BACK IN TIME
Have you ever thought of going back in time and having the chance to witness what really happened in a historical place or person? Or just curious about how our ancestors lived their lives? Living in homes we seldom see nowadays and doing activities in a very conventional way? Whenever I visit a place rich in history, I always imagine myself traveling through time—curious about the history surrounding that site. Hoping to see in person what had happened in that exact place and at that particular time—what actions they did that resulted in what we have today. Seems impossible to do, right? But, I was able to experience it… somehow.
Last holiday, I got the opportunity to visit Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan. A heritage site that replicates a community from the Spanish colonial period. A park for those who want to go back in time and appreciate architecture and design during our ancestors’ time. A tour back in a time of bitter past but it brought an architectural and historical gift for us Filipinos.
LAS CASAS FILIPINAS DE ACUZAR
Las Casas Filipinas was conceptualized and owned by Jose “Jerry” Acuzar. His passion for architecture and antiquities made this cultural site possible. A collection of Casas that shows us Filipinos our heritage and history. Filled with Casas ( the Spanish word for houses) found in different provinces around the Philippines. Casas that were dismantled one by one and brought to the site to be restored. There are also replicas but they were also built with magnificence.
Just upon arriving at the park’s entrance, we saw the vastness of the area. Old-fashioned structures stood firm and people wore vintage clothing. From afar, you’ll wonder how much the owner invested to have this collection. It felt like we’d gone time traveling. We took the 2000 Peso package which includes a river tour, family lunch, Calesa Ride, access to the Hotel de Oriente, and the Heritage Tour.
The river tour lets everyone see the Casas from a different perspective. We rode a balsa that cruises on the Umagol River. It is a natural river that was expanded to fill the site which adds to the authenticity of the look. The tour lets us explore Estero de Binondo, which is a representation of the old Binondo. As we all know, Binondo is known as the oldest Chinatown in the world and it grew as a place of commerce since before Spanish times. The river tour experience is like being in Venice—exploring the waterways on a gondola. As we cruised around Estero de Binondo, we saw houses and bridges with intricate designs. I was amazed at the experience. Even if the sun was high at that time, we just ignored it and appreciated the beautifully made structures around us.
HOTEL DE ORIENTE
The boatman dropped us at the front of a grand hotel known as Hotel de Oriente. It was known as the first luxury hotel in the Philippines. A hotel that was once stayed in by Rizal during his return from Hong Kong. I was surprised that it stood beside Binondo Church. Unfortunately, it is only a replica of the once magnificent hotel. The hotel was destroyed during World War 2 and was never built again. Despite it being a replica, the restorers based its exterior on its original form seen in old photographs. Since no one knows what it looks like inside. They decided to give it a new look with works from local designers and artisans. Today, it has been a convention hall for different events like the APEC meeting and concerts.
After eating our lunch, our next and last activity was the Heritage Tour. A tour that lets visitors explore and discover the interior and history of the houses. The Casas were named after the towns where they have been found/built. Like, Casa Lubao owned by the Arrastia Family was originally built in Lubao, Pampanga.
Each casa has its own glamour, especially the history behind those woods and stones. The tour guide told us some interesting facts about the owners and the fate of each house. Some stories of which were dark and intriguing… stories of massacres, affairs, and abandonment.
There’s still more to experience in Las Casas like the cultural show at night and the buffet that can be tasted at Plaza Belmonte.
Seeing those structures in Las Casas made me think and regret, what if, we were able to maintain some of those structures in the city? Will it make a difference in our identity and cultural appreciation? Having a place like this makes you appreciate how this part of our history brought a gift of architectural beauty.
Visiting Las Casas somehow made my impossible dream of time travel possible. Being there made me feel and experience living in those times. I hope you also visit Las Casas to see and appreciate these wonders built by the past and restored by the future.
THE NEXT POST WILL BE ABOUT MT. SAMAT NATIONAL SHRINE AND DUNSULAN FALLS. DON’T FORGET TO CHECK IT OUT TOO!
TRAVEL GUIDE & TIPS
|Departure from Metro Manila
|Arrival at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.
|Register for tour
|Start River Tour
|Visit Hotel de Oriente
|Start of Heritage Tour
|End of Heritage Tour. Rest.
|Leave Las Casas
HOW TO GET THERE:
a. By Public Transportation:
- Ride a bus from Cubao to Balanga, Bataan.
- At Balanga, take a minibus bound for Bagac.
- Take a trike from the main road to Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.
b. By Private Transportation:
- Take Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX) or the Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX). If you take NLEX, exit to San Fernando City.
- Take Jose Abad Santos Avenue which will pass through Guagua and Lubao.
- Continue to Bataan Provincial Highway.
- When you reach an intersection in Pilar, turn right onto Gov. JJ Linao National Road.
- A sign can be seen on the left side, turn left and continue to Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.
Day Tour Packages:
- Entrance fee and use of beach area
- Welcome drink
- 1 Hour Heritage walking tour
- Vicinity Map
- Cold Towel
*₱2000 (Minimum of 5 paying persons)
- Entrance fee and use of beach area
- Heritage walking tour
- Welcome drink
- Vicinity map
- Kalesa ride
- Access to Hotel de Oriente
- Family Lunch
- Cold Towel
- River Cruise
- River Tour Fee (If not included in the package) = ₱500
- Entrance Fee (Hotel de Oriente) = ₱200
CHECK OUT THESE DISCOUNTED/PROMO RATES IN KLOOK:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Contact Numbers: 0917-872-9361 (Mobile), (02) 546-9123, (02) 877-45(01-03) (Landlines)
- Website: https://www.lascasasfilipinas.com/
- Fax: (02) 738-4728
- Prepare for a rough ride going to Las Casas, the road from the main to there is not yet established.
- Most of the time you’ll be walking under the sun, I suggest you bring umbrellas, sunglasses, and caps/hats for protection. Apply sunblocks or sunscreens for double protection.
- There are a lot of ways to go from one place to another within the site. You can go by Kalesa ride, by tram, or by a jeepney. The Kalesa ride is included in the 2000 package, while the other two are included for those who availed of an overnight stay. But somehow, we’ve managed to ride the jeepney. I’m not sure if they are strict about the jeepney rides. If you somehow learned their policy regarding their rides, let me know. 🙂
- Some of the houses can’t be entered depending on their availability since some of the houses are available for rent.
- If ever you get hungry, there are restaurants located in Las Casas. You can choose from Filipino, Italian, and Spanish cuisines.
- Wear footwear that can be easily taken off since it is required to remove them before entering a house.
- Last but not least, consider them as your own house. Don’t vandalize and take care of what is left of them. They are homes with previous owners and they are part of our own history and identity. Let’s preserve what is left of our identity. 🙂