CASA San Miguel Bed & Breakfast – A Dreamer’s Retreat [SP]
CASA San Miguel, a community-based arts center, now offers a bed and breakfast.
Cozy, rustic double rooms
Last weekend, Starbucks Philippines invited me to join a visit to CASA San Miguel, a community-based school for the arts in San Antonio, Zambales – a destination better known for beginner’s surf, and as a jump-off point to the camping beach coves of Anawangin and Nagsasa. The coffee brand currently sponsors six-month residency-mentorship programs at the arts center, wherein professional artists can share their talent and knowledge with the young scholars, who mostly come from underprivileged communities in the area.
On the side, Starbucks also organizes small-scale projects in CASA San Miguel like setting up an organic herb and vegetable garden, with the assistance of the Meralco Foundation; and organizing a football clinic for children from the surrounding villages, in partnership with Futbol sa Kalye, a non-profit that promotes street football among underprivileged communities around the Philippines. The volunteer trainers themselves come from disadvantaged communities in Tondo, Manila. At a shady mango orchard next to the main house, we spent the Sunday morning conducting some football drills, culminating with a friendly match between the Futkaleros and some young children from the village, who we nicknamed the “CASAkals”. After the game, we all hit the nearby shoreline for a swim. We found an awesome spot at one end of the beach, where the crashing surf swept over the sand onto the mouth of a freshwater estuary.
Built on a family retreat property established in 1921, CASA San Miguel was erected in 1993 – in place of an ancestral house that burnt down – as a center for the arts for the local community, the brainchild of highly-acclaimed violinist Alfonso “Coke” Bolipata. Here, the best young homegrown musicians become part of the Pundaquit Virtuosi, a children’s ensemble that regularly performs both here and abroad. Aside from chamber music, the foundation has expanded to nurturing the local youth with other art forms, such as painting, photography, film and, occasionally, theater arts.
Now on its 19th season, the Pundaquit Festival is the community arts program of CASA San Miguel designed to develop the local fishing community through various programs including long and short-term residencies for visiting artists, performances, workshops and exhibits. Moreover, there’s also a community heritage museum under construction; on display are pottery and ceramics salvaged from a shipwrecked Chinese junk offshore.
A lantern-lit outdoor patio also serves as performance space for resident scholars and guest ar
Indeed, a lot has changed since I last visited the place four years ago. To also help sustain the foundation, CASA San Miguel has recently opened a bed and breakfast, and community café to cater to visitors. Currently, there are three guest rooms ready for occupancy: two double A/C rooms (P 3,000/night) and a VIP family suite for six persons (P8,000/night). Set breakfast is included with the room rates. Seven more double rooms will be built. I spent a night in one of their spacious and rustic rooms, furnished with capiz windows, antique furniture and large artworks in oil. Definitely the best choice to relax and get inspired. Revisiting this contemplative oasis of artistry did urge me to be more creative: to get back to painting, write a novel, learn an instrument, or just simply be a better person…
Have some molten lava cake ala mode for dessert!
Tuyo (dried fish) carbonara pasta
If you can’t spend the night at CASA, you can always drop by to have a hearty meal at the newly opened CASA Backstage Café, located below the concert hall. Festooned with paper bag lanterns and wooden chimes under the cool shade of a huge duhat (black plum) tree, the cozy eatery has a small patio and outdoor stage for occasional performances by resident scholars and guest artists. Bestsellers of their menu are their pasta dishes, such as pesto (PHP 140) and tuyo pasta (PHP 130). They also have breakfast meals (PHP 70 to 120), brick-oven pizzas (PHP 230++), salads and paella (PHP 1,000 to 1,500, good for 6-8). Finish with dessert, such as their molten lava cake ala mode (PHP 100).
HOW TO GET THERE: Ride a Victory Liner bus bound for Sta. Cruz or Iba in Zambales at the Caloocan Terminal near Monumento LRT, and alight at San Antonio town. A non-AC bus was only PHP 208. From the town center, catch a tricycle (PHP 30) to CASA San Miguel, located at Evangelista St, Brgy San Miguel, right across San Miguel Elementary School. For contact details and other information, please visit the CASA San Miguel website. For the latest updates, like them on Facebook.
Welcome to my website! I’m travel writer, photographer and online influencer Edgar Alan Zeta-Yap from the Philippines. Join me as I hike, dive, fly, eat and do pretty much anything in between across 7,641 islands and beyond. Need to reach me? Please write me an email.