Tuesday, May 08, 2012

A trip back in time: Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar

Ok, I have a confession to make: It was only after I got a little education in college that I started to appreciate old things. Before that, brand new was best for me. Now I value old houses and old furniture because I know that they have history.

I had read about Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar from the newspapers and while debates still raged about the propriety of taking away old houses from their original locations and context, I appreciate the efforts of the Acuzar family to do what our government can't. They have preserved and restored these beautiful houses and saved them from being sold as scrap metal and firewood. 

We just had to go there .
So one day in April, we got a van and rode for 3 hours on relatively smooth roads to Bagac, Bataan where we were transported back in time. 

Tip: The map to get there is simplified and the road to the resort has lots of signs that say "Reduce speed"  and "No overtaking" but hardly any signs to tell you where you are. Don't be afraid to ask for directions.
We arrived at lunch time and while check-in is at 2pm, they graciously let us check in right away .
We then ordered lunch at Cafe Marivent where the food was surprisingly tasty and large enough for sharing.

Sweet and sour fish (P440)was a bit too sour for our taste

Pochero.(P370) The beef might need more time in the pot to make it tender

Chicken Binakol:(P480) The suprise winner. This was really good!

Lomi.(P300) Another winner. The serving was so big we almost weren't able to finish it. And there were 9 of us!

While they also rented out the old authentic houses, they were too expensive for us.We stayed at room 210 of Paseo de Escolta, the executive suite with a loft. (P7,225 plus P950 per additional person)While it officially accommodates a maximum of 6, they let all 9 of us stay here. Hooray! The first floor has a small dining area, a sala with LCD tv with cable and a dvd player. It also has a small toilet and bath. The second floor has another dining area, a large bed, a mini bar and a larger bathroom with a bathtub. And a strong airconditoner is a godsend in scorching Bataan!

I'm glad it still feels like an old house with modern amenities because I think they added parts and furniture form other houses they salvaged. You may hear videoke music wafting in from the bathroom because there's another resort next door. If there's one thing I didn't like about our room, it's how dark it got at night with only a few lamps for light. Not very good for people with poor eyesight!
The loft where my aunts and my brother and I slept.

Detail of a chair in our room

The bathtub! We were officially happy

After a short nap, we joined the tour of the old houses in the Acuzar resort. You can also borrow a straw hat to shade you from the sun. You can choose to listen to the tour guide but the information she gives out is also contained in the map each guest is given. It's just too bad that some of the houses were occupied so we couldn't get in.
This is me in front of the seal of Casa Quiapo/Hidalgo, the first school of  Fine Arts of UP Manila. I just had to pay homage to our mothership. Did you know that when this was abandoned, it became abowling alley and a den for live sex shows?Sacrilege!

This is the area they reserved for helicopter landings

Inside Casa Lubao. Exquisite!

Casa Luna's treasures. This is where the Acuzar family have their antiques displayed.

It was late in the afternoon but the heat was still unbearable outdoors so we went for a dip in the pool. It's small and not deep but slopes down steeply in one area so senior citizens should be accompanied, just to be safe.

At night the houses are lit and look so romantic and dreamy. We even saw a couple having their pre-nuptial photoshoot before dinner which is held in the plaza where they set up a stage for a cultural dance show.
Kaldereta. Again, the beef is not very tender.

Pork Binagoongan. It's ok but I'm not a fan of binagoongan

Sinigang na maya-maya. Refreshing on a hot night. The lights illuminted our tables but felt really hot on my back

Table decoration
 An important tip: The resort is around 30 minutes away from the business center of Bataan so it would be better to bring cash. They accept credit cards but when my Papa tried to pay for dinner using his credit card, the waiter said they were having  problems accessing the bank.
One in a series of dances.

Brazo de Maria. Their name for what we know as Brazo de Mercedes.

Gabi ice cream. (P40) I can't really taste the gabi, which might be a good thing

The halo-halo in a coconut shell. P240. Overpriced!

The next morning, it was time to have fun! I convinced my mom to bring her ternos and period costumes for our own photoshoot!

The help

Breakfast is included for overnight guests

Good coffee, which was also refillable

We were also able to convince our titas to join our photshoot!

I love this picture.So timeless.

Tip: Bring your own costumes. They have costumes for rent at the resort but it's expensive.
Then it was off to the beach which is a few minutes away from our room. The beach is not very clean and not exclusive to guests only so after a few splashes we went to the pool. So sad I didn't see any corals and fishies this year.

Las Casas is really a charming place that every Filipino and balikbayan should see at least once. It's like walking into a massive museum of memories where you can relive the past and be proud of our rich heritage.

 I also wanted to pass by Mt. Samat shrine and the Pawikan conservaton center but it was just too hot and we had a baby and senior citizens who might not be able to stand the heat.  

Tip: Make sure your ride has very good airconditoning or you might melt.
Tip: Don't forget to buy some crabs on your way home. And if you like buko pandan, stop by Nathaniel's in Pampanga! It is worth the trip!


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