The Enchanting Villa Escudero
by Danny Tariman
I had been to this beautiful resort by the river not just once. And the times I went, I am always captivated but its rural charm – the warm barrio welcome at the reception, the carabao-driven cart that took my family to the resort while being serenaded with old songs, the rural village setting where the village folks are wearing kimona and sarongs! Wow! I am driven back to the 1960’s!
This is Villa Escudero, a farm-resort of the rich Escudero family, at the boundary of Laguna and Quezon Provinces. It is an almost 2-hour drive from Manila South.
As you enter the farm-resort, you will be refreshed by the greenery – well trimmed grass cover under tall coconut trees.
The first you will notice is a church-looking structure which is the Escudero Museum. It houses thousands of religious items and artifacts collected by the family through the years. Most of the religious items are rare pieces of art; it is really heartening to know that somebody had preserved these. We were told that some of the “carosas” still go out for procession on Holy Week at a nearby town.
Beside the museum is a family’s Villa – an old Spanish-style house. This is a private area but tourists are allowed to view and take photos up to the gate only.
There are also a number of World War II artifacts in the front yard.
The enchanting experience begins when you start your mini travel to the main resort. You will be taken by a carabao- (water buffalo-) driven cart. In my family’s case, we were extra lucky to get a white carabao! While we were riding, a couple was serenading my family with old Filipino songs! Truly amazing!
We passed by a “rural village” where the folks were wearing old Filipino traditional dress (kimona and sarong). They people greets you with a smile along the way. It was like a ‘history trip’ for my family where we were taken to the 60’s way of life!
When we reached the main resort, wow more surprises!
The wide river, so deep and calm. The view is just very relaxing. My family tried to go upstream by paddling our rafts, going from one side of the bank, and making a U-turn when we a bit far from the base. Enjoyable!
For a swim, there is a 2-level pool where you can safely swim. The 2 pools are connected by a slide where you can hop from the upper level and make a big splash as you touch the lower pool!
We had our buffet, eat-all-you-can lunch at the river. Yes, literally – the tables and benches are on the river, you will have your 2 feet submerged in water while you are eating. What an experience! And the food, wow, plenty of choices – all of them Filipino native dishes!
To cap the day, you are treated to an afternoon of cultural shows. At the first part, you will be serenaded by an ensemble of stringed instruments – rondalla, guitars, and base – playing old time favorites. Caution: after eating a full lunch, you might sleep during this very relaxing afternoon.
After the rondalla ensemble, is another spectacular entertainment showcasing the best of Filipino dances from different regions. There is the famous “tinikling”, “pandanggo sa ilaw”, “singkil”, and more. The dance songs are played by the rondalla ensemble. Quite a treat for a family to see our cultural past.
There are a few more to discover: the cottages lined along the river banks, the tropical birds caged in various spots of the resort, the beautiful garden, and of course the souvenir shop.
We had so much fun as a family. Truly a wonderful weekend!