For Filipinos who have been away for so long, there’s a relatively new place you can visit upon your return. It blends Vigan, Intramuros and other historical tourist spots around the metro and the provinces, with a few modern luxury twists.
A family of architects rebuilt heritage houses from all over Luzon and transported them to historical Bataan, creating a vintage town that simulates days gone by.
If you could visit Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan, not only would you travel back to 18th century Philippines through Spanish houses and cobblestone roads, but feel the glory that was Manila and appreciate how our nationhood has been formed, or deformed, since then.
One of the casas, for instance, has been reconstructed from materials saved and bought from the junkshop. This house, the Mexico House, “was built based on an old photograph which the owner used in reconstructing the house,” says Las Casas website. Somewhere in the vast area also stands what used to be the Fine Arts building of the first campus of the University of the Philippines, the one in Manila.
Las Casas is like an open-air museum complete with hotel resort by the sea. Aside from walking heritage tours available all day, it features theme rooms for rent, uniquely designed swimming pool, beach amenities, European inspired bridge, recreated Escolta, classy Pinoy and foreign restaurants, and free cultural shows at night.
Quite a charmer, Las Casas has also preserved bits and pieces of Filipino idiosyncrasies and identities seen in everyday household knickknacks from the ancient ironing machine to gramophones and Chinese tea cups. Looking at these artefacts is simply enough to make you think how we created modernity and how modernity has been changing us.
As if to really bring guests to the past, all the staff of Las Casas are in character with their baro’t saya and camisa de chino. Costumes are available for rent, too, because the place is just perfect for photoshoots. In fact, weddings, receptions and other social functions are available for booking, which is priceless because if asked when you were married, you could say, Oh, I was married in the past century.
Executive, Deluxe and Studio (with Loft) Rooms are available at the Paseo de Escolta. Some of the heritage houses themselves can also accommodate guests. The casas range from 2-bedroom (8 pax) to 6-bedroom (12 pax). One special casa, however, stands out as it comes with round-the clock coffee and tea served with cookies and bread, cocktails and beverages, private library, Wi-Fi, and a butler: the Casa Bizantina.
One of the 1st three-storey commercial buildings of early 20th century is a seven-bedroom heritage house offering high-end accommodations with first class amenities and 24-hour butler service. The reception of the hotel features mosaic art paintings inspired by famous Filipino artists. (LasCasasFilipinas.com)
And since this is in Bataan, guests can also visit the 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, and the Pawikan Center.
Photos by Mike Asuncion
Written by: Ai Macalintal. Ai couldn’t stay in one place for too long, so she’s always walking, traveling or changing address. She’s been an editor in Singapore and has written for Aussie magazines, but penning stories about the Philippines delights her most.