The glorious days of the Philippines in the 18th century might be a bygone era by now. We are enjoying too much the modernity of our architectural structures that most of us have already forgotten about our rich cultural heritage. But did you know that there is a place in Bataan that will take you back in time, to the days of our great great grandparents? Yes, and it is called Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar!
Located at Brgy. Ibaba, Bagac, Bataan, Las Casas is a sprawling complex showcasing Filipino history and craftsmanship with its more than 30 traditional houses. I was surprised to learn that these houses were carefully dismantled and transplanted from different locations in the Philippines like Manila, Quezon City, Bulacan, Pampanga, La Union, Ilocos, Cagayan and Mindanao. You would really be amazed how the developers transported the said houses brick -by-brick and plank-by-plank to its present home.
Last March 5, 2017, I had the opportunity to visit and spend a night at Las Casas together with four fellow officers of the bank where I am currently employed. We went there on a Saturday and the place is filled with a number of visitors as Las Casas offers day tour package with Heritage Walk as the highlight. Since we are staying for one night, we availed one of its traditional houses as our accommodation. Their Deluxe Room rate starts at 7,000 pesos for two persons while their Casa Bizantina House which can accommodate maximum of 16 persons costs 150,000 pesos. We availed the Casa Binondo 1 which we have booked already several weeks before our arrival and we paid 21,000 pesos.
From the name itself, the two-storey Casa Binondo 1 is a replica of traditional houses in Binondo, Manila, considered to be the oldest Chinatown in the world. Outside, it looks old, made of bricks and wood, and it makes me feel I was in the house of my grandparents in Bohol. The interior is very spacious with only few decorations and my nose sensed some musty-mothy-moldy smell because of the old furniture. There is one room in the first floor and two more upstairs. While the overall look of the house is antique, the three rooms are modernized that have individually controlled air-conditioning system. Likewise, each room has flat LCD cable TV, shower cubicle with hot running hot and cold water, hair dryer, refrigerator, mini bar, telephone/intercom, coffee and tea-making facility, complimentary bottled water and Wi-fi access. There is also a veranda in my chosen room where the view of a rice field and Mt. Mariveles can be enjoyed.
Our package included the Heritage Walk and complimentary breakfast. We joined in the last session of the tour and it was a worthy activity where we got to learn the stories and secrets of each heritage house. The tour guides themselves are already attraction because they are well-versed, very enthusiastic and know the history of the different bahay na bato (stone houses) by heart.
Las Casas is more majestic at night. Walking in the brick pavements with the old lamp posts around gave me the feeling of being in another place and another century. There are several restaurants in the whole place and we chose Cafe Marivent which caters Filipino-Spanish buffet cuisine. It is in the middle of magnificent old houses where dining is more fun and relaxing while being serenaded with kundiman (Filipino folk songs) by two singers dressed in traditional Filipino clothing.
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