The sun was intimidatingly hot when we had our Heritage Tour at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan. I wish I owned a wide-brimmed hat like our tour guide. I wonder why this type of head wear is not popularly used in the country today? It used to be in the olden days and I understand why since it is so hot in the Philippines and it is more convenient than holding an umbrella. Hmmm, I predict that wide-brimmed hats will gain traction in the coming years. Remember you read it first here! These hats are going to be big in the Philippine fashion industry, hehe. Oh right, this is not a fashion blog =p.Going back, I describe Las Casas to be a big outdoor historical and experiential museum. It is owned by Jerry and Tess Acuzar, an architect and an interior designer, respectively. It is unique as far as the museums I have been to are, which are still very few =p. So I don’t know if this is one of a kind in the world. It is a collection of old houses harvested from different places in the country.
Harvested? Well, I thought that is the best word to describe the process of carefully dismantling the houses from their original locations and re-assembling them in a new place. If you are an architect or a contractor, you probably have a technical term for this. I’d love to know so please comment below. Everything is not original though. There are also many replications in parts and some in entirety.The houses are named after the places they were acquired from. The house photographed above is called the Casa Luna because it came from Luna, La Union where Antonio and Juan Luna were from. You guessed right (if you did) that the town was named after them =D. It is used to be called Namacpacan.Aside from houses, they also feature other infrastructure like the Sanctuario de San Jose, a church (above); Paseo de Escolta, a commercial strip (below); and Hotel de Oriente (far below).
More than anything, I would have to say that this place is actually a resort. It is located by the ocean. It has a couple of swimming pools and a man-made lake. Most of the houses have rooms that can be rented for overnight stay, conference rooms and restaurants; while only few of the houses are actually open for exhibit.
Nonetheless, it was a very informative tour that I can recommend to anyone especially students. I believe they can make sense of their Philippine history classes more if they come here. Instead of malls or amusement parks for field trips, schools please include this in your “educational” tours’ itinerary. It is also a perfect destination for an educational family bonding this summer.
The entrance fee which includes a welcome drink (which we didn’t get), use of beach and cold towel, is quite pricey at Php999.00 per person. I believe schools can negotiate for dramatically lower prices because of their huge bargaining power. Better yet, the management of Las Casas should come up with an appropriate package. Just saying =p. Las Casas is apparently positioned as a high end destination but still, it is best if more could see it. After all, this place is about Philippine culture and heritage. More should have access.The place is undergoing expansion right now and there were several structures that were not yet part of the tour like these Maranao houses pictured above which we were only able to view from afar. It is a one and a half hour walking tour by the way; with occasional climbing of stairs. They rent out golf carts for those who can’t walk that long for Php700.00. However, my husband’s grandmother, who is 89 years old, decided to just sit it out to avoid additional expenses. There are also other transportation options to try for experience like the kalesa below and a tranvia that goes around the resort. Sadly, I was not able to capture the latter in a photo.
Most of the houses featured in this place were from rich families, a small minority in this country. Hence, it was refreshing to see the simple house from Cagayan shown below. It is also good to note that most of the houses here were designed with their living quarters on the second floor. The ground floors were either for parking or animals. We can learn from the architecture of these old houses! How come they were more adapted to the geography of the Philippine archipelago than we are now? We have obviously developed backwards as far as this particular concept goes. These houses are better prepared for flooding!
Casa Binan or Casa Alberto pictured above deserves a special mention in this post because it is where the murder of Antonio Luna in the film Heneral Luna was shot. They also brilliantly juxtaposed this particular scene with Juan Luna’s painting of the Spoliarium, just wow! At this point, allow me to side track more and share a little bit. Many Filipinos paid to watch this film in cinemas, which was a rarity for local movies as such.
Unfortunately, one of the most striking messages of the movie – the importance of self-discipline did not get through with many of the movie watchers. The movie house my husband and I watched in brimmed with trash. The lights turned on and people just left their trash behind, without hesitation and without shame.
It angered me to tears. I left in resignation but I had to come back in, not really knowing why =(. I just stood there and stared at the apparent apathy and neglect. I felt small, helpless and useless. How can we not know that littering is UNACCEPTABLE! We don’t need to be schooled to know this. It’s supposedly instinctive, right?
Sorry for being carried away but I just had to air that out. The Heritage Tour obviously excited my nationalism =p! Rightly so, I believe this is the bigger purpose of places like Las Casas (and movies like Heneral Luna). History is supposed to inspire us to love our country more, avoid the mistakes of the past and continue what works. We should allow our past to light our path as a nation and change us as we move forward into the future…please?Casa LubaoCasa Jaen