I remember the first time I visited Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan a few years ago.
It was our company team building. I was just a normal working dude then, never in my life have I imagined that I would be a travel blogger. Seriously. I remember I was amazed with those old structures, but my appreciation has no depth. I find the structures beautiful but my mind was not creative enough to appreciate its history. I’m glad that I’ve grown these past years.
The most memorable for me at that first visit was all the good times I had with my workmates until we got drunk. I had those moments when in the middle of the night, I would look out the window and see some “guardia sibil” walking, or women in FIlipiniana. Then, I had those split-second confusion, Did we travel back in time? Was that a ghost? Then the logical part of my brain would kick in, “Oh they’re the staff of Las Casas.
After 5 years, I’m back at Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar, as part of the travel writers invited by the Department of Tourism (DOT) Region 3 for a press trip. And I can say that I am back as a grown person, better and matured, from a usual dude to a travel enthusiast and writer who appreciates and puts more value to culture and heritage.
Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar
I noticed there are lots of improvements in Las Casas. There are more structures, and the reception area was transferred from a small house to a huge mansion that can be reached after crossing a scenic bridge.
Las Casas simply brings you back to the past especially during the Spanish colonial times. The old houses in the complex were acquired by the owner, Jose “Jerry” Acuzar , from various parts of the country, transferred in the complex then meticulously rebuilt and restored. It took a lot of years before structures were built, and there are still a lot of construction going on.
One of the most exciting activities you could try in Las Casas is the River Tour. It’s a cruise around the property on a balsa passing through a narrow canal surrounded by houses. We passed through some brick walls, verandas and balconies which depict the old Manila. It was like a replica of estero during the old Manila. It’s sad, that while I was enjoying the cruise, I couldn’t help but ask. What happened? Why we weren’t able to preserve these? If what I was seeing was accurate, the old Manila looked like the canals of Venice or other European countries.
Another awesome experience there is the Heritage Tour. I remember this was offered to us on my first travel to Las Casas years ago during our team building, but I didn’t participate because I was busy drinking. Hahaha! But now, I will not miss the chance join the tour.
It all started at Casa Lubao. Then from one old house to another, the tour guide explained the houses’ history. Each house has a distinct story, worthy to be shared. We were already on the third house when I got a message from a fellow blogger that they were looking for me, because it was time for lunch.
We traveled through the kalesa and toured the entire place. Then we had our lunch at Hotel De Oriente, actually this is just a replica of the original hotel which was the first luxury hotel in Binondo during the Spanish colonial era.
What amazed us are the wooden sculptures with intricate designs surrounding the hotel’s lobby. It’s a perfect setting for any photo sessions.
We left Las Casas after lunch and traveled for a few hours going to Mt. Samat National Shrine. Unfortunately, there was this big pilgrimage at that time and they were not allowing vehicles to get in close to the spot. If we would insist to go to there, we had to hike for a few kilometers.
Our guides decided not to pursue, so we traveled to Balanga, checked-in at The Plaza Hotel explored more of Balanga by chilling at The Beanery Coffee Shop. Then, we had dinner at a local restaurant.
Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar
Brgy. Ibaba, Bagac, Bataan 2107, Philippines
Direct Lines:+63 8774503 /+63 332 5286/+63 332 5338/
Mobile No.: +63 917 832 9361
One of the best way to discover more of a specific destination is to go to the market. At night, we went to the market and experienced the Christmas tiangge there. I bought 2 T-shirts, while my travel buddies bought clothes, slippers and many more. Amazing, they have a shirt for my size. Hahaha!
We went back to our hotel fully satisfied with what Bataan has to offer – the scenery, history and food. Thumbs up!
Day 2: Bataan National Park
After our breakfast, we traveled to Orani, Bataan for some nature trip.
Bataan National Park is a protected area in the mountainous part of the province. It has a total of 23.6 hectares of thick forest and mountains encompassing Orani, Hermosa, Samal, Abucay, Balanga, Bagac and Morong.
But during that time, we explored the part of Orani in which the viewing deck of the Bataan National Park is located. This is situated on top of the mountain! Some hikers just trek going there, but for us, we went there through a 4 x 4, and it was a lot of adventure! It was a bumpy ride going there but it was fun, and once we arrived, we were welcomed by this magnificent beauty of nature.
The structures of the viewing deck looked old but can still be renovated and used. There are some plans by the local Tourism office to renovate the place for the upcoming promotion of Orani as the next destination for nature lovers.
Vista Tala Resort and Recreational Park
We planned to have our lunch at the Vista Tala Resort and Recreational Park located at the jump-off point for hikers and mountain climbers going to the view deck, Pasukulan Falls and Mt. Natib. This is a mountain resort with lots of spots overlooking the mountainous parts of Orani. But before that, the staff let us experience their amenities, some adventure activities like wall climbing, rappelling and zip line!
I wasn’t able to try the wall climbing because obviously I am overweight. I know that if I tried wall climbing, I’ll just be embarrassing myself. Hahaha! I need more time to get fit, and when that time comes, I’m going back.
By the end of the activities, we all tried the zipline! Of course, having fear of heights, I still got scared a bit. But hey I was able to do the zipline in Lake Sebu in South Cotabato, the highest zipline in Southeast Asia, so this will just be a piece of cake. Hahaha!
Our tour ended with a sumptuous lunch at the resort.
“Bring Home A Friend”
The entire familiarization trip is in line with the national campaign of the Department of Tourism’s “Bring Hhome a Friend.”
By highlighting the beauty of Bataan, we are giving our kababayan more reasons to come back, and even bring their friends with them.
This is an exciting campaign with lots of awesome prizes, all you have to do is invite a friend or a kababayan to rediscover the beauty of our motherland. The mechanics of joining can be found here, Bring home a friend.
Two days of exploring Bataan is not enough to cover all the beauty that this province has to offer, but it was enough to gain some unforgettable experiences. Indeed, more than its history like Bataan Death March, the province is truly an awesome travel destination. And it’s just a few hours from Manila! It’s about time to change your usual travel itinerary and experience Bataan.
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