Glimpses of the Olden Times in Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar

๐Ÿ‘ซ It was one of those days where we decided we would treat ourselves to something unique and memorable. We were setting off on a Monday morning for about 3-hour drive from Manila to Bagac, a small fishing village in the province of Bataan.

Sanctuario de San Jose

Driving into the complex of Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar Heritage Resort, we were greeted by the unfamiliar sight of guards wearing uniforms that look like worn by the Spanish Guardia civil.

Reception Hall
After we checked in at the Reception Hall, we were taken then to our room via jeepney service, which is ideally situated at the Paseo de Escolta. We booked the Executive Suite (P17,000.00/night) good for 6 guests. Our suite was more like a 3-story heritage house tastefully furnished with everything.

Las Casas Executive Suites
king size bed on the second floor

We managed to join a free guided heritage walking tour but decided to leave in only a few minutes. Our tour guide was like in a hurry to get over with the tour. She skipped some places and we couldn't hear what she was saying. So we settled to just roam around and spend lovely hours checking the heritage houses and other sites pretty much on our own.

In the snap of a finger, we felt like we were stepping into some kind of time warp, back to those days from where our Filipino ancestors used to live during the Spanish colonial period. It really looks like a huge neighborhood in olden days showcasing of what the Spanish heritage houses were like such as the noble class mansions, wooden stilt houses, and a grand main building made of stone standing in a village of cobblestone streets.

Casa Hagonoy

Casa Binan is a replica of the house of Teodora Alonzo, the mother of the Philippine national hero Jose Rizal. This is where the box office hit Heneral Luna's final scene was filmed.

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar is a 100-acre beach and mountainside heritage-inspired property. Home to almost forty original Spanish-Filipino colonial structures, the property showcases the vision of Jose Acuzar who collects, transplants and restores built heritage. It is said that these architectural pieces of a bygone era, from different parts of the country, were reconstructed brick by brick, plank by plank.

We were able to watch a free cultural show late in the afternoon.

After resting a bit we headed out again to have our dinner at Cafe Marivent located in the Binondo Hall of Hotel De Oriente. We replenished ourselves with Filipino and Spanish cuisine and took the opportunity to snap a few night shots of the complex as well.

Cafe Marivent  Binondo Hall

Paseo de Escolta Rooms

We rose early in the morning and had a simple but hearty breakfast at Cafe Marivent again. Oh, did I mention how awesome the river tour is? We were fascinated by beautiful scenery from the tranquil river of Umagol and charming artworks along canals of Estero de Binondo building. We thought we were riding an outdoor gondola in Venice (except no one was serenading us). It gave us another amazing view and relaxing experience of Las Casas. Price for the river cruise is P500 per person (minimum of 4).

Then we spent time indulging ourselves with architectural ornaments from wooden and golden carvings, wood mosaics, sculptures, plasterworks and paintings that highlight Filipino's creativity and skills at Hotel de Oriente Convention Center. Admission is P150/pax with a tour guide for in-house guest.

Hotel de Oriente
The lobby covered with Philippine wood is the highlight of Hotel de Oriente
Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar also offers a free hop-on-hop-off jeepney and tramvia ride within the resort. While kalesa ride, golf cart, and bicycle can be rented.

kalesa ride at P75/pax  (maximum of four)

free tramvia ride
Our one-night stay at Las Casas really went ridiculously fast as we had so many things to do. Truly, there's never a dull moment at this resort with the various activities you can do there. Aside from what I have mentioned above, you can spend time enjoying board games free of charge. You can also indulge in spa treatments, and water sports like kayaking, island-hopping, and fishing.

"batis" inspired swimming pool
Heading back to Manila was a long drag but we were able to visit an artsy cafe named Stregato Gelateria, which is located at Galeria Victoria Mall in Balanga, Bataan. Good food and pretty decor.

I would recommend Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar Heritage Resort to anyone who would like to experience and know about the Philippines during the 18th century. I don't mind saying that this has been one of the most interesting trips of my life.  The concept is quite unique. We liked all the accommodating staff and we were completely delighted with pretty much how smooth everything went. All in all, our first ever Bataan trip was an epic memorable and here's to many more years of travel!

Till next time, 

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Celebrating 2017 Year of the Fire Rooster at The Manila Hotel

๐Ÿ‘ซ Traditional Lion and Dragon parades were performed for good fortune, and fireworks display light up Manila skies to welcome 2017 Lunar New Year of the Fire Rooster at Manila Hotel. There was no better way to welcome and celebrate the Lunar New Year than by savoring tasty food, so in the evening we had sandwiches, pasta, chicken and pork adobo with rice. The next morning we filled our tummies to the brim with sumptuous buffet breakfast at Cafe Ilang Ilang. We also snatched up some freshly baked treats at Delicatessen. (Below is a short 12-minute video on how we celebrated CNY).

Gong Xi Fa Cai! May the Lunar New Year of the Fire Rooster bring happiness, good health and prosperity to you all lovely peeps!

Till next time, 

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Busan Part 6: Taejongdae Park

 ๐Ÿ‘ซ The following morning we still had free time before our departure so we made up our mind to take another city tour bus and roam around the other side of Busan. We took the Taejongdae Course going to Taejongdae Park, which is one of Busan key attractions.  This is a huge park and the entrance to the lighthouse and rocky cliff is seemingly endless. So we decided to take the mini "Danubi Train" to get us to the place.

Taejongade is one of the representative scenic sites (No.17) of Busan, with a unique beauty of a coastal erosion cliff, luxuriant forest, clear ocean, lighthouse and a variety of recreation facilities. It is famous because Tsushima Islands of Japan can be seen on a clear day from here. It is said that Taejongdae Park was used as a military fortified area during the Japanese Occupation, so entry was restricted to citizens, but in 1969 it was designated as a tourist spot and opened to the public.

Yeongdo Lighthouse was established in 1906, but has been renovated in 2004 due to the deteriorated facilities. The newly established site (720m) consists of a lighthouse, an art gallery, and a gallery of natural history. The white cylinder-shaped lighthouse is 35 meters high and its beam can be seen for about 40 kilometers. Yeongdo Lighthouse is Busan's first watched lighthouse and it is the 10th lighthouse in Korea.

It is said that this place is filled with interesting legends and stories, and one of them is the Mojasang (Mother and Son Statue) located at the entrance of the Taejongdae Park Observatory, which resembles a mother holding two children in her arms. It embraces the meaning of appreciating lives by being reminded of the mother's love. This stone statue tells a painful story. In the past, many people committed suicide here, so at one time, the broad rock beneath the Observatory was referred to as "Suicide Rock". But, after the "Mojasang" was installed, miraculously the suicidal rate significantly reduced in reality.

Going back instead of taking the Danubi train, we opted to walk with amazing view all to ourselves and nothing but the sounds of nature. I was surprised that majority of visitors take the train rather than walk. It's a bit far from the entrance but they're missing out on a wonderful experience that doesn't require much energy especially on a cold weather.

Our visit to Seoul and Busan came to an end. The time flew by quickly and before we knew it, it was time to fly back to Manila.

At last I finished the Korea trip! Hooray! And let me greet you lovely peeps a Happy 2017 Lunar New Year! Gong Xi Fa Cai!!!  I'll be sharing a video where we celebrated the Year of the Fire Rooster in the next post. ๐Ÿ˜Š

Till next time, 

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Busan Part 5: Haeundae Course

๐Ÿ‘ซ Busan is located on the southeastern-most tip of the Korea peninsula, and it is South Korea's second largest city after Seoul. In order to get a quick overview of Busan's most popular sights we chose to get the hop-on, hop-off open-top double decker sightseeing tour bus, which is located beside Busan Station.

Busan City

We were a little excited since we had never done anything like this before. There are several routes but the most common are "Taejongdae Course" and "Haeundae Course". We decided that the latter would be fun to tour around with 13 attractions. But we only selected the places we wanted to see.

Our bus took us around the Haeundae Course. We passed by the Busan Harbor Bridge. (Below is a short video).

Our first stop was at the UN Memorial Cemetery in Korea. This is the only cemetery managed by the United Nations in the world. Soldiers from many countries who contributed to the United Nations during the Korean War are buried here. Laid out over 14 hectares (35 acres), the 2,300 graves are set out in 22 sites designated by the nationalities of the buried servicemembers. Please note that proper attire is required since guards will prohibit entry if you are wearing flip-flops, miniskirts, or shorts.

United Nation Memorial Cemetery in Korea

Next was Haeundae Beach, which is one of the most famous beaches in South Korea. It is also known for various cultural events and festivals held throughout the year.

Haeundae Beach

seagulls flock if you throw food to them
We also visited the Sea Life Busan Aquarium located right in the middle of Haeundae Beach. The aquarium covers an area of 36,000 m2 and is spread over 3 underground levels and features an outdoor park.

Later, we stopped at the Shinsegae Centrum City, which is registered in the Guinness World Records as the largest shopping complex in the world. It has 14 floors and offers leisure and cultural facilities including a spa, a skating rink and a multiplex theater.

The Shinsegae Centrum City Department Store

It was half past twelve, so we grabbed lunch at the Food Park located on the 9th level. It's a food court inside Shinsegae offering variety of food choices. We had a simple meal - ramen and bibimbap.

Last but not the least, we dropped by  the Busan Cinema Center. It is the official venue of the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) - one of the most popular film festivals in Asia. It has the Guinness World Record for the longest cantilever roof that extends 85m from its column support.  It is also said to be the first culture complex worldwide to combine movie theaters and a performing arts center in one building.

Guinness World Record for the Longest  Cantilever Roof

Busan Cinema Center Art Statue

The Apec Naru Park is just in front of the Busan Cinema Center. It looks like a very huge park.

And before we knew it, our bus tour has ended. Then we stopped by at Tom n Toms Coffee to buy some snacks, which is nicely located near our hotel.

In the evening, we went out to BIFF Square and had dinner in the same restaurant. Instead of ordering Samgyetang, we tried something different the Galbitang, a hearty beef short rib soup perfect on a cold winter day.

And look at what the harsh weather did to my hands! It looks horrible! Aaargh... flaky patches and cracked skin! That's how cold it gets, lovely peeps. ๐Ÿ˜€

Anyway, despite the freezing cold weather we managed to make the best of the situation. I think we deserve a pat in the back for being optimistic and for enduring the ride on an exhilarating and shivering open-top, double decker bus. If you live in a tropical country, an experience like this makes travel worthwhile. ๐Ÿ˜Š

Till next time, 

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