This is a continuation of our summer gateway in Luzon last April 2008. If you want to read my pervious posts on our 5 day vacation here it is:
Our first order of business was to check in at the Crown Regency Hotel in Makati. The Crown Regency hotel in Makati is a bit smaller than its counterparts in Cebu and the rest of the country. It is not exactly comparable to hotels in Las Vegas, but the fact that it is located in Makati makes it an advantage since Makati is the “Wall street” or the business district of the Philippines.
Afterwards, our long three hour Journey began. The vehicle that we hired at SM mall of Asia several days ago drove us to there. Once again we passed by the SLEX (South Luzon Expressway) drove straight through Laguna and after three hours of driving arrived at the famous Hacienda just in time for lunch.
Villa Escudero is located in San Pablo City Laguna. It is a showcase of Filipino Culture. In particular it reflects what life like in a Hacienda is. A Hacienda is a plantation owned by a rich landlord. (Usually of Spanish decent) Workers in the Hacienda live in the Hacienda and till the land for the rich landlord. In some areas of the Philippines, there are still Hacienda’s that are operating Negros and Northern Luzon where landlords are known for owning huge tracts of land. Most Haciendas today are now modern. What’s unique about this Hacienda is that it is only probably the only Hacienda in the Philippines that has somehow preserved the Spanish time Hacienda way of life. The hacienda has so much to offer, aside from its rich cultural heritage. They have now expanded in operating hotels and even a first class subdivision that somehow promises to let urban dwellers live the relaxing Hacienda life and forget the busyness of city life.
The first thing that greeted us is the front desk where you are served with a thirst quenching traditional Filipino drink known as “Sago Gulaman” You can drink as many as you can. We bought some tickets and decided to have lunch later and visit the museum first.
The museum probably holds more collection than any other museum in the Philippines. It houses the personal collection of the Escudero family who was very much concerned in preserving arts and culture. (As evidenced by the way the hacienda is maintained) Most of the Escudero family through the years has collected a lot of antiques and other memorabilia and priced items during their travels. They have managed to preserve the old furniture, household utensils and other stuff dating back to the Spanish period.
The museum is shaped like a church from the outside and consists of two stories. The first floor of the museum houses the religious collection where antique statutes of saints and other religious items dating to the Spanish period are kept. As we moved forward we are as if whisked away back in time as we view the collection of artifacts from ancient Filipino cultures such as weaponry, household utensils, coffins, etc. We then climbed up to the second floor where you can see a lot stuff that the Escudero family has collected through their generation’s decades of travel outside the country. The collections are varied and do not focus on one single item. There are old coins, postcards, clothing, jars, just anything you can imagine.
Some of the museum artifacts were dug up from the Escudero property. As you move forward you can see artifacts from the old Escudero household including love letters. Up ahead there are several World War II artifacts including an old armory, uniforms worn in the war, some more weaponry, books etc.
Unfortunately we cannot take pictures inside the museum so we just took pictures outside. Grabbing a glimpse of the past made us so hungry, so we went to grab some lunch, which was included in the package tour.
To go to the lunch area, we rode a Carabao cart. As we traveled slowly to the lunch area, a guitarist and a singer sang traditional Filipino songs. All hacienda staff wore traditional Filipino attire. This was truly a very unique experience.
The venue where lunch was served really surprised us. Lunch was served at a river facing the man-made waterfalls. Tables were placed in the river and we ate with water underneath us, about half a knee deep. Traditional Flipino food was served and we had sumptuous feast.
After we had our meal we then proceeded to the restaurant area, where they have a large stage to accommodate the cultural presentation.
The cultural presentation is a compilation of Filipino Follk dances from the pre-Spanish Period to the Spanish period. Several dances from the Visayas and Mindanao regions were also presented. The performers were all workers of the hacienda who were trained and choreographed. The presentation was excellent and was earned the admiration and the praise of both foreigners and Filipino guest alike. The Rondalla band also did several songs. We liked the Rondalla presentation so much that we bought the three music CDs that were produced by the Rondalla band.
After the cultural presentation, my dad stayed in the restaurant to relax, while I wrote some blog post. The restaurant was facing the river and had such an excellent view. My brother, sister, mom and my son Zed went for a quick dip at the river.
It was time for us to go home, so we took the jeep back to the main entrance. Before said good bye, we posed for photographs at the plaza in front of the museum and the old Escudero ancestral house. This is where several World War II war machines were displayed. (Tanks, Artillery including an old airplane)
We began our long journey to Manila and arrived at the hotel at around 9 p.m. We had dinner at the nearby mall. The long trip made us so tired so we decided to call it a day, next day we will be flying back to Cebu.
The next day, Sunday was spent going to church at the Christ Commissioned Fellowship at St. Francis Square at the back of the SM Megal mall in Ortigas. An American was preaching. I really like the praise and worship and experience there, they had such a well practiced praise and worship team. I’ve been to that church for several times already and one thing I can appreciate about that church is the fact that it utilizes technology heavily in its worship service. Three projector screens are used during the service. All announcements are made either through a multimedia presentation.
After church, my mom and sister did some shopping at St. Francis square which is known for its cheap merchandise. My brother, my dad, Zed and I spent time playing at the arcade games.
After shopping time we went back to the hotel to check out and hailed a cab or the airport where we took the flight to Cebu. We certainly had a great time enjoying Pagsanjan falls, Manila Ocean Park and Villa Escudero. See you in our next adventure.
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