I’m one of those people who wish to be transported back in time, specifically, during the time the Philippines is under the governance of Spain. The Spanish occupation, in my opinion, is the highlight of our history, having been colonized for more than 300 years. I oftentimes wonder about the life in this rich, colorful, and tragic period of the Philippines.
Hence, I admire how some parts of our country preserved this vibrant past. The effort obviously was not in vain as the recent declaration of Vigan City as the new wonder city of the world. The effort extends even in Manila as you may see when you go to Intramuros. If however you want a glimpse of the past but you find Vigan too far and still you want to have a quick getaway from Manila, why not travel to Bataan and visit Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar? It’s approximately a 4-hour drive from Manila and there you will instantly be transported to the old glorious days of our country.
How to get to Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar?
- Take a bus going to Balanga Bataan via the Bataan Transit in EDSA, Corner Kaunlaran Street, Cubao. The terminal can be found inside the Five Star Bus Terminal. Transport fee is 200php and travel time is 3 hours.
- From Balanga Bataan Bus Terminal take a jeep going to Bagac. Inform the driver to drop you off at the nearest point going to Las Casas. Transport fee is 47php and travel time is around 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- From the nearest point going to Las Casas take a tricycle and inform the driver to drop you off at Las Casas. Transport Fee is 10php per head and travel time is 10 minutes.
What to do and expect at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar?
I’m fortunate that my friend, Karan from Ritz and Grace Travel and tours gave me a day tour voucher together with Marge of Coffeehan (That little Vigan Called Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar). Honestly, I didn’t have plans to visit this place anytime soon knowing that the rates here are expensive. So thank you, Karan, for making it possible!
From the moment that we entered the site, I told Marge that I loved the place. The view of old houses plus seeing people walking around wearing Baro at Saya, the guards donned in Guardia Sibil uniform, the kalesa, and hearing old music playing in the background gave me goosebumps.
We arrived early for the next scheduled tour so we decided to walk around the area. If I remember it correctly, the entire property is the home of 27 heritage houses found in different parts of the country. They were brought there stone by stone and plank by plank and have been rebuilt in the 40 hectares wide property. That’s how big the place is but currently, only 7 hectares of this place have been developed. To this date, the place is still under construction and development. I noticed that they are in the process of constructing a Tranvia or Tramvia (an electric street tram). It made me wish that it was already operational during our time of visit, it probably would have made our experience all the more enjoyable and exciting. I’m sure that would-be visitors who would get to ride the tramvia would enjoy the ride. This mode of transportation was famous in the old Manila but it stopped operation in 1902.
We heard from the tour guide some of the plans in the place including a local version of Gondola (a popular light flat-bottomed boat used on Venetian canals). With so much potential and things that are yet to be done, just imagine what this place would be like when it becomes fully operational. Filipinos and other tourists sure have something to look forward to when they go visit Bataan.Riding a Gondola in The Philippines? Why not!
Day tour Rates
The following shows their tour rates packages and schedule:
- Package 1 – 1,200php
- Welcome drinks
- 30 minutes to 1 hour guided tour of the Heritage Houses
- Entrance fee and use of beach area
- 1 lunch, afternoon snack, 2 tetra pack juices, 2 bottles of mineral water
- Vicinity map
- All taxes and service charge
- Package 2 – 850php (adult), 425php (child)
- Entrance fee with snacks
- Package 3 – 650php
- Entrance fee only
- 8:30 AM
- 9:30 AM
- 10:30 AM
- 11:30 AM
- 1:30 PM
- 2:30 PM
- 3:30 PM
- 4:30 PM
For more details visit their website Las Casas Filipinas.
TIP: For more comfortable tour please wear sandals or slippers instead of shoes. Once the tour started you need to take off your shoes every time you get inside to some heritage houses.
Once the tour begins, your guide shall describe to you a brief history of these old houses. Tours can be in English or Filipino, depending on the audience. I will not discuss here the history of each house so your curiosity will bring you there. Below are some of my favorite photos inside Las Casas.
Where to Eat at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar?
We had our lunch at La Bella Teodora an Italian-Spanish Restaurant found inside the resort. If you are on a tight budget eating here might hurt your wallet. The interior is elegant and will instantly give you an impression that they are serving pricey food. We ordered Quatro Formaggi Pizza (450php) and Pesto Pasta (410php). In all fairness, I loved their Pesto Pasta, and this is coming from a person who is hard to please when it comes to this kind of pasta. I can honestly say though that La Bella Teodera’s version is exceptional.
As much as possible I don’t want to include a pinch of criticism about Las Casas but as a blogger, I feel like I have the responsibility, to be honest as much as I can in all my reviews. When I made the payment I used my debit card but the staff returned the card to me saying that the payment didn’t go through. I ended up paying in cash. However, when I checked with my bank they reported that payment has been deducted from my account. I immediately got back with Las Casas to confirm this. Unfortunately, the Las Casas were too slow to coordinate the matter with me. They even told me that it’s no longer in their hands and that the matter is just between me and my bank. I find this answer disappointing because first of all, it is in their resto that this incident occurred, so how could they tell me that this is no longer of their concern?
Until now this matter is yet to be resolved. I am not going to discourage anyone from eating at La Bella Teodora, but if you do, I highly suggest you pay in cash so you don’t have to deal with this kind of issue. And I certainly hope that the Las Casas management will help resolve these kinds of matters with their customers. The place is so beautiful to just be ruined with this kind of thing.
Other things to do in Bataan
If you still have the time to explore the rest of Bataan, here are some of the things that you can do:
- Visit Mount Samat National Shrine
- Explore a piece of our history at Bataan World War II Museum
- Check the sea turtles at Pawikan Conservation Center
- Eat and drink at The Beanery – A cafe and restaurant that is proudly Bataan. I super love the ambiance plus their Turtle Cake.
I commend the developer of Las Casas for having this kind of concept that rebuilds heritage site so our generation and the future will have a glimpse of how truly rich our history is. It’s a relief to see that Las Casas is preserving our golden past after seeing news of planned demolition to some of the old buildings in Manila. If a private sector can protect our heritage houses and buildings, I wonder why our government cannot do the same or, at least, lacks the effort to do so.
So for a piece of Old Spain in the Philippines, visit Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar. Visit Bataan! #BataanNa