Tucked in the peaceful town of Bagac, Bataan is a collection of Filipino century old houses known as “bahay na bato”. The Bahay Na Bato, a style of construction, is a mixture of Filipino-Spanish influences. A house built on stone foundation with wooden legs designed to stand earthquakes. Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar is a brainchild of Mr. Jerry Acuzar who owns a beachside property converted into a historical village resort.
Our recent travel transported us back in time, and fortunately we have witnessed an enthralling world of old Filipino houses. The Acuzar village depicts the old Filipino town where twenty-two bahay na bato stands on a cobblestone streets. One who wants to go around the area may either take a leisure walk or take the kalesa ride. The grand houses surrounding the area were formerly owned by prominent families in their respective provinces. These houses were either abandoned or dilapidated. Acuzar bought them from its present owners, then transported each and every part of the house, then rebuild it to its present location. Just exactly how it looked ages before us.
The first school of UP College of Fine Arts
Aside from the historical houses, the village is also a resort; it is located next to the beach where one can enjoy swimming. There’s also a mid size pool available for guests. A restaurant and bar is also present in the area. The main objective of Mr. Acuzar in building this village is to showcase and preserve the old Filipino-Spanish architecture. One of the most notable structures in the area is the Casa Hidalgo, the grandest house in its time. It was the first School of UP College of Fine Arts. Its notable products were Fernando Amorsolo, Tomas Mapua, Carlos Francisco, and Guillermo Tolentino. Accordingly, when the school was transferred to Padre Faura, the building was poorly maintained it became a bowling alley, dormitory, venue for sex live shows and an abortion clinic.
The once glorious Escolta is also pictured in this village. A building patterned from Escolta’s shopping district stands and serves as the hotel. Each room is beautifully designed by Mr. Acuzar’s wife, who is also an interior designer herself.
Each house has its own story to tell. The creation of this village is coupled with controversy. I do not want to delve into that issue. It is my humble thought that while it is true that the situs is part and parcel of these old houses’ historical importance, I would rather have it transported to a place where it can be preserved and kept to its former grandeur than letting it decay and perish in a matter of time.