At times, unplanned trips turn out to be liberating, euphoric and sweet. When asked to go on a long drive, I agreed to it without thought. Where to? Anywhere! Then the rational exchange follows…Let’s go north, which is opposite our workplace. With consideration to the designated driver, a three-hour drive will probably take us to Bataan. I recall something that I came across in a travel magazine, Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan. And so finding it becomes our goal.
Opt for the scenic route that feels like being transported into an Amorsolo painting – take the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and then the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) Subic bound. Cut across Subic Bay Freeport Zone (Make sure you abide traffic rules by making a 5-second full stop in every stop sign.) and head south, staying on Tipo Expressway and exit to Morong, Bataan thru Maritan Highway. Drive on the national road. Next town is Bagac. Look for the Philippine-Japanese Friendship Tower and turn to the secondary road that leads to the shore of South China Sea. If you think you no longer know where you’re at or where you’re going, simply ask the locals. You’ll find Bataan people very accommodating.
A visionary from the Acuzar clan has transformed its 400-hectare land into a living museum. Señor Acuzar’s passion for Philippine heritage is expressed in a grand manner. Spanish colonial structures in the 1800s and from different parts of the country are restored and re-built here. Houses made of stone and wood. Capiz windows. Ornate iron works. Hand-painted ceilings.
Las Casas Filipinas offers a walk-in tour at PHP650. A guardia civil welcomes you at Gate 1 and as he speaks to his comrade in his walkie-talkie, he instructs you to park at Gate 2. Pay the appropriate fees and meet your guide in baro’t saya, who tells the story of each structure and of Filipino life back then, at the plaza in front of Casa Mexico. Straw hats are provided as protection from the sun whilst the tour as well as cold towels at the end. If you wish to enter a house, remember to leave your footwear at the doorstep. And if you wish to stay longer, you may check in at Paseo de Escolta or rent one of the casas. Ride on a horse-drawn carriage. Watch the cultural show. Wade in the pool. Venture into water sports. Learn and play traditional Filipino games. Or fly kites!
Find out more about this one-of-a-kind point of interest in Bataan @ http://www.lascasasfilipinas.com.