Heritage Tour of Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan

Saturday, July 01, 2017

If I could go back in time to wherever I wished, I would like to go back to the Spanish colonial era (1521 to 1898) and live in Manila. My fascination with the Spanish colonial era was first ignited when I first read Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, a class requirement when I was still in high school. These novels, written by our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, are some of the most important literary works in the Philippines. Over a hundred years after these novels were written, its message is still relevant to us Filipinos. I fell in love with these novels because Rizal wrote them in order to expose the ugly political or religious backdrop during the Spanish colonial era.
Heritage Tour courtesy of Bataan Tourism and Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar
I want to go back in time so I could see Manila in its once glorious self. I want to know how life once was, back in the days when technology is all still unheard of. I want to see the beautiful Manila, but I also want to see with my own eyes the repression, inequality and torture that my ancestors experienced everyday for 300 hundred years.
Sanctuario de San Jose (Balanga Church) Replica and tourists on a Balsa River Tour
While time travel is theoretically possible, but a time machine has not been invented yet, I figure a trip to Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar would suffice. If you’re a frequent visitor of my blog, you would know that I am a sucker for anything old and historical. So, when Bataan Tourism invited me to cover the 75th Araw ng Kagitingan with a side trip to Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, I said yes without hesitation. Lol!
Lia the Young Explorer :) Check out her adventures on her mom's Instagram account right here.
Las Casas Filipinos de Acuzar is a resort filled with collection of Spanish-era houses, which showcases Filipino artistry and craftsmanship. The resort owner José "Gerry" Acuzar, a business man and the Chairman of New San Jose Builders, has been buying out Spanish-era houses and bahay na bato from different parts of the Philippines since 2003. His men will take all the original construction materials of the houses, as long as they are still usable, then these materials will be transported to Bagac, Bataan for reassembling. 
La Puesta del Sol on Estero De Binondo
Opened to the public in 2010, most of its restored heritage houses cater to guests and day tour visitors. The resort offers the usual resort amenities, but with historical touch. They have a batis-inspired swimming pool, jeepney service, calesa rides, balsa river tours, Fotografia de la Escolta (a photo-shoot with our professional in-house photographer while wearing our traditional Baro’t Saya and Barong Tagalog), and many more. They also have three restaurants - Cafe Marivent, La Bella Teodora and Cafe del Rio. 
 the Venice-inspired canal of  Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar
Upon entering the gates of Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, I was taken back in time to the Spanish colonial era minus the sight of Maria ClarasPadre Damasos and Aliping Sagigilids (translated as slave). We were greeted by security guards dressed as Guardia Sibil, and staffs dressed in Barong Tagalog and Filipiniana Dresses.
some of the casas along the canal
Although I was never a fan of guided tours, the heritage walk conducted by Dexter was really great. We were introduced to each casas and we got a glimpse as to how each house came about. We also learned some of the stories about the heritage houses, some of them inspiring, some are tragic and haunting. Aside from historical stories behind the casas and its structures, we also learned who were behind the the artistic and cultural elements in the resort. 
that's our tour guide, Dexter, the fashion/lifestyle blogger Gus of GusVilla.com and my co-PTB member Angelo of Angelo the Explorer :)
The non-profit foundation, Bellas Artes Projects stationed in Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, helped support local artists from Bataan to infuse their skills with Filipino heritage building and techniques. We learned that the wood carvers, stone carvers, terra-cotta sculptors, painter, welders and brick makers were all from Bataan. Dexter also told us that the women were assigned in meticulous designs because women are patient. Couldn't agree more :)

so pretty but feels so empty T_T
I just can't recall the name of the casa T_T
Same with this one. I remember it is located across Casa Ladrillo. Anyone knows what's the name of this casa? T_T
some of the stone works along the canal
Casa Ladrillo, one of the casas that were turned into luxurious accommodations
the official jeepney service of Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar
one of the high ceiling rooms with antique-looking chandelier
Tulay ni Lola Basyang, a replica of the landmark Jones Bridge with the creepy creatures from Lola Basyang's stories.
look at the stone carvings in the ceiling! impressive, no?
Casa Lubao is a personal favorite. It was the "youngest" among the ancestral houses at Las Casas because it was constructed in the 1920s. Owned by Juanita Arrastia and her husband, Dr. Wenceslao Vitug, this casa is very significant because this was where Diosdado Macapagal worked when he was a child. Because he was intelligent and a hard working kid, the owners sent him to school. He later became the President of the Philippines. 
original floor of Casa Lubao in Pampanga
I love that the ceiling of every casas has so many details!
the front view of Sanctuario de San Jose (Balanga Church) Replica
The beautiful Casa Jaen, the second house of the Esquivel Clan from Jaen, Nueva Ecija. Jaen is the home town of my mother, so I was really surprised Casa Jaen's here. I was wondering why it was transferred/sold to Las Casas because the Esquivel Clan is very rich and they could easily afford to maintain their ancestral house. If I were a member of their clan, I would never agree to selling our ancestral house. Never.
That casa in the middle is Casa Byzantina, the biggest casa in Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, which can accommodate up to 16 guests.
 Casa San Miguel, one of the biggest casas in Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, which can house 12 guests. It also has a balcony and it is complete with a living room, a game room, and a dining area.
In spite of the controversy surrounding the transplanted houses in Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, I feel that relocating and restoring these casas is better than leaving these pieces of Philippine history in total ruin and destruction. Until there’s a government program dedicated for historical houses conservation, I think I would be okay with the resort’s practice. 
Again, I forgot the name of this casa T_T

So, that's how our day tour went in Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan. :) I did not expect to love Bataan as much as I eventually did when I first came to the province. To be fair, I did join a media familiarization trip, but opinion and experience remain my own. As always, thank you so much Bataan Tourism for making this trip possible! And thanks to my co-Pinoy Travel Bloggers who participated in this trip. You guys made this adventure one for the books!

More about Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar:
Heritage day tours start at 1,500 pesos inclusive of:
🌻Welcome drink
🌻30 minutes to 1 hour guided Heritage walking tour
🌻Entrance fee and use of beach area
🌻Vicinity map
🌻Cold towel
🌻All taxes and service charges

How to go to Las Casas:
🌍Take the Genesis Busis or Bataan Transit along EDSA Cubao (trip starts at 4:00am every 30 minutes) to Balanga Bus Station
🌍From the bus station, take the jeepney going to Bagac or Morong (Bagac-bound has a limited time while Morong-bound has a longer time)
🌍Upon reaching Bagac, get down at the Filipino Japanese Friendship Tower and go to the tricycle station
🌍Take tricycle going to Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar (Gate 5 entrance)
One way fare: approximately PHP 270+ per person

Contact Manila Reservation Office for more information: (02) 546-9123, (02) 332-5338, (02) 335-3032 and (02) 332-5286 or email reserve@lascasasfilipinas.com.

Have you been to Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar? Do you think it’s ethical for them to continue buying out houses and transplanting them to Las Casas? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Go to the comment sections below! :) 

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