Part 2 of the Bataan Series
See Part 1 Las Casas Filipinas: A Breather in Bataan
It wasn’t that easy to bike in the cobbled yard, and that’s what added to the fun. While waiting for the tour to start, the swimming pool served as the hangout place. It was a gorgeous one, shining, shimmering, splending in the noontime sun. Not too far is a bridge that crosses a natural river and joins the main grounds to the other part of the property close to the beach. The area near the bridge is one of the beautiful spots at Las Casas. The copper tiles by the riverbank adds grandeur to the scene, which looks perfect especially during the sunset.
A few steps from the bridge is the replica of Balanga Cathedral, one of the churches in Bataan. A new addition to the sprawling property of Las Casas, the church has been a popular venue to weddings.
And then the tour started. Dexter spoke in great English, a little animated, and caught the attention of the tourists, a number of whom are foreigners. Here are some of the Spanish houses featured in the walking tour.
This house which was originally in Mexico, Pampanga (not Mexico in the Americas), is a two-storey house that serves as the reception for visitors. The whole piece is lavishly designed with beautiful wood carvings, and the ceiling on the second floor is an elaborate floral masterpiece.
Casa Tondo’s balcony is simple yet beautiful. The minimalist beauty of the house is matched with the serenity of its surroundings. Beside the casa is a solitary tree, almost bare, lifting its arms to heaven.
This house used to be in the busy place of BInondo in Manila. A major portion of the original house was transported to Las Casas to have a facelift, and now serves as the main hotel in Las Casas. On the wall of Casa Vyzantina is a large mosaic made of colored tiles, which gives the guests a warm welcome. The ambience is first class, and the ceiling of its rooms is made of tiles with an attractive, refreshing floral design.
A museum with plenty of great historical memoirs, Casa Luna is a big square house named after Juan and Antonio Luna. The house was built in 1850. The Luna house has several rooms, each of them with plenty of collectibles from the past. The windows are beautifully adorned by capiz shells. Circling the house is a hallway which, according to the tour guide, was the only part of the house where the traditional Filipino servants called “aliping sagigilid” were allowed access to.
This casa is a replica of the 16th century house of the Alonzos in Biñan, Laguna.
Also known as Casa Quiapo, Casa Hidalgo is the first School of Fine Arts of the University of the Philippines. The school gave birth to brilliant artists like Fernando Amorsolo and Guillermo Tolentino. In the 1970s, before it became the School of Fine Arts, the house was where prominent artists like Juan Luna and Felix Hidalgo used to train.
The four Cagayan houses are all from Cagayan Valley, Philippines. These are houses on stilts, designed for its location which is usually near rivers and seas. The basements of these houses were also used by the owners as storage of their crops or sometimes as pen for their animals.
A day tour at Las Casas is a meaningful revisit of the country’s heritage. It’s more than a glimpse of history, a story of ingenuity and culture made richer over time. More than the houses and the bike ride, it’s a discovery of many things wonderful.
For more information on Las Casas Filipinas, you may visit their website at http://www.lascasasfilipinas.com/.