Strolling in Historic Marvel at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar
Hotel de Oriente standing proudly before the Umangol river
“Pride in the past, hope for the future.”
Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan remains to be the only resort of its kind in the country, using real reconstructed colonial homes that were transplanted from different provinces across the country as accommodation for visiting guests. Whereas other resorts aim to showcase the location that they’re in, this particular resort and convention center aims to showcase the nation’s heritage by putting a spotlight on the architecture of “a bygone era”.
Owned and developed by real estate company New San Jose Builders, the 100-acre property has a variety of almost 40 Spanish-Filipino colonial homes, all thanks to Mr. Jose “Jerry” Acuzar’s grand vision of creating a space that highlights the culture of centuries past.
These sculpted lampposts greeted us upon arrival at the resort
My family and I recently paid the heritage resort a visi and decided to take the Day Tour to get acquainted with the many houses (and their former occupants) in the expansive resort.
Paseo de Escolta
The Heritage Day Tour at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar takes you thru colonial Manila by giving you a closer look at reconstructed 18th century homes in the span of one hour. Having arrived in the resort in the middle of the 10:30 am tour, we were told to wait at Casa Mexico to join the 11:30am tour instead.
7:30 Depart from Manila
10:30 Arrival at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan
11:30 Start of Heritage Day Tour
13:00 End of Heritage Day Tour
13:30 Depart Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar
Waiting was no ordeal as there was so much to see. Workers were busy around us replacing the cobblestones with flat square tiles, but the huge restored houses around us were enough to keep our eyes off the ground.
A close look at the train tracks that loop their way around the resort
The colonial buildings lend an old town feel to the heritage resort
Our tour guide led us down the cobbled paths of the heritage resort by the sea, ushering us into some houses while describing their history and noting the architecture, and pointing out which houses were open for guests to stay in. Guests are advised to wear sandals or slippers in order to make the entry and exit into each restored house easier. Just like in colonial times, guests are requested to leave footwear at the door.
Just three of the casas we passed at the start of the tour
The weather was overcast and humid at the start of the tour, and as we entered our third house, a sudden shower poured basting the entire resort in rainwater.
The oncoming storm cloud from the second floor window of Casa Quiapo
Thankfully, Casa Quiapo had a colorful history that was narrated to us by our guide as we toured its two stories of reconstructed stone and wood. Formerly known as Casa Hidalgo, the house was designed by the first Filipino architect, Felix Roxas y Arroyo, and owned by a famous painter named Don Rafael Enriquez.
Into Casa Quiapo’s cavernous stone-lined entryway
Casa Quiapo’s second floor
Our witty tour guide kept us entertained with his facts and trivia throughout the tour
The house was the first home of the U.P. School of Fine Arts. Enriquez being the school director, the house saw many notable artists train in its halls. Juan Luna, Feliz Hidalgo, Fernando Amorsolo, and Guillermo Tolentino (the latter both becoming National Artists in the their heyday) all studied in Casa Quiapo’s very halls, until the time when the school was finally transferred to a new home on Padre Faura St. in Manila.
Now in its full, reconstructed glory, Casa Quiapo sits in Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar as the Escuela de Bellas Artes’ contemporary art space, a fitting role for a structure that has been home to so much art in the past 109 years (1908-2017).
Since the rain was still going pretty strong, our tour guide left us briefly to grab some disposable raincoats to use, so we could continue with our tour. We had a few more houses left to see.
Las Casas is beautiful even in the rain
The rain turned out to be a blessing as the weather was so much cooler that it had been at the start of our day tour. Our guide led us thru Casa Biñan, which was the restored home of Teodora Alonso, the mother of National Hero, Jose Rizal.
Looking out the window at Casa Biñan’s courtyard; Heading out of the Casa’s spacious entryway
Our guide led us down the path toward La Parilla, the resort’s poolside bar, to redeem our free bottles of water. We sat down and took in the view of the sea, as seen from resort’s swimming pool.
The resort’s Café del Rio, just beside La Parilla
The final house of the tour
Interested in paying Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar a visit, or staying in one of their restored colonial houses? Check out their website here.
All photos shot by freelance photographer and graphic designer Marco Vibal. Check out his work here.