Tag Archive: Quezon

Been here. Done that. Posted photos here and there.

When friends called to ask who arranged our trip, or that they didn’t know you can swim (in the pool) and go bamboo-rafting in Villa Escudero, I began to realize that many go there just for the lunch by the falls and the cultural performance. Some didn’t even bother to do the museum tour where one finds centuries-old carrozas (floats), religious icons, family memorabilias (Escudero family), the Filipino alphabet, currency and doll collections from all over the world, and so many other antique collections of the Escuderos.




Kundiman Singing+ Carabao Ride in Villa Escudero


Narrow Bamboo Rafts. Great for rowing! Villa Escudero.



In my earlier blog on Villa Escudero, I highly recommended this trip to balikbayans, foreign guests, or simply to families longing to show their young children how life was in earlier times. It’s both a nostalgic and educational trip for the young and adults. The statues to be found there may not look so appealing but they showcase many Filipino traditions and lifestyles. Here’s where you can recount those stories of your younger days to the little ones or those born and grown in foreign lands who only read about them. The statues leave better memories. They complement the stories!




Physical (Rowing) and Soothing at the same time. Villa Escudero.


Lunch is served! By the falls. Villa Escudero.



The highways make these trips a breeze. You can leave as late as 8:30am, driving through SLEX and ACTEX till you reach the boundary of Laguna and Quezon. Soon after you pass the boundary marked by a Welcome Arch, turn left towards Villa Escudero. You register and pay P1,400 for a day tour which includes a Museum Tour, lunch by the falls, carabao rides, use of facilities like swimming pool and bamboo rafts. Senior citizens get a hefty discount and pay only P1,000!




Cultural show at 2pm. Villa Escudero


Performers are ALL employees and their kin. Villa Escudero



Arriving way before lunch, we did the Museum tour then took the carabao ride to bring us to the lunch area by the falls. Lunch was platefuls of grilled fish, chicken and pork belly, caldereta (beef), salad and banana cues! After lunch and while waiting for the 2pm cultural performance, you can take a dip by the pool and/or take one of the narrow bamboo rafts and exercise those arm muscles amidst a grand view of the cottages and trees by the water. Soothing yet physical, the activity renders you longing for a glass of halo halo or young coconut juice to savor while watching the dancers perform on stage.




Villa Escudero dancers.


Cultural show’s choreography by national artist Obusan, no less!



The cultural show ends at 3pm. Early enough to drive a few more minutes from Villa Escudero to visit Ugu Bigyan’s Pottery Workshop. Getting here was a challenge. The only landmark from the Maharlika Highway driving further past Villa Escudero was the Petron Gas Station and Iglesia ni Kristo on your right. Soon after passing them, take a left and look for Alvarez Village. Ugu’s workshop, gardens cum dining place is on your left. No signs, but easy to spot the red brick one-story house with a sprawling garden as soon as you enter the village.




Ugu Bigyan Pottery workshop. Tiaong. Quezon.


Patis Tito. Formerly Kusina Ni salud of Viajes del sol fame. San Pablo City



From Ugu’s place, we drove back towards San Pablo City to check out Sulyap Cafe. On our way there, we found a sign towards Patis Tito, formerly Kusina ni Salud. Really, finding these Viaje del Sol spots is quite a challenge. We had snacks here of suman (glutinous rice) and another forgettable “kakanin” and sat there watching how unkept the place was. Guess they spruce up the place only for big groups. I hope.




Patis tito. Ex-Kusina Ni Salud



By the time we reached Sulyap Cafe after missing several turns and U-turns, we were tired but still full from the merienda. We visited the art gallery inside before an intended supper there, but found the place too gloomy to spend dinner time there. Dark, gloomy, nearly haunted. Maybe the place is suitable for romantic dates. Not for us. So we chose to simply drive back to Manila instead.




Patis Tito


Patis Tito. Kusina Ni Salud. Viajes del sol.



The entire trip to Villa Escudero with sidetrips to Ugu Bigyan, Kusina ni Salud and Sulyap Cafe & Gallery lasted from 8am to 8:30pm. Not bad. It’s a good roadtrip….. Just arm yourself with a good dose of patience looking for these spots with hardly any markers. Happy driving!




Patis Tito. Resto and garden.

Ugu  Bigyan's Pottery Workshop.

Ugu Bigyan’s Pottery Workshop.

Sulyap Gallery Cafe. San Pablo City. Viajes del Sol.

Sulyap Gallery Cafe. San Pablo City. Viajes del Sol.

This list was emailed to me. Have been to, seen and photographed some but not all. Thought I’d throw in some of these photos here for a photowalk — to inspire us all to visit each site. It’s just around the corner! NEED HELP. IF U HAVE PHOTOS AND WANT TO SAVE ME THE TRIP, PLEASSSSSSEEEEE SEND ME. THANKS.

Oldest Steel Church

Despite the discrepancies in the dates of its founding, the San Sebastian Church is the only steel church in Asia built in the late 18th century. It should have celebrated its centennial around 1991. Yet, it seems that not even the Catholic administration paid any interest in its historical significance or in the fact that it was Alexander Gustave Eiffel who designed it.

San Sebastian Church

Oldest Restaurant

New Toho Food Center (1888, 422 Tomas Pinpin Street, Binondo, Manila) Five Chinese friends set this up in Binondo, Manila, where the restaurant still stands, in a newer structure also on Tomas Pinpin (formerly San Jacinto) Street which was built after a fire razed the wooden building back in 1984. That explains the slight change in the name. It used to be called the Toho Antigua Panciteria.

Oldest Province

Aklan, originally known as Minuro it Akean, is considered as the oldest province in the country and believed to have been established as early as 1213 by settlers from Borneo. Its first ruler was Datu Dinagandan. In 1399,Datu Kalantiaw grabbed the throne. In 1433, Kalantiaw III formulated a set of laws that is known today as the Code of Kalantiaw.

These days, Aklan is better known as the province to which Boracay belongs.

Oldest Town

Unisan, Quezon could be the oldest town in the Philippines. The people of Unisan claimed that their town is now 481 years old, having been established in 1521, the same year that Ferdinand Magellan discovered the Philippines. All other towns in the country were established not earlier than 1565, when Spain formally occupied the Philippines as a colony.A Malayan queen named Ladya reportedly founded Calilayan, the old name of the town. In 1876, Calilayan was renamed Unisan which was derived from the Latin word uni-sancti, meaning “holy saint”. (Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Shoreline of Unisan, Quezon

Oldest City

Cebu City is considered as the oldest city in the country, as this was the site of the earliest European settlement established by Spanish conqueror Miguel Lopez De Legazpi in 1565.


Oldest Fort

The first Spanish settlement in the country, Villa del Santisimo Nombre de Jesus, was located inside Fort San Pedro in Cebu City. The fort’s construction began in 1565.


Oldest Street

Calle Colon in Cebu City is considered as the oldest street in the country. Named after explorer Christopher Columbus, Calle Colon was first constructed in 1565 by men of Miguel Lopez De Legazpi.

Oldest Stone Church

The Baclayon Church in Bohol is considered as the oldest stone church in the Philippines. But some historians disagree, claiming that San Agustin Church in Manila deserves the title.

Inside Baclayon Church in Bohol

Church historians claim that the cornerstones of San Agustin Church were laid as early as 1571, 25 years before Baclayon Church was built in 1596. But most people believe the title should be kept by the latter, since it is situated in the island first occupied by the troops of Miguel Lopez De Legazpi, the country’s first Spanish governor general.

Bohol was where a friendship was sealed with blood between Chieftain Rajah Sikatuna and Legazpi. The event is known today as”The Blood Compact.”

Oldest Hospital

The San Lazaro Hospital could be the oldest hospital in the country. According to Pampango historian Zoilo Galang, the San Lazaro hospital was established in 1578; Enfermeria de Naga, 1583; and Hospital de San Juan de Dios, 1596.

Oldest Church Bell

The oldest church bell in the country is said to be the one found in Camalaniugan, Cagayan. That bell was reportedly forged in 1595.

Oldest Bridge

The Jones Bridge, formerly known as Fuente de Espana, was first built in 1701. It was rebuilt by the Americans in 1916 and renamed after Atkinson Jones.

Oldest University

The University of San Carlos (U.S.C.) in Cebu City is considered as the oldest school in the country and in Asia. Formerly known as the Colegio de San Ildefonso, it was founded by the Spanish Jesuits on August 1, 1595. This makes the Cebu-based university older than theUniversity of Santo Tomas (1611) in Manila andHarvard University (1636) in the United States.

The University of Santo Tomas, however, contests this title. Formerly known as the Colegio de Nuestra Señora Del Rosario,U.S.T. was the first school, which got a university status in 1645. U.S.C. became a university in 1948. UST also claimed that the original U.S.C. was closed in 1769 as a result of the expulsion of the Jesuits. It reopened in 1783 under a new name and ownership. But the USC officials stick to their claim. The university observed its 400th foundation day on August 21, 1995.


Oldest Vocational School

The Don Honorio Ventura College of Arts and Trades (DHVCAT) inBacolor, Pampanga is said to be the oldest vocational school in Asia. Augustinian Friar Juan Zita and civic leader Don Felino Gil established the vocational school on November 4, 1861.

Oldest Company

Ayala Corp., one of the largest conglomerates in the country, is also the oldest existing company around. It was established in 1834 by sugar barons Domingo Roxas and Antonio de Ayala. It was later renamed as Casa Ayala, then as Ayala y Compania and recently as Ayala Corp.

Oldest Bank

In 1881, Domingo Roxas, an ancestor of the Ayala family, became one of the first directors of Banco Español-Filipino De Isabel II,which was founded by virtue of a royal decree issued by Queen Isabel II. The bank issued the country’s first currency notes the following year. Considered as the first private commercial bank in the country, the bank came to be known as the Bank of Philippine Islands in 1912. The oldest savings bank was Monte de Piedad, which was established in 1882.

Bank of the Philippine Islands Branch in Vigan

Oldest Rizal Monument

What can be considered as the oldest in the country is a 20-foot metal structure standing at a park in Daet, Camarines Norte. Its construction reportedly began on December 30, 1898 and was finished in February 1899. In comparison, the Rizal monument at the former Luneta Park was built in 1912.

Oldest Insurance Firm

Insular Life Insurance Company was established on November 26, 1910, becoming the oldest insurance agency in the country.

Art Gallery.  Old House for the night.  Good food. 

You may think that San Pablo City is way too far to have dinner.  On a good day, or a good night,  it is not.  More so if you have lined up activities for the day and planned to unwind and indulge yourself come dinnertime on your way back to Manila.  It would also be a good excuse to have a few winks after dinner on that 2 hour drive home.  Yes, just 2 hours. Give or take fifteen minutes or so. 

That, in fact, is the idea behind the Viajes del Sol.  The only problem with this Southern Luzon Travel Itinerary is that one is presented with too many dining choices that it is sheer agony having to choose from among these off-the-beaten path cafes and inspiring artists’ studios.

In San Pablo City alone,  it is a chore to decide where to dine.  If you only had a day, you need to decide beforehand if you wish to dine with a lakeside view, visit a sculptor’s workshop, a nature sanctuary, an organic farm, or an art gallery.  And that’s only in San Pablo City.  The final choice is Sulyap Cafe, where a visit is best timed around dusk when the “bahay na bato” is lighted up and turns magical.   The structure was originally from Tiaong, Quezon and transferred to this one-hectare property in San Pablo City where another structure houses an antique shop from lamps to beds to trunks to chairs. The dining areas actually involve 2 structures: one is good for big groups where one finds a sumptuous buffet spread, the other cozier as in superb dating place. 😉

Right across the restaurant but still within the one-hectare compound is Casa Obando. Newly-opened. Newly-minted Bed & Breakfast place, following the same “bahay na bato” theme.  I would love to stay a night here sometime soon. 

Magical , isn’t it?  And there’s the antique shop too, if you care to do some serious shopping.  Do notice the “burda” (laces) and “espejo” (stained glass) used extensively in the interior decor. 

I “lost” myself in this antique shop, just checking out the antique rocking chairs , until I realized I was the only left inside the shop cum art gallery.   I knew I was alone even before I looked around. Creepy. 

So tell me, who wants to book a room here?  Or a table? Er….have I talked about the food yet?


Art and the Artist.  And then, food.

We had an  early start that day, and felt really spent by the time we reached Tiaong, Quezon where Ugu’s Pottery Shop and Gardens are. No, we had no reservations for dinner here.  Just dropping by on our way to Sulyap Cafe where we had a dinner reservation.  That is to say that we plan to visit again, if only to check out the food here. Good reviews, I hear.


We wandered around.  The decor and the layout made for a very relaxing stroll especially after a tiring day.  Ugu was around when we got there.  He proudly showed us around his shop and the gardens.  

I am way past shopping. Especially on this humid day.  The art pieces make for great conversational centerpieces for a coffee table.  Some in the group went shopping while I was quite happy just walking around.  

The first hut beside Ugu’s residence is not strictly Filipino, but more Asian-inspired.  The decor, the arrangement of interesting art pieces set the mood.  Like someone pushed PAUSE.  Just what we needed. 

Just what I needed.

The reclining Buddha we saw conveys exactly that message as I felt my eyelids droop in tandem with the setting sun.  Just before dusk, I glimpsed a tiny hut in another property beside Ugu’s and wondered if he also owned the adjacent lot.  

Before we knew it, it was time to board the bus. This stopover is almost a dream.  Was I really there? 

Disclaimer:  This is not a food blog. Neither is this a travel blog. Just musings and ramblings of an old, tired lady on her way home.

I wasn’t feeling so “wasted” after all.  The Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, Quezon was truly a must-do destination.  After all these years, I finally got there.  But not without some sidetrips.



The Ultimate Philippines Tours brought us to Graceland Estates and Country Club in nearby Tayabas, Quezon.  This was a sprawling estate so named because…………. Need I tell you?  All of ten hectares, featuring a Burnham Park-ish lake complete with small boats,  an al fresco restaurant overlooking the lake, and I hear some eco-trails  meandering around the vast property.   Soothing for the soul.   If only the heat wasn’t so annoying!



As our bus passed Palaisdaan sa Tayabas featuring floating tables  at a time when hunger pangs reminded us of this obligatory activity, we felt almost sorry the bus didn’t stop to  unload us.  But our uber cool local guide Tina Decal was right.  With all those buses and vans parked right outside,  we can certainly do with some peace and quiet.  We were relieved to be away from the crowds at this time of day and spend a leisurely, peaceful lunch in Graceland Estates and Country Club in the same town.   No, there was no Elvis Presley crooning while we enjoyed our lechon (thanks, Tina!), hardinera ,  corn soup, fish fillet and veggies.  But we cooled enough to get ready for another afternoon of exploring other towns of Quezon.   Oh sure, the buko (young coconut)  a la mode (with ube ice cream!) made our day.   And I am saying that even after having “sprayed” ube ice cream all over my white shirt.  Now, don’t ask me how I did that!


Having changed into another cotton shirt,  I was ready with the rest of the troop for Sariaya.  We skipped the Mahoyan Festival as we had no energy for the suman-throwing spectacle.  Instead,  we dropped in on some of the ancestral houses in Sariaya, Quezon and relived the glorious and rich past of the coconut barons of Sariaya.



The Sariaya Coconut Barons

If Negros had their sugar tycoons,  this quaint farming town at the foot of Mount Banahaw had its share of coconut or copra barons!   Judging by the number and ownership of the heirloom houses in the area though,  the wealth derived from coconut/copra farming was limited to a few families.   And so, while Negros had their Jalandonis, Lacsons, Locsins, Gascons, Hofilenas and what have you………Sariaya had their Rodriguezes, the Galas, the Enriquezes, the Alcalas, the Arguelleses.


We visited 2 of these ancestral houses. Both beautifully preserved by the descendants of these prominent citizens of Sariaya circa 1920s or so.   Pre-war.   Money was soooo good they built these mansions.  In the case of the Gala-Rodriguez House,  this Art Deco House was built for an ailing wife and mother of 7 children only for the wife to die without seeing the house completed.   This same mansion housed the office of the chief of the Imperial Army during the Japanese Occupation. There are stories about how this Japanese Army officer liked the  beautiful daughter that the family had to hide her in the cellar whenever the Chief is around.  Our local tour guide didn’t miss pointing to us the hidden passageway to the cellar right under the family’s dining table.   Since it was the HQ of the Japanese forces in this area,  this same house was a target of the US forces.   The story goes that a bomb was dropped at the back part of the house.   That big hole created by the dropped bomb is now a swimming pool separating the Mansion to an area where refreshments are served.



From the Gala-Rodriguez House, we took the back gate to walk around town and witness the Agawan Festival.  The houses here are not as lavishly decorated as the houses in Lucban for the Pahiyas Festival. We also didn’t see the “kiping” rice wafers that were used to make “aranyas” and other buntings in Lucban.  Instead, we found loot tied to bagakays on display.  As soon as the procession and the blessings are done,  the crowds grab the loot from these young bamboos called bagakay.   Too tired to join the crowds around the procession,  I watched from another heirloom house around the corner.



Rodriguez House , now called Villa Sariaya,  is such a lovely ancestral house.   With its wide and many windows lining the walls from the living room through the dining and kitchen areas,  we were thankful for the breeze that would pass in through one wide window and out another.   The family of Don Catalino Rodriguez  was also in town and the great grandchildren paraded before us in Filipiniana costumes and friar outfits, much to our delight.  The entertainment turned hilarious when some in our group donned similar Filipiniana outfits (they are rented out for only P300) for a “photo-shoot”.  What a nice interactive activity to end the day!   All these we enjoyed while partaking of the local snacks — tamales, jacobina, lemonada, etc.   Somehow, we were reminded of how life was a century ago.  Life without internet, digicams, cellphones, DVDs, etc.  A life when money was better spent on………..mansions and all those parties hosted in those pre-war days.  Oh,  life must have been real good then.   The Maria Claras of that era surely didn’t miss Elvis Presley. 😉


Thank you Tina and Spanky, for a wonderful day in Quezon!   If I were to spend another day sleep-starved and in punishing heat ,  I will spend the day with you guys.  Cheers all around!