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Monday, July 11, 2016

Quezon: A night in Villa Escudero



July 2, 2016. Saturday, when we drove all the way from Bulacan to Quezon Province to visit one of the most go-to places in the area -- Villa Escudero Plantation and Resort.

Villa Escudero promises a feel of the Philippine culture, offers many activities and attractions.

We got there quite easily. Having passed through the similar route when we went to Cagbalete Island few years ago (see post here), this place is familiar to us. On board our private vehicle, we drove via SLEX, exited at Sto. Tomas and continued onto South until we reached Tiaong, Quezon.

We left the house in Bulacan at 4:30 AM, had a quick stop in a gas station along SLEX for around 30 minutes and arrived in Villa Escudero Mc Donald's at 8:30 AM. We decided to eat our breakfast before heading towards Hacienda Escudero's main gate, which is only 250 meters away from McDonald's.


As we entered the main gate, a guard greeted us and asked where to. He didn't ask for any ID, instead he gave us direction -- go straight then at a round about, turn left. Five more minutes of driving, with the view of coconut trees around, we arrived at the Reception Hall of Villa Escudero.


VILLA ESCUDERO RECEPTION HALL

Traditional filipino vibes can easily be felt upon entry. The staff, who are wearing traditional Filipino clothing, greeted us with Sago juice.

Villa Escudero Map. Available in their website => http://villaescudero.com/amenities-activities/
Online booking is available in in their website. But since it was always raining the few days prior, we opted not to book in advance. It was June - our rainy season. I don't think rooms would be fully booked anyway. And was I right!

Villa Escudero Website: http://villaescudero.com/

Day tour and overnight packages can be found in their website => http://villaescudero.com/accommodation/

screen grabbed from their website => http://villaescudero.com/packages/

screen grabbed from their website => http://villaescudero.com/packages/
We stayed at a Longhouse unit for a night. This fits our entire group, consists of 5 adults + 2 kids. Kids between 3-6 are charged half the regular price. Kids 0-2 are free. Senior citizens have discounts too!

Inclusive of the overnight accommodation are free access to the museum, pool (unfortunately, pool is under renovation as of this time), carabao cart ride, bamboo rafting, three buffet meals - lunch at the waterfalls, breakfast and dinner at the Coconut Pavilion.

Cash and Credit Card payments are available.

Stubs are given after setting our bills and this is for the entrance, breakfast, lunch and dinner.


Check in Time: 1:00 PM 
Check out Time: 11:00 AM

It was only 9:30AM. So we were advised to roam around the resort, visit the museum first, then go to the waterfalls area for lunch that starts at 11AM. Then lastly, check in at 2PM.


MUSEUM

Taking photos is strictly prohibited. There are plenty staff inside the museum to watch over those who would try to take photos, so don't dare! :)

There is a baggage counter at the side of the museum.




This museum house a vast collection of the Escudero family from all over the world. We all enjoyed looking at the items, especially the animals and insects!!!

After our time in the museum, we went to the pick-up area where carabao cart rides awaits for passengers who would go to the Waterfalls.


CARABAO CART RIDE




One of the highlights of this trip is the carabao cart ride! A guitarist and a singer who are seated at the back are serenades us while the carabao carries us to the waterfalls!!! So awesome!


LUNCH AT THE LABASIN WATERFALLS

calesa dropped us off at this point. everybody must walk from this point to the falls.

When we arrived at the waterfalls area, the place was packed!!! Now, it's best to get here early -  around 10:00 AM-10:30 AM to secure a table near the falls. There are tables available for those who do not want to get their feet soaked, for Seniors and with babies.

The waiters are so nice. They assist guests, make sure everyone is seated, very attentive to the needs. Some would gladly offer to get food for guests and they'd bring a LOT!

The only problem here are the flies. They are just so many. My kid lost his appetite actually because of it.

Then, it started to drizzle, breaking away all diners. Too bad, we had to cut our lunch short and wasn't able to shower in the falls. It was only 11:30AM. We just decided to check in.

man-made waterfalls
there are two buffet tables in the area. one near and infront of the falls (right side of this photo) and the other one at the back.
that's caldereta, vinegar with chili and squash soup in coconut shells. grilled pork, cucumber and papaya salad, lumpia, pansit, steamed kangkong, roasted chicken and rice in banana leaves.
The Filipino food is good. Nothing really exceptional about it, but overall, it's good. I like the touch of filipino culture in it like using coconut shells as bowl, banana leaves on the plate and using bear hands to eat is highly recommended. Buko juice in its shell is served as well as softdrinks but for a fee.


LONGHOUSE UNIT

From the waterfalls, we were fetched by an electric car. We dropped by the Reception Hall first so we can pick up our luggage from the car. After that, we were transported to where the Longhouse units are.

Information area. We showed our accommodation receipt here. The receipt was given by the staff at the Reception Hall at the entrance.
a big round center table welcomes guests, with this table cloth


Longhouse frontview. all rooms have unique flower names - Azucena, Banaba, Calachuchi, Campupot, Dahlia, Jasmin, Melenguas, Pitimini, Rosal, Rosas, Sangumay, Kakawati - PWD accessible
ceiling fan, lights, and wooden ladder rack for wet clothes
well ventilated unit due to its high ceiling. a ceiling fan at the center. no need for an aircondition
a double bed and a single bed
loft which accommodates more people (6 adults in total for the entire unit). extra beds are placed here. below the loft are bathroom and toilet.

toiletries. 7 tooth case set, 7 soaps, 7 shampoo/conditioner for 5 adults and 2 kids
this sink separates the toilet and bath
glass doors, which I don't like because silhouette can be seen from outside
hot and cold shower

PHILIPPINE EXPERIENCE SHOW

The Cultural dance show is open at 2:00 - 3:15 PM on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and selected holidays. It is held at the Coconut Pavilion.

This is one of another highlights of the trip. Better come here early to be seated at the front row. It showcases Philippine cultural dance led by the staff of the resort - from the maintenance department, reception department, etc... It is a joy to see dances originated from different parts of the Philippines. Definitely, very entertaining!!



BAMBOO RAFTING

A rafting pier is located just right beside the Pavilion. Everyone must wait for their turn before staff can put life vest on. Only 2 persons can accommodate each raft and can only go to as far as one point to another. Only 7 years old and above are allowed. There is no time constraint, though I don't think anyone would take that long. Paddling is exhausting enough. Bamboo rafting closes at 5PM.

hubby and kid in black and blue. kid had so much fun while hubby was totally wasted

After our paddling session, we went back to our room to get some rest. Then we went out again to stroll around the rest of the afternoon. Bike rental is also available.

Different types of bikes for rent for P100 pesos per hour.

We visited the chapel, which is located at the Heritage village. It's cool to see residential houses inside the resort, which later on we learned are inhabited by some of the resort's staff.

So nostalgic! It's reminiscent of our old house in our province when I was a kid. 

We also visited the playground, which the kids love!!







That night in our room, while preparing ourselves for the dinner, we heard men serenading us from the outside. They do this in every occupied room.

The Management does not encourage personal/individual tips. Instead, there are three areas guests can leave tips. Then every end of the year, they will consolidate all the tips and divide and distribute equally to each staff! This is smart! This means, all staff shares equal responsibility in making sure all guests are happy and satisfied.

Buffet dinner was served at 6PM. We ended our night with a hefty dinner at the Pavilion. We could have gone to a cafe that night and drink some alcohol. But we were just too tired. We could also have gone to the waterfalls after our rafting instead of strolling around. It could have been nice too. But I was already tired. It was a long day, filled with activities and I must say I was satisfied with our first day.


Day 2. July 3, 2016 (Sunday)

We checked out the waterfalls that early in the morning to hopefully bath in it. Unfortunately, it was closed. It opens at 10:30 AM, just in time for the lunch buffet.

bare dam
water comes from the river above. atop is the hydroelectric power plant

"Don Ciriaco Nadres, duly authorized by the Spanish Government, constructed here in 1872 a dam of adobe stone and lime mortar for irrigating his land on this side of the brook. Don Hermenecildo, his son, sold the property in 1890 to Don Placido Escudero and his wife, Dona Claudia Marasigan, who in 1904 reconstructed this dam with hard stone and cement mortar. Their only son, Don Arsenio, and Dona Rosaior Adap, his wife, rebuilt this dam in 1937 for irrigation, and for the hydro-electric plant, supplying power a ndlight to the "Cooperative Coconut Products, Inc.", and to "Villa Escudero"".

That morning, we checked out Cafe Indigo, just near the Longhouse. They have tables overlooking the river. We ordered coffee while enjoying the view. Wifi is available.

We also tried fishing, insisted by the kids. We bought a fishing rod for 100 pesos with bait (bread coated with raw egg) at a store in the Longhouse area. Fishing area are at the pavilion and rafting pier. Sadly, we didn't catch any as the fishes are so little. They were just nibbling the bait.





Since we haven't experienced the waterfalls yet, we went back at around 10:30 AM. We did a quick bath and snapped a few photos before we headed back to our room for check out.

In summary, here's how our adventure went:

July 2, 2016 (Saturday)
9:30 AM- arrived at the resort. settled our bill for an overnight stay.
10:00AM - 10:50 AM - began our tour. first stop, Museum. kids also played at the playground just right beside the museum
10:50 AM - 10:55 AM - kalesa ride going to the waterfalls
11:00 AM - 12:00 lunch at the Labasin Waterfalls Restaurant
12:30 AM - checked in at Longhouse cottage
-- Free Time --
2:00 PM to 3:00 PM - watched Philippine Experience Show
3:00 PM to 4:00 PM - did bamboo rafting
4:00 PM onwards - strolled around Heritage Village
-- back to our room --
6:00 PM - dinner buffet at the Coconut Pavilion
-- free time / lights out --

July 3, 2016 (Sunday)
7:00 AM - breakfast buffet at the Coconut Pavilion
9:00 AM - checked out Cafe Indigo
10:00 AM - did some fishing at the rafting area/pavilion
10:30 AM - bath at the watefalls
11:10 AM - checked out.


I realized that had it been I knew waterfalls only opens at 10:30AM, and that bathing in waterfalls is our highlight, my best itinerary would be:

Day 1:
Museum
Lunch at Labasin Waterfalls Restaurant
Check in
Watch Philippine Experience Show
Bath in the waterfalls (it closes at 5PM)
Dinner
Cafe Indigo

Day 2:
Wake up early to tour around the Heritage Village and Chapel by foot or bike (bike rental is available)
Breakfast at 7AM
Rafting and Fishing
Check out

Indeed, it was one of the best experience we ever had! It was a beautiful relaxing place. So many things this resort can offer - lunch at waterfalls, museum, cultural show, playground, sightseeings, fishing, rafting. On top of that are the super friendly staff!!!!!

This place is highly recommended for everyone. 


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