My sister in law and her family came home in the Philippines two weeks ago to attend her co-worker’s wedding in Lipa, Batangas. Although they don’t have plans, she was the the matron of honor and youngest son was the coin bearer. Naturally, they took this opportunity to visit tourist spot in the Philippines they haven’t visited. They went to Cebu and Bohol, I didn’t come with them this time, my kids have to prioritize their school.
Anyway, yesterday was their last weekend and we went to Villa Escudero in San Pablo, Laguna. It was their first time there and I’m glad that they love it there. It was my third time, although it was my kids’ second visit to Villa Escudero they are always excited to visit the place.
My first time in Villa Escudero was in 1988, the entrance fee was something like Php 275 or Php 375 per head. My family and relatives were also there 2 years ago with my balikbayan uncle. The day tour rate now is 1,105 (adult) and 550 (4 ft below children) from Mondays to Thursdays. During Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, the rate is 1250 (adult) and 625 (children).
Remember the wedding of the late Rudy Fernandez and long time live in partner Lorna Tolentino? Their wedding was held there. How about the 80’s movie, “Hihintayin Kita Sa Langit” starring Richard Gomez and Dawn Zuleata, the final scene when they were running in the coconut plantation was also shoot there.
Villa Escudero is a working coconut plantation founded in 1872. In 1980 the Escudero family opened the plantation to the general public. Since then Villa Escudero has developed a worldwide reputation as a focal point to experience Philippine culture and history in a beautiful rural setting.
What makes Villa Escudero a perfect weekend getaway?
AERA Museum – The Escudero Familly collection of religious artifacts, silver alters, carrozas, Spanish galleon trade items, ceramics and Philippine dioramas. My 3 visits favorite I don’t fail to see was the the framed image of Jesus Christ, very unique because when you use a magnifying glass, you will see that whole new testament. It was a handwritten gift given to Don Escudero. There are also collection of clothes of former Philippine Presidents including Apolinario Mabini, Diosdado Macapagal, Ferdinand Marcos among other presidents. There are also museum guide available upon request. Take note that children 8 years old and below are not allowed inside the museum. The children could stay in a mini playground outside the museum. Picture taking is also not allowed.
Carabao Cart Ride – After seeing the museum, a cart pulled by a carabao are waiting outside to bring the tourist to Labasin Lake. I admit, I still love the feeling of the amazing ride while are serenading us filipino folk song using their guitar sometimes banduria. My niece, a half Filipina and half Latin American is amazed to what kind of animal is a carabao. I told her that it is the Philippines national animal. At first she was hesitant to ride but you could she in her face how happy she was in that experience.
Lunch at Labasin Falls – The sumptous buffet lunch is located at the Labasin Falls where guests can choose to all filipino dishes placed in a long table… from appetizer to dessert, its impossible to leave the place unhappy with the wide variety of native delicacies. What’s make it special is we opt to sit at tables placed directly in the stream and enjoy the cooling spring water flowing over our bare feet. Some kids played with flowing water from the falls and some guest took souveneir pictures with the falls as their background. My sister in law and her family enjoyed the once in the lifetime lunch. Take note that outside food and drinks are not allowed inside Villa Escudero Plantation and Resort.
Swimming pool – After lunch, guests could go to the swimming pools area, two standard pools and two kiddie pools. Lockers are also available for a minimum fee of PHP100 for your precious belongings. I don’t advise to rent a nipa hut for Php 680 since there are lots of bench situated near the swimming area. They are strict on proper swimming attire. Just in case, you forgot your swimsuit, there are available swimsuits and trunks for rent or for sale near the area.
Cultural Sow – During Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, there are also cultural show held at Coconut Pavilion at 2pm. I haven’t got the chance to see the show before so I didn’t swim not until after the show. The performers are no other than the Villa Escudero staff, they performed native dance such as singkil, pandanggo sa ilaw and many more, some are even choragraphed by the late Ramon Ubusan. The one hour show was worth it for foreigners and pinoys like me. I didn’t even know that there are some native dance that I don’t know.
Recreation – My eldest son after got tired of swimming prefer to go river rafting with his grandpa, my brother in law and his daughter tried it also. It seems the whole day is not enough to explore the villa. For those who are not the outdoor type, there are also karaoke, mahjong, ping-pong, pool, darts at the recreation hall which I didn’t tried. I guess, overnight guests spend their night in this hall.
How to get there? Its a 2 hour drive from Manila, take SLEX (South Luzon Expressway), exit to Lucena Exit, turn left at Sto. Tomas junction, slow down upon seeing the Quezon Province Boundary Arch. The Villa Escudero entrance is immediately to the left. If you got lost, simply asked the town of San Pablo.
For more information, group reservation and inquiries, please contact their Manila office at 521-0830/ 523-0392/ 523-2944