A convoy of cars rolled by kicking their dusts on my face as I trailed the rocky roadway that leads to what seemed like a hamlet in the middle of the backwoods. Short of a kilometer from the Maharlika Highway. Those bastards, they will never know how good it feels to have an early morning walk neath these palm trees. Pastoral.
This is the 2012 Canon Photomarathon and we’re making a beeline for the playground —the sedating Villa Escudero Plantations and Resort. A vast farmstead/haven caught between the outlines of San Pablo,Laguna and Tiaong, Quezon. My first time to set foot on this much sought-after place here in Southern Tagalog and now I have to care about two things: getting on with the photo competition, which means cracking my brains out with the THEMES all over the place and — enjoying and capturing the venue’s mise en scène as well. And I’ve managed to snatch a few.
AGRI-TOURISM. The 450-hectare plantation-turned-tourist destination. Another window to the Filipinos’ colonial past.
A bit of inside story from the epitaphs:
Villa Escudero was purchased in 1880 by Placido Escudero, a Spaniard, and his wife Claudia Marasigan. It served as a sanctuary to the revolutionist against the Spaniards and Americans 1897 – 1901. Arsenio Escudero and his wife Rosario Adap provided refuge to the Filipino and American soldiers who retreated from the south and proceeded to Bataan in 1941. For organizing a group of guerillas who fought the Japanese in 1942, they were held and tortured by the Japanese.
Arsenio Escudero, Rosario Escudero married on June 29, 1923 they made Villa Escudero a home for their family, a progressive agricultural community, and a safe refuge through war, foreign occupation and political upheaval.
Their love for the Philippines and its history led them to establish the AERA Memorial Foundation and its Museum which aims to celebrate and preserve the wealth and diversity of the Filipinos cultural heritage
Bamboo rafting on the placid Labasin River.
One good thing about the photomarathon event is we were pushed to explore every nook of the plantation which, probably, we’d never do on an ordinary visit.
Taking time to smell the roses. Er, in this case, orchids.
The Don Placido Escudero Dam
Don Ciriaco Nadres, duly authorized by the Spanish government, constructed here in 1872 a dam of adobe stone and lime mortar for irrigating his land on this side of the brook. Don Hermenegildo, his son, sold the property to Don Placido Escudero and his wife Dona Claudia Marasigan, who in 1904, reconstructed this dam with hard stone and cement mortar. Their only son, Don Arsenio and Dona Rosario Adap, his wife, rebuilt this dam in 1937 for irrigation and for the hydro-electric plant, supplying power and light to the Cooperative Coconuts Products Inc. and to Villa Escudero itself.
WATERING HOLE. With benches fixed at the watercourse of the Labasin falls for some foot spa spin-off, a feast of native cuisines at the Escudero Dam. (@ 400PHP per head. Waw!)
Daily treat of Filipino cultural presentation featuring songs and dances by the plantation villagers.
Hacienda Escudero is home to hundreds of villagers, dating back nine generations, who make up the farmstead’s agricultural labour force. Today, with the shift to ecotourism, the community is much more focused in playing host to excursionists.
With Villa Escudero being a cultural turf, management puts more emphasis in reliving the long lost Filipino traditions. Below is a plantation staff clad in the classic baro at saya.
The event. The place. Salute!