Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar is an 18th-century heritage park and open-air museum located along Umagol River, in Barangay Pag-asa, in the town of Bagac, province of Bataan, Philippines. It was created in 2003 by Jose “Gerry” Acuzar, owner of New San Jose Builders, and opened it to the public in 2010. It is managed by Genesis Hotels and Resorts Corporation.
It presents a 400-hectare sprawling settlement of 27 Spanish colonial-heritage houses from various cities and provinces of the Philippines (e.g., Biñan, Bulacan, Cagayan, Ilocos, La Union, Manila, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, and Quezon City). Each house or “casa” was dismantled in situ (in its original place), brick by brick, numbered, transported to this site, where they were reassembled and restored. The houses are often made with a stone foundation on the ground level and made of wood on the upper floor. If parts are missing, bricks and woodwork were replaced to resemble the original structure.
If you have arthritis, no worries, dear Seniors, the property offers the following transportation facilities to take you around:
- Jeepney – pick-up starts in front of Casa Mexico and drops off at Casa New Manila
- Kalesa – a horse-drawn carriage; reserve at the Concierge and meet Makisig, the horse, used for this traditional mode of transportation good for 2 to 4 persons;
- Bicycle – reserve, for a fee, per hour;
- Golf Cart – reserve at Casa Mexico for a fee per hour, whether self-driven (maximum 4 persons) or tour guide-driven (maximum 3 persons); and,
- Tram – a vehicle which goes around the property along a metal railway or track.
For Seniors who can afford and who have an architectural, cultural and/or historical interest, this place is for you! You will also have lots of “muni-muni” (reflection) time while strolling from one house to another along the brick pavements or cobblestone streets, or while riding any of the above vehicles and feeling the gentle to strong (depending on the weather/season) wind from the Beach Area, direct from the West Philippine Sea. If you love taking selfies or unique Spanish architecture, more reason to go, just apply lots of sunscreen! If you enjoy spending time walking/strolling with family or “balikbayan friends”, enjoying freshly-baked pandesal from La Panaderia or native delicacies for “merienda” (snacks) at La Parilla/Pica Pica, indulging in local fruity-flavored “sorbetes” (ice cream) peddled by a roving “sorbetero” (ice cream vendor) wearing a wide-brimmed straw hat, swimming, sunbathing and appreciating the beautiful sunset while sipping beer/cocktails by the beach, and without the “noisy” nightlife of the city even for just one night, then check this destination out!
Stay at least overnight to enjoy this unique resort and savor its beauty on a leisurely pace, preferably on a weekend, to witness traditional native activities (listed below). I visited this nostalgic property on February 2017, along with my high school buddies as part of our 45th jubilee. There are 217 rooms to choose from; check-in is 2 pm and check-out is 12 noon.
I stayed with my husband in a Deluxe Room with a “retro ambiance” yet still enjoyed the comforts of air-conditioning, a queen-sized bed, television with cable, an in-room safety deposit box, a bathroom with hot and cold water and a separate bathtub and shower, and breakfast was also included.
Other types of rooms are the:
- Executive Suite – located at Paseo de Escolta with a view of the plaza and gazebo; for 6 adults; with 3 queen beds with 2 extra beds;
- Family Suite – located at Estero de Binondo with a view of Plaza Marcelino (river view) or beach front, for 6 adults, with 3 queen beds and 2 extra beds;
- Large Superior Deluxe – located at Estero de Binondo with a view of Plaza Marcelino (river view, beach front, or plaza); for 4 adults, with 2 queen beds and 2 extra beds; and, the
- Studio with Loft – located at Paseo de Escolta with a view of the plaza; for 4 adults, with 2 queen beds and 2 extra beds.
Visit its website for prices/availability/more information: www.lascasasfilipinas.com
The following tours are offered (but note that schedules/prices may be changed, so inquire beforehand):
- A WALKING HERITAGE TOUR held about 7 times daily (9:30 am, 10:30 am, 11:30 am, 1:30 pm, 2:30 pm, 3:30 pm, and 4:30 pm), subject to weather conditions, for 1,500 pesos. A trained and eloquent tour guide gives the history of each house. Experience this special one-hour tour with your “amigas” or family. The tour starts at Casa Mexico.
- Here are some tips for you to maximize this tour: choose comfortable footwear that is easy to remove and wear (since you will be required to leave it at the door of each house before entry; wear socks for hygiene, if desired; wear comfortable and light clothes; during summer or hot days, apply sunblock, wear a cap or hat and even bring an umbrella; and, bring water for hydration. If it is windy, bring a shawl or something to keep you warm and, for ladies, apply a lip balm to protect your lips.
- Since my husband and I stayed overnight, we availed of this tour and learned to appreciate more of our country’s rich history, architecture and culture. The tour guides were fluent in both English and Tagalog.
- An ALL-DAY TOUR for a minimum of 5 persons, with 2,000 pesos nett per person, paid in advance, and cannot be combined with other promotions. There are several schedules daily, subject to weather conditions. Same tips as the previous tour.
- A RIVER/BALSA TOUR for a minimum of 4 persons per ride, on an “intimate and romantic” cruise around the property using a “balsa” (raft) for 500 pesos each. You can leisurely float along the Umangol River and the glide along surrounding balconies, brick walls, verandas and arched bridges.
- A HOTEL DE ORIENTE TOUR is a tour of the faithful replica of the first luxury hotel in Binondo during the Spanish colonial era of our country, for 200 pesos. It is the property’s “premier 3-floor convention center” which can accommodate functions for at least 10 persons to banquets of up to 600 persons. Its lobby boasts of wooden sculptures crafted by Betis and Paete carvers.
- A WORKSHOP TOUR is an in-house workshop where woodcarvings and bricks are traditionally made. The tour starts at Casa Mexico and is held Tuesday to Thursday (9 am/3 pm) and Friday to Sunday (9 am/11 am/3 pm).
- BATAAN TOUR PACKAGE – Please inquire at 09178329361 (Monday-Saturday, 8:30 am – 5:P30 pm) or visit their website mentioned above.
- An ART TOUR is coming soon.
Dining outlets include: (1) The Beach Bar; (2) Café del Rio – a tapas bar at Casa Sta. Rita; (3) Café Marivent at Casa New Manila – a Filipino-Spanish restaurant at the 2nd floor of the said casa; (4) Cusina ni Nanay Maria – a Filipino restaurant located at Casa Unisan; (5) La Bella Teodora at Basa Biñan – an Italian restaurant located at Casa Biñan; and, (6) La Parilla and Pica Pica – an open Filipino “street food and beverage” outlet located at Plaza de Castro. I enjoyed their turon, bibingka, puto bumbong and salabat.
Other activities are (but schedules/prices/venue may be changed, so inquire beforehand):
- Carabao Parade and Race – A colorful parade which starts at 4 pm at Gate 2 and extends to the Beach Area every Saturday and Sunday. A carabao race and a “palosebo” are also held at the Beach Area.
- Center of Filipino Arts and Culture – An exhibit at Casa Candaba, open daily from 9 am till 5 pm.
- Cockfighting – A famous Filipino pastime held every Sunday at 10am at the back of Casa Tondo.
- Cultural Show/Mini Fiesta – A show of traditional Filipino dances (maglalatik, singkil and tinikling) held every Saturday at Casa Hagonoy/Paseo de Escolta at 6 pm (sundown).
- Entertainment and Game Room – A room located at Casa Lubao, just a few steps away from Tulay ni Lola Basyang which offers billiards, darts and other board games free of charge, open daily, from 7 am till 7 pm. Contact a Game Coordinator for Filipino games like: patintero, piko, sipa or sungka. Casa Lubao also offers fish feeding for 50 pesos.
- Fotografia de la Escolta – A professional in-house photography studio where you can schedule a photoshoot wearing the traditional baro’t saya or barong.
- Music Shop – A guitar and ukulele shop located at Paseo de Escolta (beside Fotografia de la Escolta).
- Napiya Spa – The in-house spa and wellness center located at Paseo de Escolta (Room 212) which offers the traditional Filipino massages like “bentosa”, “dagdagay” and “hilot”. It is open from 10 am till 9 pm.
- Pocket Performance – A performance held at the Tanghalang Tasulok every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 9:30 am/11:30 am/2:30 pm/4:30 pm.
- Sunday Mass – A Catholic mass held at the church called Santuario de San Jose every Sunday at 10:30 am.
- Swimming Pool and Beach Area – A “batis”-inspired swimming pool open daily from 7 am till 9 pm; the Beach Area is open from 6 am till 6 pm daily.
- Water Activities – Activities such as banana boat, boat ride, island hopping, jet ski, kayaking and wakeboarding, subject to weather and current conditions. Make it to Yasa Point for a zip line ride, ATV ride, mountain biking and wall climbing for the younger members of your family.
This property is part of Historic Hotels Worldwide and part of the Conde Nast Jahansens Luxury Global Collection and Peninsula Hotel’s Pencities Luxe Guide. It is also the 2017 Asia Awards of Excellence winner.
Here are a few more information that might be helpful!
Casa Luna was built in 1850 and owned by Primitivo Novicio, the uncle of the famous Luna brothers: Gen. Antonio Luna and Juan Luna. It was originally located in Namacpacan (now Luna, La Union, named after the brothers). The house is symmetrically constructed and reflects the typical Ilocano stone house, with a “cochera” (a garage for carriages and “carrozas” as well as a storeroom for farm produce) at the ground floor, an “entresuelo” (a mezzanine for the servants), the main second floor for bedrooms, toilet and bath, the grand living room, kitchen, and an “azotea” (a flat roof/platform on the top of the house) at the back.
Casa Byzantina is a 3-storey, intricately designed “floral” stone house from Binonda, Manila, built in 1890 by Don Lorenzo del Rosario, using Neo-Byzantine and Neo-Mudéjar influences with elaborate and delicate embellishments. It was demolished in 2009 and transferred to Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.
Casa Mexico-Pampanga is a stone house from Mexico, Pampanga, was salvaged from a junk shop and reconstructed based on an old photograph.
Overall, this cultural escapade was memorable among my high school buddies. We had enough quality time to bond with each other amidst our leisurely strolls as well as “kalesa”/tram/jeepney rides. We had so many beautiful pictures to look back to in the years to come!
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