Tag Archive: San Pablo City



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.

 

 

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Kundiman Singing+ Carabao Ride in Villa Escudero

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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!

 

 

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

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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!

 

 

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Cultural show at 2pm. Villa Escudero

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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.

 

 

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Villa Escudero dancers.

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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.

 

 

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Ugu Bigyan Pottery workshop. Tiaong. Quezon.

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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Patis Tito

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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!

 

 

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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.


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?

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Country Life @Villa Escudero


It is a long weekend and we took the chance to visit Villa Escudero where a vast coconut plantation estate has been converted into a tourist destination south of Manila. Left Manila 6:30am and reached this hacienda well before 9am. A welcome drink of “gulaman” , a local drink made of diced gelatine and sugared water was most refreshing.

 

Day Tour Inclusions

 

Country life, then and now, is what Villa Escudero is all about.  Our kids, aged 12 and 9, accustomed to urban living, would do well to have this ‘introduction’ to provincial life.  The adults? Well, we can all do with this break.  And country air is definitely something of a luxury these days, despite the heat. The day tour costs 1,250 pesos or nearly US$30.  Included in this package is a Museum tour of the owner Ado Escudero’s antique collections housed in a church which has now been converted into a Museum. Nearby, another museum is under construction.  Guess that means that Mr. Escudero must have accummulated more collections to warrant another structure.  That gives us a good reason to return to this place.   Also included in the package are:  buffet lunch, carabao-driven cart rides, swimming, rafting in the lake, and a cultural show.  Not bad. The elder child, aged 12 turning 13 soon,  said she thought it would be some laid-back plantation visit with not much to do.  She and her 9 year old brother were pleasantly surprised with the set up in this “real FARMVILLE” . (For those of you who play Farmville on Facebook , you know what I mean. )  Both kids and adults tried everything.

 

Museum Tour

 

No photos inside.  But this church turned Museum has quite a collection of “floats” used in religious processions, and many many religious statues.  The antique altar,  sculpture of the Last Supper,  collectors’ items such as Philippine currency/money,  local costumes,  Spanish-inspired furniture, paintings, handwritten letters of the national hero Dr. Jose Rizal,  paintings,  stuffed animals from the Philippines and other places like Africa and neighboring Asian countries,  butterfly collections, etc.  Tells us that this Escudero family is most surely a family of collectors.   And they have the money to indulge in this passion! I pointed out to the kids the local alphabet —-  which is non-existent, if not “not known at all” to many Filipinos.  Oh yes Virginia, we had our own alphabet way before the Spaniards came to rule our country for nearly 400 years.  We have to thank the Escuderos for this, as well as the other collections for many like our kids to appreciate.

 

Estate Park and a “Private Property”

 

The Museum has a plaza where one finds a sculpture of the Escudero ancestors, another Museum under construction,  and various World War II mementos like cannons , tanks, etc.  All around, there were also sculptures of typical Filipino scenes.  I like these, as i found it easier to explain to the kids how country life was in the olden days.  Like those sculptures of a man “courting” this lady.  No eye contact, while the man tries to offer a gift to his lady love.  The lady, in turn, acts coyly as women then were expected to behave. Then there was this scene of a little boy riding a carabao,  a person “picking trees” with this long pole,  a little boy feeding piglets. The premier spot in this plaza belongs to the Mansion where the Escuderos presumably lived then, perhaps till now.  The pink Mansion sits in this prime spot fronting the plaza , with Mount Cristobal in the background. On a clear day, it is a beautiful sight……matched only by the serenity of the estate lake trimmed by cottages and trees.

 

Lunch and A Cultural Show

 

In between swimming, we succeeded in dragging our 9year old back to an area where lunch is served. The place has a man-made waterfalls with water flowing underneath several tables and benches. We took our lunch while our feet enjoyed the cool waters. I even caught sight of small black fish in the 6 inch waters while enjoying my lunch. Lunch was a typical Filipino and Fil-Spanish cuisine. Oh , and some Chinoy or Fil-Chinese additions too like the vegetable rolls. I had a lot of these rolls , in between bites of diced pork chops (over-grilled though, if you ask me) and grilled tilapia fish. The peanut sauce was good for some of the freshly sliced cucumber and other veggies. The pumpkin sauce , the beef caldereta , and desserts like banana cue and tapioca balls complete the lunch. 

 

After lunch, we trooped back to the Coconut Pavilion and waited for the 2pm cultural show. There were dances from Northern , Central and Southern Philippines. As with many dance performances, the finale is the “singkil” dance from Southern Philippines. The costumes, the colors, the graceful dancers, and the sequence of tribal and national dance numbers made up for a good show. 

 

Time for Some Rowing

 

I made the good decision not to join the group who took turns rafting.  The lake is not so big nor wide.  But my arms would do me in, for sure,  and so I opted out.  Watching them row out, then back,  I could tell their arms tired out rowing .  Of course, one end of the lake is the waterfalls where we earlier enjoyed our lunch. If Martin wins hands down enjoying all the pools and playing in the waterfalls area,   Anna Patricia gets a trophy for rafting.   She rowed well in between laughter as her aunts alternated to be her partner rower in the same raft.  I didn’t think I’d have the energy to row back to safety.  A pair of tourists probably felt the same way AFTER one of them dropped into the lake as she tried to disembark from the raft.  She was all ready with one of her legs out to step off the raft into waiting hands .  But the raft MOVED.  So she goes straight into the lake.  Oh oh.

 

The Carabao-Driven Cart

 

We left the plantation (yes, it still is a working coconut plantation) nearly 5pm, and took the same carabao-driven cart back to the parking area. Can’t end this blog without mentioning these: 1.   When taking this ride, be sure NEVER EVER TOUCHING THE ROPE tied to the carabao. One of us did,  and the carabao took that to mean we were ready to go. 2.   If you have kids with you,  don’t try singing along with the kundiman singers riding the cart.  (Kundiman is local songs sang way way back by our forefathers.  Not unless you don’t care if you are embarassing them or not.  In our case, I think I embarassed our kids enough. So there,  we spent a good holiday in Villa Escudero.  Just 2 1/2 hours south of Manila.  If driving, take the Southern Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and exit at 50 (Lucena, Legazpi and Batangas exit).  Turn left at the Sto. Tomas junction and left again at Tanauan-Sto. Tomas junction.  Head straight down, bypassing towns like Alaminos and San Pablo City Proper.  Slow down upon seeing Quezon arch and turn left immediately. Villa Escudero is at the boundary of San Pablo City and Quezon province.

 

More photos in my TravelBlog site.