Pinoy Elements in Villa Escudero

If I am to choose a place where to bring a foreigner-friend so as to fully immerse him to the culture of the Philippines, I would choose Villa Escudero in Tiaong Quezon. 

team langit in front of the museum

Villa Escudero seem to contain and characterize a wide assortment of a true Filipino culture.  Employees from engineering, to servers, to housekeeping and receptionists are all comfortably dressed in the traditional “patadyong” for the ladies and the colorful “camisa de chino” are worn by the guys.

The structures of Villa Escudero room accommodations are all native, characteristic of the traditional Filipino house known as “Bahay Kubo”.  Villa Escudero also boasts of a marvelous museum collection, majority of which are about the rich Filipino religion, clothings, history and even fauna.

After a glorious Filipino buffet lunch right in the middle of a river with a man-made waterfalls as a backdrop, guests will get to enjoy and watch a Filipino show inside a humongous pavilion.  The show features various uniquely Filipino dances, costumes and customs.  I particularly loved the energetic TInikling dance, the funny vignette about Sabong, the robust and brawny Maglalatik and of course the singing of the song Filipinas at the end of the show.  The show boasts about its authenticity for it was conceptualized and choreographed by the late Filipino National Artist for Dance, Mr. Ramon Obusan. 

Then later in the afternoon, guests would get to enjoy and listen to a “harana” (a serenade).  In the old days in the Philippines, a way for a suitor to woo a lady is by having a visit in the lady’s house.  But prior to being allowed inside the lady’s abode, the suitor needs to sing by the lady’s window otherwise known as the Harana

If the young lass showed up through her window, it means that the admirer will be welcomed inside the house after he finish his singing.  But if the lady refuse to show up and face the singing dude by her window, it signifies that she is not interested towards the guy singing outside. In Villa Escudero, their male employees get to sing old and traditional Filipino song in front of the houses where guests are billeted as if they are doing a “harana”.

But what I am most impressed about the authentic Filipino element present in Villa Escudero was its excellent food selection during breakfast.  Never have I seen a buffet breakfast as Filipino as that of the selection of dishes served in Villa Escudero! 

pinoy breakfast!

It seem that all remarkable Filipino breakfast dishes are featured in their buffet.  Aside from the usual fruits, yogurt, cereals, jams, milk and eggs, there were Filipino breakfast varieties like Champorado, Singangag, Lannganisa, Lugaw, Gatas Ng Calabao, Suman Sa Lihiya, Bibingka, Crispy Danggit, Crispy Dilis, Quesong Puti and of course Kapeng Barako.

Why do I know all these?  It is because Villa Escudero was again the chosen venue of Nengkoy for her to celebrate her 81st birthday.  Six years ago, this was the same venue for Nengkoy’s 75th birthday.  Villa Escudero no matter what year we visit still has the same authentic Filipino elements for everybody to enjoy.

nengkoy having buffet lunch by the water falls
i love it here…

Ay Lab Bilya Eskudero…

A Last-Minute Villa Escudero Visit

According to Kurt Vonnegut, “bizarre travel plans are dancing lessons from God”.

villa escudero.

This is exactly what I, JB and MJ underwent.  We initially planned and agreed to go hiking on a mountain and a nature reserve east of Metro Manila.  But when all plans has been ironed out and only a couple of days left prior to leaving, we suddenly changed our mind.  We simply agreed to scratch the plan and instead proceed at the heavenly Villa Escudero, some 2 hours travel south of Metro Manila.

And unlike the previous 2-hour travel adventures that we had in the past in which we would either rent a private van or drive our own car, we used the public transport.  We simply commuted from Manila to Quezon via passenger bus and the ever reliable tricycle.  One bizarre mode of travel for us yet surprisingly comfortable!

I am glad to have changed our plans.  Villa Escudero has remained an amazing Filipino destination!  In summary, this is how fun we had in this beautiful place…

you can never go wrong with this beautiful philippine destination

Kapag biglaan talaga… Natutuloy!!

Villa Escudero Waterfalls Was All Mine!

It’s been several times that I have been to Villa Escudero and with all those repeated moments that I have been there I always fail to have my photo right at its famous waterfalls.  Maybe it’s because in my previous visits, I feel discouraged because this prominent spot at Villa Escudero is always full of people trying to have their selfies or pictures taken.  There is always a frustrating photo bomber lurking within your camera frame.

But with my recent revisit, I made sure that I not only be taken a picture with, I also made sure that the whole waterfalls is all mine!

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magic!

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Here’s a great tip for those who are planning to visit Villa Escudero and have the waterfalls all by yourself.  All you need to have is your mobile phone, a gorilla pod (a camera tripod) and an alarm clock.  First thing you need to do is to set the alarm clock the night before you plan to have your awesome photos taken.  Set it at 6:00 AM and make sure to wake up at 6:00 AM.

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don’t go chasin’ waterfalls…
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i love this shot!

Then early in the morning bring your camera and tripod to the waterfalls.  Set it up and have awesome photos and videos taken!  Be there while everyone are having their breakfast.  Be there before all tourists flock the site.

Ang Bongga! Mag-effort sa ‘ngalan ng pikchur!

Villa Escudero: A True Gem of Filipino Country Life

Nengkoy wished that her 75th birthday be held and celebrated in the vast coconut plantation estate that was converted into a tourist destination located south of Metro Manila.  True enough, her wish was made into a reality when Nengkoy, twenty seven crazy members of my family and I trooped to Villa Escudero Plantation & Resort on her birthday.

Every member of my family was treated with a 2-day glimpse of a typical life of rural Philippines.  Upon arrival we were served with refreshing “gulaman” as a welcome drink.  After which, the whole pack were led to the magnificent museum that houses the marvelous antique and unique collections of the Escuderos.  There were all forms of Catholic statues and statuettes.  We saw an overwhelming array of Filipino costumes, jars, vases, indigenous forest hunting gears, stuffed Pinoy-once-endemic fauna and other eclectic treasures made, found and discovered in the Philippines.  I was particularly was astonished by the collection of authentic handwritten letters of Philippines’ National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal displayed in that marvelous museum.

facade of the museum

After feasting our eyes to the overwhelming collections found in the museum, we were then taken for a ride on a carabao-drawn cart for a tour around the vast resort.  Seated at the end of the cart were two resort staffs in traditional Filipino clothes.  One played the guitar while the other sang traditional Filipino songs while the cart was being drawn to lead us to checked-in at our respective nipa-like villas built right at the edge of a serene lake.  The villas were reminiscent of a traditional Filipino house called “Bahay Kubo”.

my monster "pamangkins" on their carabao caravan ride
jumpshot!!!

We then immediately proceeded to one of the highlights of our stay.  The scrumptious buffet lunch served and eaten al fresco style few meters away from the base of a waterfall.  Still typical of a Filipino dining set-up, we ate on native bamboo-craft-woven plates with banana leaf as its lining and our soup bowls were coconut shells!  Breakable chinaware was non-existent!  Flowing water on the ground touching and lashing our feet add up to the delicious dining experience.

An hour after lunch, we then headed to one of the resort’s pavilions where a Filipino cultural dance display is being held.  The show featured various ethnic and colonially influenced Filipino dances performed by the employees of the resort.  The costumes, the music, the colors, the graceful dance moves were all but a rewarding add-on during our stay in Villa Escudero.

a piece of a young coconut palm leaf weaved to form like a fish handed to me by one of the dancers

After the show, we proceeded to our assigned villa for a short afternoon rest.  The villa is not equipped with TV, sound system and not even an internet.  All you got is the refreshingly beautiful scenery of what the old Philippines were plus the melodious sound of birds lurking around the area.

Later in the afternoon, majority of us lined up to get our respective paddles plus a life vest for we did a little of rowing at the pristine lake using an old-fashioned kayak in the form of a bamboo raft.  While we do the rowing, other members of the family were busy trying to catch live fish from the lake or just busy lazing around.  In the same afternoon, a number of employees of the resort serenaded Nengkoy at the villa singing a couple of Kundiman songs plus of course the classic birthday song in Tagalog version.

erika and the band!!!

Dinner buffet was served inside an elegant pavilion.  This is the moment when Nengkoy was greeted by the singers performing during dinner time and was surprised when a birthday cake was brought to her table for her to make a wish and blow the candle.  After which, the rest of the night was spent bonding and chitchatting before everybody hit the sack with smiles on our faces.

nengkoy about to blow her birthday cake candle

Our stay and adventure in Villa Escudero to celebrate Nengkoy’s 75th birthday is no doubt one of my family’s memorable experiences!  I actually don’t know how to end this writing.  But one thing is for sure Villa Escudero is one authentic representation of Filipino pride, culture and extravaganza.

It made me want to dance the Tinikling as sang by the 50’s circa Pinay diva, Sylvia La Torre…

Nais kong umindak sa saya…