Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar: Philippine Heritage Village
I was instantly trapped in a time warp when I entered the brick gate of Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar. It was a spellbinding experience to be in a village filled with huge houses in colonial architecture. No metal skycrapers, no flashy neon signs & blinking marquees, just a quaint town reminiscent of 19th century Philippines.
The New San Jose Builders, Inc opened the gates of Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac, Province of Bataan to showcase to the world the ancestral homes in the Philippines. Situated in Barangay Pag-asa in Bagac, just 3 hours drive from Manila, this legacy village is a history walk-through showing principalia mansions, bahay na bato & indio-stilt houses set on a majestic 400 hectare private property.
To date, only a few Spanish colonial houses are left in the country. Earthquakes, fires & floods have destroyed many of them. Some are abandoned or just left to decay because of dwindling family fortunes & some are forced to give way to the inevitable domination of vertical landscapes.
Lucky are the families who have sustained their generations of wealth because they are able to keep their ancestral houses either as their current day living spaces or have turned it into private museums. However, some cannot survive & even the government cannot rescue because of the lack of funds to refurbish them. The New San Jose Builders Inc, bought these houses from their latest owners & transfer them to Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, fully restored & gloriously shining.
Carefully, these structures are tore down into pieces & rebuilt brick-by-brick, plank-by-plank. It is a high engineering task to break these into parts without causing damage to the original structure & transporting it to its new home. Its reconstruction takes painstaking planning with experts on history & architecture specialists. As each house reemerge from its decaying state into a fresh & restored look, history also starts to re-unfold & stories of our illustrious past are retold.
CASA HIDALGO. Commonly called as Enriquez Mansion owned by Rafael Enriquez. Built in 1867 in its original location in Hidalgo St., Quiapo, Manila. Reconstructed in 2006. During the Spanish regime, this was considered to be the most elegant in the entire country. Designed by Felix Roxas y Arroyo, the first Filipino to practice architecture. In 1909, it was used as the first campus of the University of the Philippines School of Fine Arts where the finest artists like Juan Luna, Felix Hidalgo, Fernando Amorsolo, Guillermo Tolentino, Emilio Alvero, Carlos Francisco & Tomas Mapua were trained. In 1927, sadly the house transformed into a bowling alley, dormitory & sex live shows until it decayed.
CASA VYZANTINA. It is also popular as the Byzantine House, a classic example of Bahay na Bato at the corner of Madrid & Penarubia Streets in Binondo, Manila. Built in 1890 by Don Lorenzo del Rosario, a native principalia. From 1914 – 1919, the house was leased out to Instituto de Manila to hold elementary & high school classes. Until the end of World War II, the house was leased to various tenants. Until 2009, the house was home to 50 squatters. The structure was typical of bahay na bato where the ground storey is built of stone & bricks where the upper storeys are built of various Philippine hardwood. It is representative of floral bahay na bato where delicate embellishments influenced by Neo-Mudejar style. However, that style traces its origins in the Byzantine style.
CASA LUBAO. Constructed in 1920 in its original location in Lubao, Pampanga originally owned by Arastia/Vitug families. Inspired in American period plantation houses, it has a large balcony with iron grills & large windows. Its elaborate exterior details speak of the owners of the house, an influential clan in Lubao, relatives of whom included the family of former President Diosdado Macapal. Reconstructed in 2006.
CASA JAEN. Owned by the Esquivel Family of Jaen, Nueva Ecija, this ancestral home served as the residence of the first Mayor of Jaen. Reconstructed in Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in 2007. This house is another typical Bahay na Bato with its ground floor made of stone as a protection from earthquakes. In 1870, curved roof tiles was not allowed, instead galvanized iron sheets were used as added protection from earthquakes.
CASA UNISAN. Built in 1839 in Unisan, Quezon for Antonio Maxino. This claims to be the first Bahay na Bato in Quezon. It is composed of two main structures of almost equal size. The sala & the cuartos are in the larger structure; the comedor, kitchen & azoteo in smaller structure. The main staircase that terminates in the caida on the second floor fuses the two structures. It is characterized by heavy roofing system that needs to stabilized by king posts. Reconstructed in 2007.
CASA MEXICO. The materials used in the construction of Mexico house came from the salvaged materials bought from the junkshop. Originally standing in Mexico, Pampanga, this house was built based on an old photograph which the owner used in reconstructing the house.
CASA LUNA. It is the famous residence of the Luna Brothers, Antonio & Juan. Built in 1850 in La Union & reconstructed in 2007. It was originally owned by the Novicio Family with whom, Laureana Novicio the mother of the famous brothers belongs. It then became the ownership of Santoromana Family. The immense symmetrical house was constructed on a square plan typical of Ilocano Bahay na Bato. The ground floor is used as cochera for the carriages & bodega for their harvests. Casa Novicio has played an important rendezvous in our history especially during the liberation period.
CASA BALIUAG. Originally located within the compound of Iglesia ni Kristo in Baliuag, Bulacan. Some of the striking architectural details in ancestral houses in Baliuag are its elaborate adobe carvings & intricate wood carvings at its bandejas (wood sidings).
CASA CAGAYAN. During the early 1900s in Cagayan Valley, these houses were considered to be Poor Man’s houses. It is typically built on stilts with three trunks in its natural shape used as columns, in order to give its residents extra space for relaxation, storage & livelihood activities.
CASA MEYCAUAYAN. Originally constructed in 1913 in San Fernando, Pampanga owned by the Escota family. In the 1950s, Rogelio Urrutia reconstructed the house in Meycauayan, Bulacan using exactly the same design & materials. Constructed out of adobe stone on the ground floor & various hardwood on the second floor. The house is generally a classic example of passive cooling ventilation such as continuous media aguas (lower eaves) & ventinillas (lower windows).
CASA CANDABA. The mansion was originally owned by the Reyes family in Candaba, Pampanga. It was built in 1780 & was reconstructed in 2005. The Spanish Gobernador Heneral also used the house as his residence whenever visiting Pampanga. It may appear to be just as a study & simple house on the outside but on the inside, its neo-Gothic influence is as elaborate as the other houses. The last known owner of the house was Estanislao Reyes in 1941.
By Bus – Take Bataan Transit or Genesis Bus Line from Pasay or Avenida Stations. Drop at Pilar, Bataan Junction. Take the mini-bus to Bagac (about 33kms away). From the bus station, take the Trike to bring you to Brgy. Pag-asa.
By Private Vehicle – From Manila, take the North Luzon Expressway & exit at San Fernando, Pampanga. Follow the southwest directions to Olongapo. At Layak Junction, turn left to take you all the way to Bataan, passing through the towns of Orani, Abucay & Balanga. Straight ahead, turn right at the junction of Ala-uli in Pilar. Straight ahead, about 33kms away is the town of Bagac with the Philippines-Japan Friendship Tower as its landmark. Take the left side road & follow the signage that leads you to interior part of Bagac & to Brgy. Pag-asa.
Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar also provides a luxurious accommodation for guests staying for the night. Casa Escolta, a full hotel service is designed in the likeness of early 1900s buildings in Escolta, Manila. It is managed by Genesis Heritage Resort, making each guest experience how it was to live in old Manila feel.
Room rates ranges from P3,825/night to P7,225/night depending on your choice of accommodation.
Day Tour Rates
Package 1 – P1,000/person (inclusive of set lunch & snack)
Package 2 – P1,200/person (inclusive of buffet lunch & snack)
All packages are also inclusive of welcome drinks, guided tour of the heritage houses, use of the beach area & printed descriptions of each houses.
Las Casas Sales & Reservations Office
Mezzanine Floor, Victoria Towers, Timog Avenue, Quezon City
+63 2 3325338; +63 2 3325286
Some text in the description of each house is taken from the printed Tour Guide, otherwise, its very thick literature would be impossible to memorize.
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