Travel through time: Celebrate Independence weekend at these dine-and-tour heritage places in Metro Manila

Published June 11, 2021, 3:57 PM

by R-Wayne F. Lipardo

As we celebrate Independence Day, here are some of the must-visit heritage places in Metro Manila where you can dine and enjoy sumptuous food even while raining. Be amazed by their colonial architectural designs and structures as they give you a glimpse of our rich history as a nation.

Palacio De Memoria

Built in the 1930s, this pre-war neoclassical mansion was beautifully restored to its former glory by the Lhuillier family back in 2000. Today, Palacio De Memoria offers its guest a tour of its Chapel Museum, which showcase European religious paintings and sculptures; the seven-story grand mansion, which is an events place and auction house of European antiquities; and an alfresco Spanish restaurant called “The Loggia” operated by famous chef Margarita Fores located just beside the grounds of this mansion.

Once you’re inside this property in Paranaque City, which is just a few minutes away from Baclaran, you wouldn’t even feel that you’re in the middle of a busy city because of its relaxing tropical trees, water fountains, and decommissioned airplanes now used as a bar and events place displayed on its vast ground. All these features give guests a unique dining and heritage tour experience.

Cafe Ysabel

This hidden and cozy restaurant in San Juan City, Manila was once visited by world-famous personalities such as Queen Sophia of Spain and the late Anthony Bourdain. Cafe Ysabel has been in the business since the 1980s and is owned by Chef Gene Gonzalez.

The structure that houses Cafe Ysabel is a heritage house built in 1919 and formerly owned by a Spanish family. As you dine inside Cafe Ysabel, you’ll notice the beautiful ceilings and old chandeliers as well as the artistic patterns of the machuca tiles. As you go further inside, you’ll reach the beautiful veranda with its big windows overlooking a lush green backyard perfect for an afternoon meal and romantic dinner.

Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar

When we hear Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar, we always think of its international award-winning hotel and heritage collection of old houses in Bagac, Bataan. But the Las Casas Group also has a property in Roosevelt, Quezon City. Las Casas Quezon City, though smaller in size compared to its Bataan location, still is a feast on the eyes for people looking for a quiet and nostalgic dine-and-tour experience in Metro Manila.

As you enter the property, you’ll be welcomed by a beautiful fountain and the Casa Juico, a post-war mansion infused with Art Deco-style designed in 1960 and now houses an indoor restaurant and serves as an event’s place.

Once you’re inside this mansion, you’ll notice the beautifully intricate designs of the wall and ceiling made by Filipino artisans. At the back of the mansion is another sight to explore with your eyes and camera as you will see beautiful replicas of old Filipino-Spanish architectural houses giving you an ambiance of a typical Filipino-Spanish el pueblo.

Grand Café 1919

If you are looking for a restaurant and cafe near the famous historic sites of Manila then head on to Juan Luna Street in Binondo, which is just a walking distance to the famous Manila Chinatown Arch (New Binondo Chinese Arch), and you’ll see this neoclassical building built in 1922.

The building, which houses Grand Café 1919, is one of the many old heritage buildings in Binondo and was the first branch of HSBC bank in the Philippines. This building is a perfect example of adaptive reuse because as you enter the café, you would be surprised that a former bank used to occupy this beautiful two-story restaurant.

The design of this cafe is a fusion of old and contemporary furniture and interiors. As you explore the second floor, you’ll see the old beautiful pictures of Binondo and Escolta during its heyday. The big windows typical of neoclassical buildings in the area give you a glimpse of the glory days of the once center of commerce before Ayala Avenue of Makati and BGC of Taguig were even built.

All of these must-visit dine-and-tour heritage places in Metro Manila are reminding us to appreciate the culinary expertise of our Filipino chefs, the advocacies of Filipino entrepreneurs, and their staff who are considered modern-day heroes as they dedicate their lives to preserving our rich history. Indeed, our independence from our former colonizers has left us a unique Filipino heritage in terms of food, arts, and architecture. It is not enough to know their significant stories, we must protect and preserve them for the next generation to inherit and appreciate. If you plan to visit these dine-and-tour heritage places, call them first to check all health protocol guidelines and their operating hours. Stay safe and healthy! Happy 123rd Philippine Independence Day!

EDITOR’S NOTE: The author is a vlogger who loves to travel and share his experiences on his YouTube channel “The Wayner.” R-Wayne is also an advocate of heritage conservation, environmental protection, animal welfare, and a certified HR professional.