Imagine a place that is so beautiful you will feel awestruck from sunup to sundown. Add to that some activities and attractions that make it so special and you have Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan — about 2.5 hours of drive away from Manila.
My friends and I planned to go to this place a few months back. In exchange of PHp 1000 per person c/o Deal Grocer, we had earned a meritorious experience exploring this heritage resort and staying at its executive suite for 2D1N (November 22-23, 2013). The deal included breakfast, usage of the swimming pool and the beach area, and the one-hour heritage walking tour.
Top 10 Things We Did in Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar (Bagac, Bataan)
1. Heritage Historical Tour
Once we arrived at 9:30AM, the front-desk receptionist dressed in colonial garb gave us a map and a quick overview of the places we can visit and facilities we can use inside Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar. We were given welcome drinks and vouchers for breakfast the next morning.
The one-hour walking historical tour by Dexter Manansala started right after the briefing. We learned many untold histories from this guy beaming with character. For those who plan to visit this place for a day tour, I advise you to wear slippers or slip-ons (with socks for hygienic purposes), as you will be required to remove your footwear when entering the house.
Owned by Jerry Acuzar and managed by Genesis Hotels and Resorts (the same group who manages Bella Roca, Misibi sBay, Astoria and Midas Hotel), Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar has 27 heritage architectures full with memories of the past. It is described as “a living museum of Philippine customs and traditions that are reborn in a community typical of the 18th to early 20th century Philippines.” The houses here were reconstructed from different parts of the country, “brick by brick” and “plank by plank.” Every part in the house from exterior to interior is like a piece of puzzle, assembled from pieces inspired by paintings and pictures in old houses.
Biking along village cobblestone streets commands a feeling of nostalgia, wonder, romance and appreciation of simple living at its best. However, for people like me who don’t know how to ride a bike and keep balance, seeing friends enjoy is enough. I’m not eager to learn and I just don’t want to be injured during the trip. 😛 Bike rental is PHp 150 per hour and the bicycle usage is transferable among the group so everyone may have a turn.
One of the houses in Las Casas allowed us to borrow kites made out of newspaper. We got two of them and my friends held the kites with the wind and ran on the wide, open field. When it was my turn, “technical difficulties” caused by the lousy and unstable wind came in the way. Who knew it was so hard to fly a kite! I guess sending a kite to soar takes practice and skill I’m not lucky to have.
4. Throwing Darts
Like kite-flying, throwing darts is something I have not tried before (not counting balloon-shooting in carnivals). Its mechanics and scoring system are out of my world. As I watched how the dart moved to the target and traveled along a parabolic curve, I thought that the aiming position and the throwing technique are critical. Being a newbie in this game, I held the dart like a pencil and didn’t worry about scoring points. In the end, the dart landed right on the target and our team won! 😀
In the same entertainment facility, we played a different form of billiards. The balls were not sphere-shaped; they were flat rounds made of wood, so hitting them to the holes was extra hard. Yet again, our team won! Chamba.
6. Picture Taking
Las Casas is a great destination for those of us who love taking pictures. It is a visual feast of stunning architecture, from colonial houses with ornate wood carvings, to beautiful bridges patterned after the famous Jones bridge. If you’re in to photographing structures, be ready to endure painful heat of the sun as every backdrop shot makes the trip all worth it.
It can be easy to get caught up in the seeing of sights, but taking a break to eat and enjoy Spanish, Filipino and Italian cuisines offered at two restaurants inside Las Casas can be just as rewarding. We dined in at both restaurants and you can read the review here: Café Marivent in Casa Unisan and La Bella Teodoro in Casa Binan. I hope you’re hungry. 😉
8. Staying In
We stayed at a super spacious Executive Suite: loft-type room for six in Paseo de Escolta. Although the exterior design looked outdated, the interior felt like a home away from home, with a luxury twist and modern conveniences. Room rate per night is PHp 8,075 during Fridays, Saturdays, Long Weekend and Holidays; PHp 9,500 during Christmas, New Year and Holy Week; and PHp 7225 during weekdays (Sundays to Thursdays). See blue house below:
The first floor consisted of a sofa set, dining set, a television, electric fan and bathroom; the second floor, a queen-sized bed, study area, telephone, toilet, air conditioner and dining set; and the third floor, two queen-sized beds, air conditioner and a cabinet. The toilet was spacious and with hot running water, sink and toiletries.
You can view more room rates here.
9. Enjoying Scenery
Before setting foot on Bagac, Bataan soil, I had certain preconceptions about what to do and see. Our original itinerary was to tour around even outside Las Casas: Death March Marker: Historical Landmarks – Dambana ng Kagitingan (Shine of Valor), Filipino-Japanese Friendship Marker, St. Catherine of Alexandria Church (one of the oldest churches in Bataan), Surrender Site Marker, the 18th century St. Joseph Cathedral, the Fall of Bataan Marker or La Puerta al Paraiso (Yasa beach) “Gateway to Paradise”. However because of lack of time (and energy), we just enjoyed each other’s company and the scenery inside the village. The views looked splendid especially at night when lights were on.
10. Playing at the Beach Area
At the beach area, we stopped by momentarily to feel sands between our feet and run through tires like in an obstacle course.
This trip was no adventure travel; extreme activities like skydiving, mountain hikes and bungee jumping were nowhere in the it. Nonetheless, we cherished every bit of our stay at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar with these activities putting us in the middle of an unforgettable experience.
To conclude, Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar delivered all of this in spades. At the end of the day, I see it as a real, tangible fairy tale heritage resort having an appeal that conveys something hard to resist — simple living at its best. Do yourself a favor and explore this incredible place!
How to Go to Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar (Bagac, Bataan)
1. Drive through North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and exit through San Fernando.
2. Drive to Dinalupihan Road or take the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) but still exit to Dinalupihan Road.
3. Continue driving until you see the Philippine-Japan friendship tower. There are many road signs that will lead to the location so stay vigilant.
Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar
Barangay Pag-Asa, Bagac, Bataan, Philippines
For reservations/inquiries, contact Manila Reservation Office: call (02) 546-9123, (02) 332-5338, (02) 335-3032 and (02) 332-5286 or email email@example.com
Mezzanine Floor Victoria Towers, Timog Avenue, Quezon City