Plastered on their brochure, visiting Las Casas de Filipinas boasts that you will “Experience history come alive in a 19th century Hispanic town.” I didn’t know exactly what expect when from this place. This particular lakwatsa was a very pleasant surprise.
A few weeks ago, while have dinner with some friends, I was asked if I had ever been to Las Casas in Bataan. I had heard about this place several times this past year. Travel gods Ivan Man Dy and Ivan Henares told me about this place some months back where houses from all over the Philippines were being purchased and transported to another location. My kuya in turn told me that there is this town being built resembling an old Spanish town. Apparently they were all referring to the same place. Anyway, my friends and I decided that we would spend 10/10/10 on a road trip to Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in the town of Bagac, Bataan.
View Las Casas de Filipinas, Bataan in a larger map
Before any trip, I usually scour the internet for information on my destination. So I browsed their website at http://www.lascasasfilipinas.com. Though I must say that the frustrating aspect of their website is that, when you click on the tab for “Location.” Aside from mentioning the town of Bagac, Bataan, it offers no directions whatsoever on how to get there.
Thank God for Google Maps. Of course my Escape was also equipped with a GPS.
Getting there is pretty simple. Here it is in a nutshell. From Manila take NLEX northbound. Exit Dau then take the onramp to SCTEX. Head south towards Subic but exit at Dinalupihan. Follow the SCTEX exit then turn right towards Balanga, Bataan. Follow the signs heading to Bagac. When you get to Bagac, follow the signs to Las Casas de Filipinas.
The whole trip, give or take will take you 2.5 to 3 hours at a leisurely pace.
Not exactly an uneventful trip
It was one of those days. While the trip was fairly pleasant. It was wrought with a few minor disasters. After assembling the group, as we left Quezon City, we realized that the Lakwatsero Mobile’s air conditioner was on the fritz. In short, it wasn’t cooling. I accidentally took the off ramp to Dau… then while along SCTEX I ran over a dog crossing the road (ok, it wasn’t intentional… he ran in front of us). Then as we were traversing the provincial road, a chicken flew right into the grill of the Ford Escape. The chicken caused more damage than the dog.
Arriving at Las Casas de Filipinas
When we got there, we passed through two guard houses, parked the car then headed to the “office” to register and pay for fees. Everyone was very accommodating and very nice… and in our case, patient. They explained the rates for people wanting to stay overnight, and in our case, on a day trip. For Day Trippers they offered the following fees: P650 entrance fee, or pay P1000 which includes a 1 hour tour and a plated lunch. Supposedly for P1200 you can opt for a a buffet (but the buffet wasn’t available apparently). If we went for just the P650 entrance, the restaurant did offer some ala cart offerings. When we later looked at the prices in the menu, let me say that the P1000 Day Tour package is well worth the price.
We started our tour with our very nice tour guide Ericka, as she took us through 20 ancestral houses from all over the Philippines. The houses are named after the place where they originated. The “office” was in Casa Mexico (above photo) which came from Mexico Pampanga.
The entire property sits on around 400 hectares of private land, where only 40 hectares are developed.
The above photo is of Casa Lubao from Lubao Pampanga.
Some of the homes, especially the ones for rent to families were adequately furnished. Many of the rooms we saw had some furnishings.
The streets are quite wide and clean. Everything seemed to be quality work. Even the lamp posts. Nothing seemed cheap.
One of the buildings we entered (below) was supposedly the first building used by the University of the Philippines. Casa Hidalgo.
As we proceeded through the town, I just kept on taking pictures of the place. It was certainly a great photographer’s heaven. In fact, aside from the 4 of us, it seemed like other 20 guests we saw were all photographers. One big group seemed like a big photo club.
Awesome work on the landscaping.
Inside Casa Lubao
Oh cool… Kalesas
Below, at Casa Cagayan is actually their spa.
The hotel, Casa Baliuag II
Tired and extremely hungry… we had lunch
I went for the lechon kawali… “in fairness” it was good!
The set meal came with soup and desert as well.
After lunch we walked around some more then went back to the restaurant
Much to our surprise. Our tour included a snack meal as well which was a choice of Halo Halo, or an assortment of sandwiches. We all went for the Halo Halo.
All in all, the trip was quite fascinating. I was quite skeptical about a town built from old houses from different parts of the Philippines. I am aware that there are some factions that are not happy with what the owner did… taking ancestral homes from their original locale and transplanting them elsewhere. While I understand and appreciate the concern. I can also see that at least here, in their new home, they won’t just fall to neglect and rot away. Here, they can be appreciated.
The place is still being developed. As a resort, they don’t offer very much right now. They are building a new “front” gate and a church (built from scratch). They are also putting up another controversial house. The old home of Jose Rizal’s Mother’s Mother.
(above map is from their website at http://www.lascasasfilipinas.com). The also give a big folded paper map when you get there.
It was a great lakwatsa for myself and my friends, Christian Aquino, RJ Bumanglag, and Binggoy de Ocampo. What a way to spend 10/10/10.
I highly recommend you consider visiting this place.
Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar
Batangay Pag-asa, Bagac, Bataan