I graduated in college a couple of weeks ago. That being said, my family automatically set up a trip in order to celebrate my accomplishment. As the school I am studying in is far away from home, my parents had very little opportunity to explore Bataan (the place where my school is located). So they insisted that after the graduation ceremony, we spend the night in that small city and explore the attractions the very next day. The first place that we bumped into was the Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar of Bagac, Bataan.
At the entrance of Las Casas, visitors will be welcomed with an enormous gate made out of bricks along with guards fully dressed in katipunan uniform. Staffs of the park are also one with the atmosphere since they are all wearing traditional Filipino outfits.
The park entrance is a little bit costly AT FIRST. Since it was my first time to visit a park offering a tour about a bunch of old Filipino houses, I had no idea about what other things this place has to offer. However, at the end of the tour, I am more than convinced that the fee should’ve been more than we paid for. For those interested, the park entrance is at 2000 Pesos (40$). This includes lunch, a boat ride, a kalesa ride, and a cold face towel.
First stop, the boat ride! After settling your payments, staff will now guide you to your first itinerary. A bangkero (the one in charge of running the boat) will be guiding you throughout the boat ride. As the boat is driven along the river (the river is not man-made by the way), the bangkero narrates interesting stories of how the whole park started off with a couple of houses at first. He also tells how each house is delicately disassembled piece by piece from their original locations around the Philippines, then carefully placing it back together in the park. This is a process requiring utmost patience and dedication. A single piece out of place may endanger not only the integrity of the structure, but also the safety of guests visiting the houses.
After the boat ride, the bangkero will drop you off near the next activity. A variety of games such as table tennis, billiards, chess, sungka and more are provided in order to entertain you while rounding up the group for the next tour. A tour guide will lead you through the other houses while providing a fun narration about where the house originated, who owns it, and other interesting stories about what happened inside the house while it is still occupied. No worries for the foreigners as the tour guides are also well versed in speaking the English language.
After the tour around the old houses, we availed of the lunch included in our package. The restaurant, of course, is also an old house not too far away from the site where the tour ended. The best part? It serves some of the well known Filipino dishes that will surely satisfy locals and foreigners alike. The quantity and quality of the food lives up to meet the superb atmosphere inside the restaurant.
After satisfying our palates with authentic Filipino cuisine, we are again more than ready to continue the rest of the tour. A kalesa ride coupon is also included in the package. We hopped into the kalesa and pretended to be señors and señoras as the horse trekked the old fashioned pavement of Las Casas.
We ended the day with a memorable stroll along the lovely spanish style village in las casas. Basing from the appearance of the village, I think this would be the perfect image of how the village of rich Filipinos back then looks like. There are also old fashioned lanterns lining up the way. It was unfortunate that we did not have the opportunity to see this place at night. I am sure that the lights would certainly give a different kind of feel and experience to the visitors.
With the ever present activities everyday, people tend to find lesser time to admire the works of the past. Who knows? Maybe the stories of the houses here may inspire you, and give you hope of the limitless possibilities of the future. Happy traveling guys!!