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The Ultimate Time Travel at Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar

For my year-end post, it definitely has to be the grandest and the best place I'll saunter with you all this year: Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar. A massive monumental display of 27 (and counting) Spanish Colonial palacios salvaged from all over the Philippines then rebuilt in exactly the same fashion, with the exact original pieces of every mansion you'll witness within the next few minutes.
Truly, this is a day to remember. For this was the day I walked on homes, mansions, buildings, whatever you'd like to call them, that paved history of my country as well, some of these were once inhabited by Teodora Alonzo, our national hero's mother and even former president Manuel Quezon himself graced presence within the walls of one of these Casas.
The first landmark of the day: the arched entrance gate made with stone bricks, styled the same manner as 18th-19th century archs.
Alas, we finally get in! As you see before you, there are sculptures scattered all over the complex. They depict different scenes of the Philippine history: famous pinoy games they used to play back then, what they used to do during past times, or their usual day-to-day habit.
As an additional year-ender treat, I'll be incorporating Spanish terms in indented style. Have fun you guys! Vamos a ir!

Paseo de Escolta depicts the 1900's commercial scene at the ground floor & hosts 17 hotel rooms which can be booked for leisure vacations for one, twos & a whole familia or with your amigos
Walking closer, a beautiful view of an all-paved walkway, red-brick walls & columns, wrought iron & wood tables and chairs as well as signages.

A classic revival of a house number

If you notice well, the top of doors have either archs or in rectangular shaped grills designed iron or wood. They serve not only as decorations but also let in light during the day/night. Some have glasses at the back of the grill design to minimize sweeping in, while the grills without glass permit air to flow in for ventilation. 

Now let's get inside antiguo shop. A lot of these ornaments I have seen when I was at a very young age at my great abuelo's house in Magalang, Pampanga. I always looked very closely at the details but after a while, I got bored 'cause they were covered in dust and the colors faded.
Glass wares were a big part of that era. My grandmother had a lot of similar displays at our old house. At the age of 9 or 10, especially with the 20th century kicking in, only the elderly appreciated these designs. Mainly because a lot of new designs were out, much modern and more functional approach.
I love looking at beautifully decorated pieces. Probably the reason why I enjoy vintage collections now is because I used to enjoy them as a kid. I took them for granted but never again shall it happen.

Even the salesladies are dressed in simple Filipiniana clothing :)
More of Paseo de Escolta: the hotel rooms complete with wooden door passage and balconies. 
Simple tips to maximize your day tour at Las Casas:
1. Know what time the tour will start (be at least 10 mins. early for prep.)
2. If you came earlier than anticipated, maximize your idle time, walk around and let your eyes guide you to your next step. 
3. Once the tour starts, kindly listen to the tour guide, let your fingers snap all the way, don't think about how beautiful the shot will look after too much! Let the experience sink in.



This is Casa Luna, originally from Luna, La Union and owned by Novicio family in which Juan Luna's mother was part of. It has two different color palettes: the inferior floor mainly colored orange and gets more pale on its second level with colors of white and aqua/very light turquoise. It has a very soft color, like a cake. Don't let the fachada fool you though (will show you the rear part later).
As beautiful it is in the day, it might creep me out at nght. There's no lamp to light my path if ever I were to stay here for an overnight vacay..hmm good thing it's not for rent.
A green lawn had to be enjoyed! Wish we have a yard this spacious. Taking a look at the whole structure, colors actually were good choices.
Time to head to the administration office and wait for the tour to commence. I welcome you to Casa Mexico, orgininally from Mexico, Pampanga.
At its left side, a colorful display of architectural statements: from the stained glass decors at the ceiling area down to the painted tiles of the stairs, all decoratively placed on a plainly colored mocha casa.
A welcome sign for curious turisticos, viajeros and vagabundos. A copy of the map you see there at the bottom is given to every person signed up for the trip.

Upon checking out the Casa, I found this plaque with UAP (United Architect's of the Philippines) seal on it. It was awarded by Silangan Chapter to Las Casas. cool!
Welcome drinks are part of the tour package. They're an original Filipino Condiment: Sago't Gulaman. I love that they're served really cold with crushed ice on top. All that walking made us break sweats. It was a really hot morning, the sun did shine at a performance level!
Finally, the time has come to start with the day tour, packaged at P650 per head, with welcome drinks and cold, damp towel by the end of the tour.

Casa Bizantina was the first house we entered along with the other tourists, with our tour guide sharing stories and interesting history of every abode. 

This is a three-story mansion with a lot of stories to tell within its walls. "Bahay na Bato" is what they call it, meaning "House made of Stone". Usually, a Bahay na bato's stones are designed at the first floor only. Other Spanish bahay na bato homes have terraces and wishing wells and some other special parts of the house made of stones as well. 

Inside: grandioso mansion indeed! While listening to our young tour guide endlessly telling stories of the house, I took pictures.
Meet my travel buddy, Pincess with our interesting painting backdrop :)
An interesting bite out of this building's history: 50 informal settlers once dwelled here. They put interior partitions and nailed them to the columns. It was a grand place to stay in. The funny thing is, they didn't know what they were living in was ornamented with real gold so all the oro were preserved well to this day. 
Demolished in 2009, this house is a dream come true for the "lavish life" fanatics as it is well and perfectly restored to it's former glory, maybe even better than how it looked before.
The Master's Bedroom
Hermes, anyone? These come it free for guests, lucky them!
View of the courtyard
We passed by Paseo de Escolta after this. You've already seen it at the first part of the trip so you can just scroll back up as you please.



As mentioned above, I will show you how Casa Mexico looks like at its rear side. According to our very accommodating tour guide (sorry I forgot the name, it's been 6 months since this tour), if a man and his wife lack monetary resources to build an over all beautiful residence, the rear side would cost a lot cheaper to provide the best diseño at the facade.
Soon enough, before I knew it, we were climbing up the escaleras of the house, shoes off with just my socks on, and alas, we were staring at him while he's at the sala. Observe the scale of the rooms at the time, the colors natural and furniture intricately designed. 
We were not allowed to step in any room of the abode, we can only navigate through the criado passage ways which can pretty much see and access any part they were needed.
Maids passed through these pasillo all the time to attend to their masters.

A lot of Spanish terms have been and are still in use today in whole of Philippines, be it a part of a building, a furniture, a place, an event, habit etc. Reason is we were under the Spanish rule for more than 300 years. Customs, tradiciones and even our Religion were influenced by the Spanish invaders, that is why Philippines have the strongest Christian practitioners in Asia.
What he's holding is called "plantsang de uling": flat at the bottom, they put hot charcoal at the top, let it heat for a few moments and is ready to use to iron out clothes. This version is more round on the edges, another version of it is similar to our modern clothing iron with triangular edges. Talk about energy saving!
Another vintage invention is this genius thing! Let me narrate how it goes: This also a tool to flatten clothes which are placed flat at the concave plank. This time, it works with the help of friction when a woman rocks side to side the top wood part. Then the round wood at the middle rolls to each side as the woman rocks the top wood. It's genius 'cause it burns calories at the same time.
More vintage items for your eyes to see :)

Moving around the pasillo, I get a glimpse of Paseo de Escolta and the beautiful Mirador (gazebo) once again.

The el portar (porch) of Casa Jaen I. 


Entering Casa Lubao really took me on a time travel mode. I felt sleepy upon entering. The color of the interiors were dull, the vintage furniture were overwhelming, natural lighting even made me more sluggish. 
This mansion was built in the 1920's. A very influencial mujer once served in this quarters, the mother of former President Diosdado Macapagal. She used to be the family's laundrywoman.

Story of how this home survived during the Japanese invasion is that their driver, who happened to be a Japanese General convinced his comrades to spare this household for burning. The unknowing family took him under their wing after seeing him in a pitiful state. He served them for 10 years more or less. And thus, the family became dear to him 'cause he was treated as a family of the Vitug and Arasita family. 
As the Japanese conquering came about, they burned almost all the homes of Filipinos. They achieved their goal easier by spying on Filipino illustrados for years as family servants, drivers etc. This way they understood well the weakness and strengths of our ancestors, so they struck at the time when they were off guard, all at the same time.


Here are some views from the second level of Casa Lubao, sheer serenity at 360 degrees. A replica of a significant Church in Bataan is still in construction.
FYI:  Churches in the Philippines can't be bought, one can only make replicas given permission.

From left: Casa Biñan, Casa Baliuag I & Casa Quiapo
Back on the ground, we wander some more. 
Bronze sculptures showing "Lola Bashang" telling stories to children.

We enjoyed the weather that day, though hot and humid, the sights and scenes presented themselves impeccably well.
This well lit chapel shall serve an intimate venue to celebrate our faith. It is found in Casa Biñan, Binondo, a replica of Teodora Alonzo's house.
Most of the building's parts were copied. Although the original wooden door, stairs and some planks were used in the recreation process. If you take the tour, you'll hear about Teodora's half brother's story and his wife. Even how Soledad (Jose Rizal's youngest sibling) saved her mother from captivity from the guardia sibil.
A proof of status: servant passageway
Casa Baliuag proves to be one of the most interesting building in Las Casas. The architecture is confusing but revealing at the same time. As you see, three Filipina women wearing Sabrina Clothing, are improvised as columns at the second level of the building. Carrying baskets on their heads were a usual scene long time ago. They put their harvests, freshly bought poultry, typically anything they had to transfer from one place to another. It makes sense as weight is distributed evenly on the body compared to carrying items with bare hands.
On its other end, a prestigious display floral decorations with floral decorations. I never appreciated this subtle contrast until this building proved me its glory. Built in 1898 and owned by the Tolentino family. 
It got it's name from where it once proudly stood: Baliuag, Bulacan. It also served as a Municipal Hall at the peak of its glory days.
Right beside Casa Baliuag I is Casa Quiapo, another historical treasure of Philippine education. It was once home of the first school of Architecture in the country (even wikipedia agrees on this fact, though it is stated as Casa Hidalgo in the article). 
First ever seal of University of the Philippines School of Fine Arts, established in 1908.

There's a cute story of how master's of the house choose their visitors back in the day. Their old school CCTV's! Would any one of you know how? I know I do.. Hint: You won't see it 'till you look up. Let me know when you've done your research. I shall remember it forever :)
Subject: The little tree with Casa Meycauayan & Casa Lubao! (joking :p)


Real fact: Cobblestones make it extra uneasy 'cause it gets hotter walking on foot, but easier to walk around for it provides solid, even ground.
At the yard of Casa Meycauayan are these cute statues of kids playing "Luksong Baka" (Lukso: jump, Baka: Cow - jump over the cow) , an original Filipino game. Initially from Bulacan, this game's fun and simple. You just jump over the cow with only hour hands allowed to touch the cow (boy bent down and being jumped over), but not a single fabric more. To up the ante, the cow rises up a level on each round. If the jumper fails to comply, he/she replaces the cow and they start over again.
I'm sure this shelter has interesting interior and furniture, but I was too tired to take my shoes off again to be permitted to come in. So I sat at the stairs with Cess and waited for other tourists to finish their tour inside.
Aaaaand here we are :D
Right in front of us is Casa Candaba, built in 1780 and owned by the Reyes family, also used in the filming of "Noli Me Tangere", the most famous novel written by our national hero, Rizal. The Spanish governor was hospitably entertained by the family when he visited Pampanga.

Here is another cute house, Casa Binondo I from Binondo, Manila. The statues you see are a set of kids playing Palo Sebo, a famous game held on fiesta's as the bamboo pole is polished with "sebo" or grease. The players then would try to secure the flag/prize at the top of the pole all at the same time. The first one to get the flag, wins.
Casa Unisan is from Unisan, Quezon. It has a bit of a bloody past. The family who once lived here were murdered, but a little girl managed to escape through the window. Today it hosts Marivent Café, serving Spanish dishes all year round. 
About this time, we part ways with the tour at Las Casas. I learned a lot from our guide, he did a splendid job giving us all that historical information.
Time for lunch! This path leads to a sumptuous retreat. 
Read the rest of the story our muy sabrosos Italian lunch at La Bella Teodoro.
After lunch is a stage where all the food taken in start digesting. We walked on slow paces, enjoyed every view and the wind blowing against the strands of our hair.

And when you thought it was over, a more relaxing atmosphere awaits, where an infinity pool invites you to take a rewarding dip or just enjoy the seascape.
Hello! Cess and me again! It's so good to have a travel buddy that goes with everything. She's more like my travel soulmate! haha :)
More walking... This bridge leads to the shore, I wasn't all that excited to go to the beach that afternoon, because I didn't have any swimwear in my backpack! haha Might as well maximize this day and see everything!
I guess I should probably prove to you that I don't bring umbrella when I take my tours, I prefer to enjoy and capture the view than be too conscious about getting tan. In fact I'm a proud morena, but I do use whitening to even out my skin tone 365 days a year. 
It was nice to have a lovely time by the beach after all that historical overload. Although I couldn't get my mind off wondering how the buildings would react to the saline wind in time. If I remember it right, metals and a major number of building materials are prone to damage by corrosion caused by saltwater. It has been a worldwide problem that buildings by the beach have faster deterioration level compared to buildings built on land alone.
Anyway, enough of that. Let's just have fun ey? Two gals who enjoy breathing, touching sensual history! haha kidding
Qué latisima, my feet are killing me! And I'm doing my selfie again. Deal with it! :p
And so, we end this day walking out from where it all started. 
Thank you guys for spending some time reading or browsing through yet another precious day of my travels. I hope you enjoyed my year-ender post. Belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year ladies and gents! Adios amigos!

Once again, thank you for reading my blog. 'til the next sojourn :)

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for the very comprehensive post! Am an architecture enthusiast myself (though I am not an architect). Would hope to visit this place one day!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you AC! I really enjoyed my day there, relaxed while time traveling. I hope one day I get to be as good as you when it comes to blogging. Your posts are very interesting and helpful! Keep living an amazing life! :)

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    2. Thanks, you're too kind! Am just a humble blogger hehehe

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