Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Day 2: Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar

The next day, we walked to the Hotel de Oriente where the buffet breakfast was served then walked to Casa Binan for our 9:30 A.M. guided day tour. Make sure to wear comfortable foot wear which can be easily removed because the tour includes entering the different Casas. Most of them have two levels so this entails climbing shiny, nicely waxed (slippery!) wooden stairs to the upper floor. The tour guide took us to several old houses, regaling us with relevant information. One was converted into a museum, housed in Casa Quiapo. In Casa Luna, we were shown household items used during that era. They are situated far from each other so expect a lot of walking, climbing while listening to engrossing historical snippets.

Note: buffet breakfast and day tour is included in the promo room rate

Replica of the Balanga Cathedral

Casa Binan

steep staircase, slippery too!

Casa Binan: this locale was used in the movie "General Luna"

Portraits of some former residents of these old houses

Casa Quiapo: artifacts at the museum

Inside Casa Quiapo: Artifacts taken from afar since the area is enclosed

Casa Quiapo: Sculptor of an Aeta - our original ancestors

Dinner area in Casa Lubao

Casa Lubao: I love the ornate wood carvings in the ceilings;
they served as ventilation since there was no electricity back then

Casa San Miguel: A more 'modern' yet still ancient interiors 

Casa Baliuag

Casa Luna: guide explaining the functions of some household items

Casa Luna: the house of the uncle of the Luna brothers

Melchora Aquino aka Tandang Sora

Hotel Oriente: if you look closer on the lower left side is the balsa

cobblestone roads everywhere

palm trees near the beach

swings fronting the beach

path way leading to the hotel

On the left are replicas of Marawi houses still being built

Casa Quiapo

Hotel de Oriente

Friday, January 17, 2020

Day One: Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, Bagac, Bataan

On September 12, 2019 - The hubby blurted out "Let's go to Las Casas for my birthday" (September 28). What???!! Goodness gracious, me!!! I was in luck, they had a rainy day promo rate but it was cheaper during weekdays. So I asked him about his schedule, a couple of phone calls later, 2 thumbs up! Done with quick lunch & church visit in Balanga, Bataan - it was time to head for Bagac. It took us another hour & a half to get there. Once you see the Philippine Japanese Friendship Tower, you'd know you are nearing Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.  

Philippine - Japanese Friendship tower
The path leading to the resort is a dusty rough road, until you see the arch and the security outpost where they check your reservation/booking, register your car. Once cleared, you head to Casa New Manila, the reception area, unload your pieces of luggage/bags to check in. 

While the driver, in this case, my hubby had to go out again to park the car in an open air area near the arch, take the jeepney to return to the reception. They don't allow private cars inside the premises. It was still early (check in time: 3 P.M.) so we were given a map of the premises and told the jeepneys are the only mode of transport in the resort or we could explore on foot. It was a warm September day, and a bit tired from exploring those churches earlier, we hopped on a jeep and got off near Casa Binan to be awed by the replicas of beautiful old houses. Me, ready with my umbrella, my cooling towel, my portable electric fan & the map. :D

The tram is no longer operational although there are still
several rail tracks on the cobblestone roads

After resting a bit in our room, we changed (I showered) then went to the beach area which is just in front of the hotel. Waited for the sunset, made "tampisaw", slathered with sun screen lotion and just taking in God's wonders on earth.

Poor quality of this picture doesn't do
justice to the breathtaking sunset

We booked a balsa tour for 6:30 P.M and it was just the two of us with a tour guide + the boatman. The balsa has a long table in the middle surrounded by two rows of benches across each other on top of a flat wooden surface. It was a bit noisy, due to the engine but the ride was smooth. She narrated the history of the place, its owner Jerry Acuzar is a real estate developer who wanted to preserve our rich heritage. Some descendants of the owners of the houses gave him permission so he transported the houses, brick by brick to Bagac. While other families did not agree so he built replicas. She reiterated the importance of the river in the older days as it served as  source of food, trinkets even furniture. Merchants in small boats would peddle their wares on the river; residents would drop the payment in a basket, dangling by the back side of their houses.

Part of the tour is to go inside Casa San Juan which was owned by a police chief in Batangas. One has to remove any foot wear to enter any Casa to maintain its cleanliness. I was quite impressed by the intricate wood carvings inside the house. By the way, each house is named after the locale where it originated from. In this case, San Juan in the province of Batangas and not the one in Metro Manila. The stairs leading to the house has a replica mosaic of paintings by National Artist Vicente Manansala. 

Casa San Juan

View of the river from behind the hotel. 

During the tour, I noticed there were still several old houses being built amidst wide open spaces which could accommodate many more replicas. Balsa night tours come with a tour guide while the afternoon tours don't. It was a great idea to go for the evening tour as D, being a history professor was pleased that the tour guide was sharing ACCURATE historical snippets. Please excuse the low quality of the pictures as my iPhone does not capture night shots, well.

Balsa night tour: 300 pesos/ person. 

Monday, January 13, 2020

September 25, 2019: Five old Churches in Bataan

For my first post in this brand new year, I shall blog about a subject close to my heart: Old Churches or churches in general. It was mid September when the hubby blurted out "Let's go to Las Casas for my birthday" (September 28). This resort which features replicas of old houses reminiscent of our glorious past, a walk down history lane is located in the town of Bagac in Bataan. A province that is about 4 -5  hours drive from Metro Manila.

As with all of our road trips, it is a must we visit the old churches during our road trip. We were in luck as the 5 oldest churches in Bataan were situated along the National Highway on our route to Bagac, Bataan.

(1)  Our first stop after driving for almost 2 hours on the wide lanes of the NLEX (North Luzon Expressway), the traffic free & lovely view of the mountains on the SCTEX (Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway), and the mostly jeepneys & tricycles moderate traffic on Roman Super Highway (National Road) - Saint Peter of Verona Church (260 years old) Hermosa, Bataan.

It was a hot, sunny day! Here I am still fresh
looking, because it's still the early part of our road trip
(2) Just 15 minutes away is the Virgen Milagrosa del Rosario Church (306 years) in Orani, Bataan. It is in an enclosed area so we parked across it, in the area of the Municipal building of Orani. It was closed when we arrived as some wedding organizer was preparing inside but eventually it was open for the public.

Facade of the Church taken from across the street

Intricate carving on one of the main doors

(3) St. Catherine of Siena Parish (420 years) in Samal off the main road. With the help of Waze, it led us to a residential area. We parked on a side street and walked to the church. A few steps away, right in front of the ancient parish, there were many students engaged in some loud school event but the Church itself was closed. The good thing about traveling in the provinces is people are very accommodating. We talked to someone in the parish office, they allowed us to enter the Church through a side door. The facade is quite old but the interiors were perhaps renovated & not as old.

(4) Next in my list is the oldest church in the province of Bataan. Waze, though led us to a vacant lot along the National Highway. I believe we asked 4 to 6 people who all led us to different locations LOL. Then we asked a traffic enforcer and he kindly pointed us to the Santo Dominic de Guzman Church (428 years) in Abucay. It has a small parking area but the church was closed perhaps it was lunch time. Passing by a side door, we found a caretaker who graciously let us in for a few minutes so we could pray.

(5) The area within the St. Joseph Cathedral (302 years) in Balanga was closed. We had to circle several times, for a suitable parking slot. So we decided to have lunch at the nearby Max's Restaurant so we could park in their premises. We had chicken, as usual then made a quick hop over to the Cathedral which was just a few steps away. I have to mention though that the chicken at that particular Max's Restaurant looked and tasted very different from the ones we have here in the metropolis. It did not taste bad but its texture was more like the fried chicken one would normally eat at a Chinese restaurant. Strange! LOL

To end: Let us all continue to pray for the people residing in the provinces of Batangas, Cavite, Laguna & Rizal - massive devastation, total destruction from Taal Volcano's wrath. Even here in Quezon City, there is a thin layer of ash fall covering our car which unfortunately doesn't have a garage and is merely parked on the street, near our apartment. But, yes this is nothing compared to those directly and deeply affected from the raging & powerful volcanic eruption.

May God have mercy on us. Amen!