Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar: A taste of history

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Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar

Where do you go if you want to experience what it feels like when the Philippines was invaded by the Spanish? Let me guess: Vigan City. It is almost everyone’s go-to place (aside from Intramuros, of course) for things like this.

Well, let me tell you that there is another place for a taste of history: Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar. It is located in Bagac, Bataan. This place is more low-profile than Vigan and Intramuros, and that’s what makes it more interesting.

The compound is filled with 27 houses similar to the ones you see in Vigan. These houses were named according to the place where they were originally built. You understood right! The houses are built in other places and were then moved to Las Casas. Some are from Pangasinan, Tondo, University of the Philippines, and Binondo.

Each house has its own history which would be disclosed to you during a one-hour tour around the whole place.

The lobby

The lobby


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Casa Byzantine is the biggest of the 27 houses. It is the only house with its own butler. It can be rented as a whole or by room


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Mosaic wall inside Casa Byzantine


Mosaic ceiling inside Casa Byzantine

Mosaic ceiling inside Casa Byzantine

There are 2 in-house restaurants in Las Casas. One specializes in Spanish and Filipino cuisines and is also the main attraction of Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, Cafe Marivent. The most memorable dish for me here is the Kare-Kare.

The other one is an Italian restaurant named La Bella Teodora. When in La Bella Teodora, make sure to try their four-cheese pizza and their lasagna.

La Bella Teodora

La Bella Teodora


La Bella Teodora

Inside La Bella Teodora

Las Casas Filipinas has a beach and a swimming pool. To help you go around the whole place, they offer a jeepney shuttle for free. Currently, they are building a tramway that would also run around the whole compound.

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The swimming pool is also in sync with the beach


 They also have a game room called Salon de Juego. Everything is free and won’t cost you a cent to enjoy. There is also a store where you can buy pasalubongs from.

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There’s table tennis, billiards, darts, and others


The uniforms of the employees also added to the ambiance. Each of them is wearing barongs and sayas.

The rooms are affordable and also very comfortable. Our room was a two-floor suite which we got for more or less P6,500. We got it with a discount as we went during the month of May, an off-peak season.

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This is the in-house photo shop. Above this is where our rooms are located.


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Sunset by the beach

Las Casas Filipinas has an in-house spa to complete your vacation.

You can visit Las Casas for a vacation, book it for pictorials or for receptions — just make sure to experience what it has to offer.

AM

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Cafe Lupe: Appreciate the city away from the city

Cafe Lupe, Antipolo

View from Cafe Lupe

Antipolo City holds a special place in my heart. Mostly because it’s where I was born and where I was raised; this is mostly what I have known my whole life. I am proud to call myself taga-bundok. Also, my friends are all here and most of our memories are made here.

One of the things Antipolo is known for is its “metro-viewing” sites, especially the ones along Sumulong Hi-way, which some people call OL or “over-looking”.

In the past years, restaurants, bars, and KTV’s started to pop-up along Sumulong Hi-way until it became to be known as a place for friends or family get-togethers.

The most recent establishment in this long strip is Cafe Lupe. It’s not just a restaurant/bar with live bands but also a Bed and Breakfast.

Cafe Lupe

Cafe Lupe Bar

Cafe Lupe

Cafe Lupe bar extension. That building houses the bed and breakfast.

I had to go to Cafe Lupe because my job interview was set there. When I got there, though, I realized that the person I was meeting was running late. I didn’t mind because I also wanted to take pictures of the place and try something off their menu as I was not able to have breakfast.

Cafe Lupe’s food menu ranges from P180-600. They also serve both alcoholic drinks and non-alcoholic. Happy hour starts from 10am to 5pm. During these hours, you can get 6 beers and an appetizer for only P350.

Cafe Lupe

Inside the bar

I went to Cafe Lupe at daytime and, as it is more known for being a bar, there aren’t a lot people around. This allowed me to really appreciate the place, look around, take some photos, and finally relax, at least until the interview starts.

Cafe Lupe

The clubhouse costs P180

The view from Antipolo is beautiful day and night. Cafe Lupe just adds the comfort you need to appreciate the sight.

Cafe Lupe

View from the bar

Visit, or better yet stay at Cafe Lupe, and have yourself a relaxing Antipolo experience.

For more inquiries, visit http://cafelupeantipolo.wix.com/overlooking.

AM

Bohol in a Day

Bohol

1,260 hills of Bohol

My happiness for the arrival of summer this year was intensified by the fact that I will be graduating in the same month. Finally out of school….forever (unless I decide to go to law school). To celebrate this, I decided to go to Bohol, one of the places I wanted to see and experience. I booked a three-day trip to Bohol; one day for the tour and two for bumming around at the hotel and at the beach…simultaneously.

I left Manila on a Sunday at 8AM and reached Tagbilaran Airport by Cebu Pacific airlines at 9AM. Upon landing at the Tagbilaran airport at 9AM, we found out that the car that was supposed to pick us up and take us to the resort wasn’t booked successfully (as in somebody forgot to do it). There were passive-aggressive comments coming from our side and we finally agreed to rent a car at the airport to be paid by the resort as a compromise.

All was forgiven; we arrived at the resort and booked a car to take us on a 4-hour tour of Bohol as this is what I intend to accomplish on my first day in Bohol. The driver was friendly and he also acted as our tour guide. He was telling us the background histories of the places we pass.

He took us to see the tarsiers at the Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary. After paying the P50 entrance fee and trying Chichaworm (edible worms), there was a short orientation of what not to do around the tarsiers. Basically, they asked us to be quiet as the tarsiers were resting and to turn the flashes of the visitors’ cameras off. It was my first time to see a tarsier and I have to admit, they’re a bit terrifying. They’re the size of my fist with eyes bugging out. I was only able to see 5 of them. After completing a round of the place, bought some souvenirs sold inside and outside of the Sanctuary.

The Butterflies Conservation Center is located in Bilar. The entrance fee, if I remember correctly, is P20. Upon entering, you’ll get a certain…organic vibe. It is 20 minutes of butterfly-viewing and picture-taking. They showed us butterflies who are half-boy and half-girl. Yes, I found it amusing. This is also where I bought the best cheese ice cream yet which also costs P20.

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Butterfly Garden. What I’m holding is a “lazy” butterfly

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Still the “lazy” butterfly

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The best cheese ice cream sold at the butterfly garden!

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Butterfly gallery

We passed by the man-made forest (which I found amazing) in Bilar. It is filled with mahogany trees stretching to two kilometers but there’s only a certain spot where cars can stop to take pictures because some spots aren’t exactly safe. There are a lot of tourists when we got there so we had a hard time taking a good picture but with a little patience, we were able to leave the site with a decent photo.

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Man-made forest

Of course, our Bohol trip wouldn’t be complete without visitng the chocolate hills! I was surprised to find out that it was free! After getting off the car, we were faced with a 214-step stairs going to the viewing spot. I immediately decided to get back to the car and get some water. This is where I felt the last 9 months when I have been doing my thesis and nothing else. I was soaking in sweat and out of breath! But when I reached the top, well, it’s cliche but I’ll say it’s worth it. Imagine 1,260 hills in 360° view.

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214 steps to the viewing dock of the Chocolate Hills

We also passed a hanging bridge. The entrance fee for this one costs P20. It is a short and thrilling experience because unlike other hanging bridges, this one is made by just patches of woods. Let’s just say I never took my eyes off my feet during the whole cross.

We finally realized we’re hungry (it is almost 2PM). We headed to Loboc Riverwatch Floating Resto. It costs more or less 400 per head. The food was okay, nothing to look forward to. What you really are paying for is the experience. Lunch is served in a buffet while taking a cruise at the Loay River. Beers are served and a band is playing. We passed houses and children hanging by the rope and jumping into the river. The foreigners on the boat were obviously amused as they kept clapping and taking pictures. At one point, the boat stopped at a station (which was also a boat), we crossed to see children dressed in sayas and boys in barongs. They were playing ukelele and folk-dancing. After the performance, we got into our boat again and headed back.

Our last stop was the Baclayon Church, which, at the time we visited, was still under construction. It was wrecked during the 2013 earthquake at magnitude 7. Despite this, they still allow tourist to see the inside of the church and the museum above it for only P20. After the quick tour of the museum, I decided to go to the church where I lit candles for my prayers. Even in ruins, or maybe even because of it, it is one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen.

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Baclayon Church is under renovation after being destroyed by an earthquake

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Tickets are purchased to enter the museum by the Baclayon Church

I am glad to have experienced Bohol with my family. Mostly because the expenses are not suited for barkada trips where you want to spend the least. The most consuming expense is the transportation; the tour is scattered among different cities so you would really have to rent a car or a motorcycle. The hotel is not so much of a pocket-burden because you can always find a cheap place to stay in. I hope the read encouraged you to experience Bohol!

Tour expenses:

  • Car rental                   P 1,800
  • Tarsier-viewing          P 50
  • Butterfly Garden        P 20
  • Baclayon Church       P 20
  • Hanging Bridge         P 20
  • Loboc River Buffet    P 480
  • TOTAL                       P2,390

AM