It’s Carl’s first time in PH! Our first-stop? Villa Escudero Plantations and Resort in Tiaong, Quezon Province! It is a 800-hectare coconut plantation and hacienda, a resort offering village and museum tours, swimming and rafting activities, kamayan style buffet lunch in a waterfall restaurant, and a Philippine cultural show. With all the said amenities and activities, the Villa is no doubt a good choice to bond with the family, a.k.a. my clan. 😉
It was a holiday when we visited the villa, so we paid 1600PHP per head (2017 rate, holidays) for the Day Tour. I booked everything online, after getting information that they will be holding the cultural show on that day, as it was grandma’s request to watch it. (See rates and day tour information here)
If you are traveling with your family or a group of friends, it is best to hire a van or a car than to commute, so as to avoid the traffic jam hassle. The villa covers three municipalities, 1 in Laguna and 2 in Quezon Province, so it is really huge. However, you would only get to see a part of it. As soon as you get to the plantation, you and your family will be welcomed with free drinks, and after sorting out the registration and bookings, you’re all good to go to experience what the hacienda has to offer!
A little historical background: the hacienda was founded in the 1880s by Don Placido Escudero and his wife, Dona Claudia Marasigan. It used to be a sugar cane plantation, until their son Don Arsenio Escudero converted it to a coconut plantation in the early 1900s. He eventually built the country’s first hydroelectric plant, the Labasin Dam, to operate his coconut factory and the Villa Escudero house, which he and his wife, Dona Rosario Adap, built in 1929. In 1981, they opened the hacienda to the public as a recreational arena where tourists can enjoy a stay in a rural-inspired resort or a day tour with a range of activities included. Read more about the villa here.)
So, what are included in the day tour? Is it worth your 1600PHP?
Activity 1. The Escudero Private Museum. This prominent pink building in the villa is actually not a church but a museum! It houses a rich collection of religious antiques, coins and bills from all over the world, artefacts, relics, butterfly collections, etc. Seriously, it is a showcase of the family’s wealth. I, of course, admire the family’s love for museum-worthy stuff, but imho, the museum was too crowded. There was too much stuff that some items did not get the limelight they deserve. This is evident in most private museums in the Philippines though.
Unfortunately, taking photos inside the museum is forbidden, so I cannot show what I meant with what I wrote above. But in general, the pink building with the beautiful facade is worth the visit!
Activity 2. The carabao cart ride. PH’s national animal is truly impressive and most foreign tourists, if not all, get fascinated by the friendly beasts! The carabaos bearing the colorful carts are well-fed and given Filipino traditional names. From the museum, the cart will pick you and your group and take you to the cultural hall, which is adjacent to the swimming pools, the river and the waterfall restaurant. While riding the cart, a couple of talented staff will serenade you with traditional Filipino songs. Det var så deilig!
Activity 3. Outdoor recreation at its finest! As soon as you get off the carabao cart, you are free to roam the villa and try the outdoor activities! The most famous, probably, is rafting. Then, there are also pools and playground for the kids and adults, huts to rent so you can go fishing, and the cultural hall where you can enjoy some delicious Filipino treats, eg. my favorite ube halo-halo – a mix of fruits, beans, icecream or leche flan and crushed ice! My darling husband, of course, got to enjoy his cold beer. It was too hot for us so we just stayed at the cultural hall, while the rest of the gang went rafting and swimming. We also had fun observing lizards and just enjoying the nature around. 😉
Activity 4. Lunch at the waterfalls. This is another famous attraction in the hacienda. Guests enjoy kamayan style (eating with your hands) buffet lunch while having their feet soaked in cold, running water from the Labasin waterfalls. The dining tables were lined up below the spillway of the hydroelectric dam. Carl found this attraction unique and refreshing! Be mindful of opportunistic mosquitoes though! And make sure to wash your hands before and after eating.
Activity 5. The Cultural Show. This is a great way to introduce Philippine culture and dances to your foreign spouse or friends. We absolutely enjoyed the show, with tinikling and the sabong dances on top of the list! I also managed to give a clearer picture of what the concepts tampo and lambing mean in Philippine context. 😉
Note, however, that the cultural show is held only on weekends and holidays. The lunch at the waterfalls is also dependent on the weather. 🙂 After all the said activities above, we were taken back to the entrance. Have I mentioned that the carts are PWD-friendly?
A visit to Villa Escudero proved to be fun and enjoyable, a great presentation of Filipino rural life and traditions. It is also possible to stay overnight or even longer at the resort, but we had a full-blown itinerary during our three-week vacation in the Philippines, and I guess one day was more than enough to enjoy what Villa Escudero has to offer. 😉
For inquiries and bookings, visit http://villaescudero.com/