Since opening to the public in 2004, Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan has grown in popularity, attracting tourists who come to admire the nostalgic atmosphere of the 40-hectare heritage resort by the sea. Much like the heritage towns of Vigan, Taal and Carcar, one can easily imagine how life was like during the Spanish and American colonial times. But unlike these towns, this resort park is a modern reconstruction, the brainchild of real estate developer and heritage-lover Gerry Acuzar of New San Jose Builders, after whom the resort was named. No more than a three-hour drive from Manila, most travelers visit the heritage park on a day trip from the capital. But most of the heritage buildings can be rented out in part or whole for those who wish to spend the night at the resort. Here are eight amazing reasons why you should book a room at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar:
- Explore more heritage buildings. Day tours typically only a few hours and cover a handful of houses. An overnight stay at Las Casas, which includes complimentary tours, will give you more time to explore the 27 – and counting –heritage houses and buildings at the park, many of which not included in the standard tours like the Hotel de Oriente Convention Center, Sanctuario de San Jose, Estero de Binondo and Maranao Houses. And if you ask your tour guide nicely, you might even get to take a peek at the exclusive hotel rooms of the resort.
- Feast on excellent Filipino and Spanish cuisine. Enjoy more breakfast, lunch and dinner at Café Marivent, a restaurant in the heritage house Casa Unisan that serves impeccable Filipino and Spanish dishes with the rustic ambience of hardwood furniture and stone reliefs on the walls. My favorite dishes were the Sinigang sa Bayabas (PHP 595), Lechon Carahay (PHP 505) and Lengua A La Financiera (PHP 830).
- Meet the artisans behind the reconstruction work. Overnight accommodations also include workshop tours where visitors can take a behind-the-scenes look at the amazing brick-making and wood carving work that goes into reconstructing the buildings for the heritage park. During our tour, we met 73-year-old master woodcarver Celestino “Celing” Fadul who hails from the woodcarving town of Paete, Laguna. He has been working at the resort for nine years with his two sons, crafting remarkable sculptures in wood used to embellish many of the heritage structures of the resort.
- Stroll and sunbathe at the fine beach. The heritage resort is located right along a clean stretch of beach at the mouth of the Umalog River. La Puesta del Sol is a row of colonial-style apartments at the Estero de Binondo area of the park.
- Cool off at the batis-inspired swimming pool. Only overnight guests are privileged to use the swimming pool located next to the Umalog River and Cagayan houses. Inspired by a countryside batis or stream, the shallow pool is the perfect place to cool off after exploring the heritage park.
- Admire the glorious sunset over the sea. The west-facing beach affords uninterrupted views of the West Philippine Sea where you can watch the sun retire in golden splendor on the clearest days.
- Marvel at the heritage park at night. After sundown, the heritage buildings are lit up, lending a magical and romantic air to the entire resort. The Hotel de Oriente Convention Center, a replica of Manila’s oldest luxury hotel, looked particularly stunning at night, its lights reflected upon the calm waters of the Umalog River, next to the dimly lit replica of the old Jones Bridge where one could find a large statue underneath of the mythical half-horse half-man tikbalang.
- Bathe and sleep luxuriously like a wealthy ilustrado. Many of the heritage houses of the resort park can be rented wholly, ranging from PHP 18,000 for Casa Bonita and more than PHP 125,000 per night for the premier hotel, Casa Bizantina. Individual hotel rooms start at PHP 6,500 at Paseo de Escolta and PHP 7,500 for La Puesta del Sol at Estero de Binondo, the collection of houses by the beach. Spacious and luxurious, one can sleep and bathe like a wealthy ilustrado or educated elite of yore. Find discounted room rates here!
How to Get There
Take a Genesis or Bataan Transit bus from Pasay City or Cubao to the transport terminal of Balanga City, where you can transfer by jeepney or mini-bus to Bagac. From the town proper, take a short tricycle ride to the resort entrance of Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.
Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar also offers a daily shuttle service between Metro Manila and the resort at PHP 750 per person per way. Pick-up points are New World Hotel in Makati City at 7:00 AM and Astoria Plaza Hotel in Ortigas Center, Pasig City at 7:35 AM. The van service arrives at Las Casas at 10:45 AM and departs for Metro Manila at 3:50 PM.