Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar: Protecting heritage, promoting Filipino craftsmanship

Walk down memory lane in this heritage resort in Bagac, Bataan

It's not an exaggeration to say that we could all be proud of Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bataan. This heritage resort, home to more than 60 heritage houses, has already gained numerous awards here and abroad, such as the 2021 "Best Historic Hotel in Asia and the Pacific" by Historic Hotels Awards of Excellence. This citation placed Las Casas among the 300 hotels and resorts across the globe that are recognized for preserving and maintaining properties with historic integrity, architecture, and ambiance. 

Preserving and maintaining heritage buildings and houses take a lot of efforts than building a new one. To do that, Las Casas hires craftsmen from different parts of the country to secure the authenticity of each piece used in building or putting up the houses. There are painters, stained glass artists, wood carvers, and artisans who manually make clay bricks from scratch who take around three months to make a set of bricks — from forming the clay to baking and sun drying.

Visitors can spend a day touring the different artists’ areas and personally witness their craft in creating art pieces for each room and in molding old school bricks to replicate the design of the olden times.

“I think it's Acuzar’s mix of will and passion for what he has done. This is his life,” said Jorge Vilanova, Las Casas general manager. Vilanova is referring to Jose “Jerry” Acuzar, owner of the resort, the founder of New San Jose Builders, and is currently secretary of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development. “We do everything from scratch — the bricks and the wood, to the paints, which are carefully mixed by the artisans.”

Apart from preserving heritage houses, the resort also promotes culture by hosting cultural shows, dances, and plays — providing livelihood and additional income to young performers who are passionate about Filipino culture. 

Each visit to Las Casas is not complete without the balsa or boat tour. This experience allows guests to cruise along the Umagol River and be in awe as they see the intricate details of each house and the artworks along the canals of Estero de Binondo buildings.

To help local visual artists, the resort’s majestic Hotel de Oriente also serves as an art gallery for different shows. In fact, some of National Artist Guillermo Tolentino’s masterpieces can be found at the Plaza Guillermo.

The tour of Las Casas is not only a visual delight but also one that can soothe body and mind. For those who want to experience the traditional Filipino hilot (massage), sound healing, or tai chi, the resort partnered with the Majayjay Wellness Center to offer these services. 

Every tourism experience is not complete without food. There are several dining options inside the resort— Kusina ni Nanay Maria for homestyle Filipino food, Cafe De Rio for Spanish food enjoyed al fresco, and La Bella Teodora for Italian cuisine.

Las Casas is currently building a marina for yacht and boats and is looking forward to offering more water activities to guests once this area is completed. 

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