27 June 2011

Lakwatsang Pinoy: Las Casas Filipinas

This starts my Lakwatsang Pinoy Series, which, when translated into English, approximately means Filipino Frolicking. I figured I find myself in the Philippines every now and then, and so I might as well do a good job at blogging about things to see here, something that I attempted to do last year, but as always, there's room for improvement.

So for the first entry in this series (which will be staggered along, as usual), I'll blog about Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, which is a resort found in Bagac, Bataan. This is about 3-4 hours north of Manila. Usually, I don't feel like blogging about exclusive resorts, as I'm more of a sight-seeing person than a resort person, but this one is an exception.

See, this is more of a living museum that feels like a theme park. The owner happens to collect old Spanish-era houses and he has the land to situate it. In time, they turned the houses into a small village, with houses that function as hotels, a restaurant, several museums, and so forth. So the whole area actually feels like a neighborhood back in the days of the Spanish Era, with cobblestone streets.

If you're a visitor in the place, you can actually stay in one of the houses, which is what we did. There's several houses that we can enter and tour, and these are the houses that function as museums, displaying how life would have been back in the days. It's also a convenient thing that the plot of land is next to the beach, so people who love swimming (as much as I can, I don't) can dip into the water and watch the sun set into the South China Sea.

For the rest of this entry, I'll show a few of the pictures I have taken while spending 3 days and 2 nights there. Enjoy the pictures.

The first picture shows the rather old staircase that was quite nicely restored. It leads to the second floor of the Salon de Juego. The interior was very interesting, and the second pictures shows a snapshot of what was inside, which was filled with period furniture. One thought I had however, when visiting this house, was that it was quite hot, since the windows were closed all the time.

Even Lola Basyang makes an appearance! Lola Basyang is a folk character, the stereotypical grandmother who knows all the stories, telling them to her grandchildren that are seated in front of her. The Casa Quiapo provides a nice backdrop.

One feature of the old Spanish-era houses is that there are two floors most of the time, and the first floor is made of stones while the second floor is wood. The two pictures above illustrate this. The entrance is of different styles. Sometimes, the first floor is simply a stone support system, complete with driveways and such, and the main living area begins upstairs. In others, the first floor which is stone also houses different rooms. The above pictures illustrate this difference.

The next three pictures show Casa Luna, which is perhaps my most favorite house in the collection. It stands out because the stones that were used for the first floor is red, setting it apart from the other houses. This house functions as a museum, so I entered it. A common feature of the old Spanish-era houses is this corridor that wraps around the whole house, found between the outside windows and the interior. The third photo shows this. This corridor is used by the servants so they can move around the house. The masters of the house on the other hand can move around freely inside.

The next two pictures show a glimpse of the whole neighborhood. There's a plaza with fountains, and many other fixtures that one can find scattered among the houses. It really looks like an old Spanish neighborhood back in the days.

The above picture shows one of the several Casa Cagayan houses. These are also reconstructed houses from the same period, but obviously the stone house concept is not used. These are poor man's houses that are found near the ocean, which explains the reason why it stands on a wooden stilt structure. We stayed in one of these for our stay. These houses are neatly located next to the beach.

Finally, I also attempted at taking some night shots, but I'm not too happy about it. The above two photos show the Paseo de Escolta, which is a recreation of old buildings in Manila. This functions as the main hotel of the establishment. Also, there's another illuminated house, which functions as the banquet hall of the area.

Overall, I think a stay of 2 nights is ideal here, as one can explore the area and the surroundings as well given that time period.


  1. Nice! I'm glad to see some pictures as you write, I can now have a mental picture of the places you visited.

    The weather looks rather blah, it is always greyish like that? I know it's hot though.

  2. Zhu,

    Yes, unfortunately, weather here in the Philippines is always along the lines of "scattered thunderstorms", at least during the time I was there. There are clouds, especially in the afternoon, and when they get heavy, they fall as rain.

  3. Beautiful photos Jeruen. I love the statues of Lola Basyang and the kids on the fountain.

  4. Toe,

    Thanks! Artificial as they may be, they were still pretty!

  5. This is a pretty sight, never mind if there's a Vigan up north. I'm hoping there's a developer that would incorporate designs of old Hispanic houses for modern Pinoys to own and live in (Most are North American if you've noticed).

  6. TNP,

    Very true. Although I have this idea that the old Hispanic design is more suited for bigger houses that can accommodate multiple families, unlike the North American design that can be done for a single family household. However, come to think of it, when you see the pattern of habitation of Filipinos, where children just stay with the parents even if they're already married and with kids, just building another room at the back of the house, then perhaps the Hispanic design isn't as bad as one would think.

  7. I liked this post a lot, the pictures make your descriptions complete. PS: Great shots!

  8. Priyank,

    Thanks! I've been trying to teach myself better ways of taking photos...