit. Don’t worry, parking space is not a problem here. But if you’re going via public transportation, here’s an easy guide:

  1. Take the Genesis or Bataan transit bus going to Balanga, Bataan.
  2. From Balanga, take the mini bus or shuttle going to Bagac
  3. Lastly, take the tricycle going to Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar

Note: If you made a reservation and/or you have a voucher, have it ready upon entering the entrance.

See schedule and fare rates here:

http://www.bataantransit.com

http://www.phbus.com/genesis-bus/

You can just walk-in and pay at the reception area like we did. But during peak seasons like Christmas, I suggest you go for online booking.

RATES

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Las Casas offer different packages for rooms and tours. But I will only focus on the heritage tour which is inclusive of these activities:

  • Walking tour with a guide
  • River cruise
  • Kalesa ride
  • Family lunch
  • Access to Hotel de Oriente

*Weekday Heritage Tour – PHP 2, 000

*Weekend Heritage Tour- PHP 2, 500

Tour schedule:

9:30AM / 10:30AM / 11:30AM / 1:30PM / 2:30PM / 3:30PM / 4:30PM

If you want to maximize your stay, it’s best to arrive early. If I remember correctly, the duration of the tour is 1 to 1.5 hours.

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Free jeepney service in Las Casas

Jeepney, often times referred to as “Jeep” is the most common form of transportation by land in the Philippines.

 

If you live in the Philippines and was born between 70’s to 90’s, then you probably have heard about Lola Basyang.

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Statue of Lola Basyang in Las Casas

Trivia: In the Philippines, we refer to our grandmothers as “Lolas”. Lola Basyang, as contrary to what most people know is not an old woman in real life. Not even a woman but rather, a man. Severino Reyes, a Filipino writer, only used Lola Basyang as pen name and symbol in writing bedtime stories which are really classic and famous even today.

KALESA RIDE

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After some walking and roaming around, we decided to use our Kalesa ride ticket. It was a different feeling riding a Kalesa in Las Casas especially because the whole place gave me 18th century vibe. I felt like I’m a character in one of Dr. Jose Rizal’s novels.

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kalesa (also known as caritela or karitela) is a horse-drawn calash used in the Philippines. (source: Wikipedia)

After our Kalesa ride, we had our lunch which was also part of the package we availed.

HERITAGE TOUR

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Our heritage tour started at 1:30 in the afternoon. It was led by a tour guide, a very entertaining one. I like how tour guides managed to still project a genuine smile to visitors despite the thick costumes and humid weather. They are passionate, hardworking and hospitable. Very Filipino, right?

The guide led us to the old houses while telling us stories, history and even controversies of each house. Each house has a story to tell. Some are good, some are bad. But hearing those stories made the whole experience a lot better. Many of the houses, in a way, are the actual houses from the Spanish era / Old Manila. They took pieces apart and then reassembled them brick by brick, detail by detail. Though some are just replica, but they made sure that they copy the exact same look and structure. Mr. Acuzar named each house according to its origin like Casa Lubao, Casa Hagonoy, Casa Baliuag, etc.

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Casa Lubao facing Sanctuario De San Jose

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Sanctuario De San Jose, a church inside Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar

During our tour in Las Casas, I thought it’s a good place for weddings. The church wedding itself and the celebration with guests could both already take place there. Then suddenly I realized there was a wedding happening at the moment.

Hagonoy

Casa Hagonoy

They said that 70% of the original materials was retained when the house was transferred to Las Casas. There’s also a sad story about this house. They said, there was a man who fell in love with a woman. The woman agreed to marry the man if he would build a big house for them and would give her expensive jewelry. Hence, this house was built. They end up together but eventually, the man and woman suffered from poverty and died poor.

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Casa Biñan

Is this place familiar to you? If yes, you probably watched the movie “Heneral Luna”. This is the back part of the house where the death scene of Antonio Luna was taken. It was also the historical home of our very own Dr. Jose Rizal, Philippine National Hero. Sadly, the replica contains 1% material from the original house because the real Casa Biñan was destroyed in 2009 by Typhoon Ondoy.

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Casa Meycauayan

Originally built in San Fernando, Pampanga in 1913 and reconstructed during the 1950s in Meycauayan, Bulacan.

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Paseo de Escolta (Sorry, I’m such a photobomber!)

Planning to buy “Pasalubong” or souvenirs? You’ll find commercial stores and shops as the ground floor is dedicated for such. Upper floors have hotel rooms. It’s so nostalgic, way back during Old Manila times, they were hotel rooms as well.

Pasalubong (Tagalog, “[something] for when you welcome me”) is the Filipino tradition of travelers bringing gifts from their destination to people back home. (Source: Wikipedia)

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Casa Bizantina

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Casa Bizantina Room no. 901

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Originally located in San Nicolas, Manila and was transferred and reconstructed in Las Casas in 2009. If you’re interested to rent Casa Bizantina, it will cost you PHP 150,000/night for 16 people.

Trivia: The owner of this house was Don Lorenso del Rosario, one of the people who signed the 1899 Malolos Constitution.

RIVERSIDE TOUR

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This was my favorite activity. We took a ride on their balsa and enjoyed the view of the houses from Umangol river. Surrounded by brick walls, verandas, and arched bridges, this definitely will give you some Venice vibe!

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HOTEL DE ORIENTE

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Trivia: Jose Rizal was a guest in this hotel.

“Wow!” was the first word I ever said when they opened the door of Hotel de Oriente. It is elegantly beautiful, so much that it felt like a fairytale moment when we entered. No wonder it was the most prestigious hotel in Manila during 1800’s and at one point, was the only first-class hotel in the entire country. The details of the structure is really impressive. Hotel de Oriente is now the premier convention center in Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.

OTHER PHOTOS I WANT TO SHARE

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This place has a very sad history. It used to be a place for abortion during the old times.

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BEACH

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Yes, people refer to this place as “Heritage Resort”. If you feel tired after doing all the activities I have mentioned above, you can relax here. But trust me, the Balsa tour is already relaxing enough.

The best thing about this place is that you can do a lot of things since it’s not your usual resort. But I think, it’s more of museums inside a huge museum and I like this place for that! In this case, the beach is actually just a bonus, like an additional feature.

 

It’s been weeks since we went here. But until now, I’m still full of excitement while writing this blog. Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar is beautiful, you’ll leave the place feeling proud as a Filipino.

I appreciate going to places like this. It makes me remember what our country went through. It also gives me a picture of what it’s like to live in the past and how rich the culture and history of the Philippines are. Because of these, we are who we are today.

Mabuhay Pilipinas!

Kevin Bascao, The Gypsy Life of Kevin

Credits to Eliza Anne Bascao and Trisha Bascao for the photos. Please like, comment and share. Thanks!

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