Monday, June 2, 2014

Bataan: Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar

A heritage resort full of old Spanish houses in Bagac, Bataan. 

Casa Meycauayan. One of my favorite pictures of the heritage houses. The sculptures of children playing in the lawn truly complete this house. This house was originally built in 1913 and was initially in San Fernando Pampanga.

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar is a town that time forgot. It truly is, in a sense, a throwback to a time when the Spanish influence was very much the norm in our little Pearl of the Orient. This heritage resort located in Bagac, Bataan patterns itself after Spanish towns of old and reminds us of a time where sprawling cobble stone streets, gas lamps and old stone and wooden houses were a common sight in the Philippines.



Las Casas is probably the only heritage resort of its kind in the Philippines because the structures you see in these pictures are not fabricated, rather, they were painstakingly bought in Manila or elsewhere, dismantled, transported and rebuilt brick-by-brick in their new home in Bagac, Bataan.

The architectural references and cultural preservation contained in this resort is amazing. Every house is different and each one has a story to it. Spread over the 400 hectare property are around 40 period houses mostly from the Spanish colonial period that each have unique features that set them apart from one another. The majority of these houses can also be rented and lived in to truly immerse the visitor in the cultural charm that is a trademark of the place. To bolster these vintage living quarters, the resort also serves as home to wide plazas with beautiful sculptures and ponds, a swimming pool, a beach, 2 restaurants (one Spanish and one Italian), a church (being constructed) and a conference center (being constructed.)

In my opinion, the real beauty of this places comes out in the evening when the streets are lit and the buildings are aglow with beautiful brass-y light. It was then that I was truly able to image as if I was walking down quiet cobblestone streets to my peaceful home made of wood and stone.
 
Plaza Atienza. This is the main plaza that greets you as you enter from the stone arch seen in the far left of the picture. The reception building can be found on the right side of the picture.


Plaza Atienza and Paseo de Escolta. This is probably one of Las Casas trade marks. These sculptures of children playing in the main square are a nice touch to the old Spanish town feel.


Casa Binan. This old house was reportedly built in the 16th century and has the proud title of being owned by Jose Rizal's mother. Aside from being owned by our national hero's mother, the house was converted into a cinema in the 20th century, and then again into a bank and then an office space and finally into a supermarket.

It's wild transformations through the years led to rapid deterioration which eventually led the then owner to donate this fine house to Las Casas for restoration.

Casa Binan now serves as the home of the Italian restaurant named La Bella Teodora. (In my opinion, this Italian restaurant is way better than the Spanish restaurant.)

La Bella Teodora or the Italian Restaurant of Las Casas. Prices per head are around Php 350 each. Very good service. Food was good but nothing exceptional. 



Paseo de Escolta. This complex is where the majority of the single hotel rooms are located. This strip is a replica of typical buildings in Escolta, Manila during the early 1900's.

Aside from housing the hotel rooms, the Paseo also has a Business Center, Sari-sari store, souvenir shop and a photography shop.


Casa Bizantina by night. This house was a 'bahay na bato' house in Binondo, Manila during the 1890's. Most notably, this place served as the Instituto de Manila circa 1910.

Oh and if you're wondering, bikes can be rented out so that you can explore the huge property on wheels
.



Directions & Location:


Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar is located in Brgy. Pag-asa, Bagac, Bataan, Central Luzon, Philippines which is around a 3 hour and 30 minute drive from Manila.



Based on the Las Casas website, there are a number of ways to get there:

By Land:
Bataan is accessible via the Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) and Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX). There are buses running direct to Balanga town proper. Balanga Town proper is about 125 kms. northwest from Manila. From Olongapo City, you may take the Victory Liner Buses. Tricycles and jeepneys are the primary modes of transport around Bataan.

By Air:
You may go through the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark, Pampanga or through the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminals in Manila and make the necessary land transfers.

Las Casas Filipinas is located 20 kilometers away from the Mt. Samat Shrine. From the Japanese Friendship Tower in Bagac, turn left and the resort is 2 kilometers away.

Contact Number:


You can contact their Manila office for reservations and inquiries at:

Office Address: Mezzanine Floor Victoria Towers Timog Avenue, Quezon City,
Philippines

Phones: +63 2 332 5338 & +63 2 332 5286

Rates:


 (Click on the photos below to enlarge.)

As of this writing on June 2, 2014, these are the published rates. I recommend the Studio Deluze Room in Paseo de Escolta. Beautifully furnished room good for 2-3 with shower, bathtub, split type air conditioning and LCD TV.

 


Notes: 


*Based on numerous reviews and our personal experience, the Italian restaurant La Bella Teodora is way better than the Spanish restaurant. Just expect to pay Php 350.00 per head at the resto. Good service and ambiance. But no or poor airconditioning. The numerous fans around the resto help though.You do not need to be in formal ware to dine here. 

**Breakfast is provided free for most rooms. But it is a 'portioned buffet style' in the al fresco area near the pool. Food is normal Filipino fare but the servings can be quite small and it will be hot outside come 9-11 AM.

***Complimentary drink upon arriving of Sago't Gulaman is freakishly small and overly sweet and is served to you in a tiny plastic cup. They should improve this.

****During our stay there, it was extremely hot! I don't know whether it's because of the summer (May) or of the proximity of the beach but be sure to dress for the occassion. 

*****Walking tour of the complex has three set schedules for the day. It is extremely hot to take the mid morning ones. Opt for the late afternoon.

******Sunset is extremely beautiful since Las Casas is facing the West. Too bad I wasn't able to get a picture. Biggest red orb of the sun I've seen in awhile. 

*******Monitor Deal Grocer for good deals at this resort. They frequently have discounts posted on Deal Grocer. 

*******You can visit Mt. Samat (World War II Memorial) on your way home.It's about an hour's drive away).



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