Friday, August 10, 2012

Villa Escudero: Getting Off the Grid, Plantation-Style

Villa Escudero Pink Museum and Grey Clouds III
Eye-catching Villa Escudero Museum
A short backstory: I was sick with fever two days running before this assignment.  But the idea of leaving the city behind even for just a day seemed like what the doctor ordered.  Surrounded by nature, it seems that recuperation and restoration just came natural, even giving me the strength to spend more time outdoors, even paddling down the river in the late afternoon.  In any case, here's the review that appeared in the July - August issue of Inflight Magazine.
 
The location.  Villa Escudero in Tiaong, Quezon is about two-hour's drive from Manila.  The estate, founded in the 1880s by Don Placido Escudero and his wife, Doña Claudia Marasigan, used to be a sugarcane plantation but was converted into a coconut farm in the early 1900s.  It still is a working farm but now serves as a tourist destination.
Villa Escudero Indigo Banded Kingfisher
Treat for birdwatchers:  Indigo Banded Kingfisher
Rooms. You can book an apartment-style unit or riverside cottage, both designed using natural materials combined with the usual concrete and metal. We stayed in one of the longhouse apartments that can fit up to nine adults. Its high ceiling, wall openings and electric fans kept the room cool even at midday. The river cottages have hammocks in verandas that jut out over the waters of Lake Labasin. The Gumamela Suites are the only river duplex units with air conditoning (P3,730) per person for a group of four) while the Katakaka are single detached river units with air conditioning (P3,750 per person for a group of five).
Villa Escudero Longhouse Room
Cool longhouse accommodation
Food. Lunch by the waterfalls contines to be a popular attraction. There's something special about wading in ankle-deep cool water and feasting on inihaw na baboy, manok and tilapia (grilled pork, chicken and fish), and ginataang gulay (vegetables cooked in coconut milk).   I also had coffee (good one) and sandwich (rather cold one) at the Indigo Cafe while deciding whether to ride along the river.
Villa Escudero Dining at the Falls
Ever-popular lunch by the waterfalls
Activities. There's paddling along the small stretch of Lake Labasin, the carabao ride around the villa, the museum tour, swimming. There's a recreational hall for billiards, table tennis, even ballroom dancing.

I like. The place being unpretentious, the folk songs and carabao rides, the natural attractions. Wi-Fi wasn't available when we were there but I didn't mind.  Certainly not a place for those who would want to spend the day cooped up inside the room, playing online role-playing games.
Villa Escudero Zen Reflection
Zen reflection by the river
Verdict. Villa Escudero is perfect for people who want to slow down, for families seeking closer-to-nature bonding activities; ideal place to bring foreign or balikbayan guests to sample local food and culture, and birdwatchers and nature trippers (I was lucky to have spotted the resident Indigo Banded Kingfisher, the second image in this post, near the waterfalls).  

Essentials. The longhouse apartments' rates start at P2,200 (about US$52) per person for a group of six to nine; the air-conditioned river units, P3,370 per person for a group of four. Day tour packages are at P1,250 (Mon-Fri), P1,400 (Fri-Sun and holidays); children at half rates. Prices are inclusive of welcome drink, museum tour, carabao cart rides, use of outdoor recreational facilities and lunch at the waterfalls. • Contact Tel: (062) 521.0830 • Visit www.villaescudero.com

InFlight July-August Villa Escudero
Attribution: InFlight Magazine July-August 2012 issue • Some text were added which were edited from the printed version due to space limitation and/or editors' preferences

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