Villa Escudero

Villa Escudero

FOLK SONG. Hacendero life begins riding a carabao-drawn multi-seater caritela while being serenaded by country folks in festive traditional costumes with this song by National Artists for Music Levi Celerio and Lucio San Pedro:

May pumukol sa pipit sa sanga ng isang kahoy
At nahagip ng bato ang pakpak ng munting ibon
Dahil sa sakit, di na nakaya pang lumipad
At ang nangyari ay nahulog, ngunit parang taong bumigkas,
“Mamang kay lupit, ang puso mo’y di na nahabag,
Pag pumanaw ang buhay ko, may isang pipit na iiyak.” 

Villa Escudero Mount Banahaw

Villa Escudero San Pablo

HACIENDA ESCUDERO. The landed Escudero family opened their 800-hectare coconut plantation to the public in the 1980s as Villa Escudero, a hacienda lifestyle resort.  When coming from Manila, Villa Escudero is located at the end of San Pablo City. It is situated on a land where the province of Laguna ends and Quezon Province begins.

With a majestic Mount Banahaw looming at a distance amidst an idyllic pastoral setting, Villa Escudero is reminiscent of old plantation life when the dons and doñas ruled over their hacienda.

Villa Escudero Ancestral House

Villa Escudero Ancestral houses

ANCESTRAL HOUSES. Hacienda Escudero property was bought by Don Placido Escudero and Doña Claudia Marasigan in 1872 and turn it into a sugar cane plantation. A historical marker in front of the pink Escudero ancestral house explains the hacienda’s historical significance.

Villa Escudero Katipuneros

HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE. In the years 1897 to 1901, the Escuderos sheltered the revolutionaries who fought against Spain and US. During the Japanese occupation, American and Filipino soldier took refuge in the hacienda as they retreated south to Bataan.

Villa Escudero Hydroelectric plant

Villa Escudero Lunch

FIRST HYDROELECTRIC DAM. In the 1900s, Don Placido’s son, Arsenio converted the plantation’s chief crop from sugar cane into coconut and did a lot of the modernization in the hacienda.

Natural spring water from Mount Banahaw fills the serene Labasin Lake that pours into a narrow gorge where Arsenio built the first hydroelectric dam.  A signature attraction in Villa Escudero today is the al fresco lunch set in the dam’s spillway where visitors enjoy a Filipino food buffet while their feet is soaked in about a foot-deep of running water.

Villa Escudero Museum

Villa Escudero museum collection

INTRAMUROS CHURCH. Five generations of Escuderos antiques and collection of Philippine treasures are housed and shared to the pubic in their private museum. The museum building is a replica of the San Francisco Church in Intramuros that was destroyed in 1945. At the time when Intramuros was being restored, the King of Spain gave to the Marcoses architectural drawings of the church because there were plans to reconstruct the San Francisco. As it turned out, the church was never rebuilt. The Escudero secured the drawings and erected the San Francisco in Villa Escudero.

Inside the museum, no space is spared. All 50 carrozas with its life-sized passengers  line-up the main floor. In between the unending selves of ancient pottery and ceramics are ecclesiastical and tribal art, stuff animals, and period furniture and objects. Every inch of a corner and space are filled with memorabilia from every historic period, travel souvenirs and curios, and war booty like a shrunken human head from the Amazon! And the eclectic collection spills outside the museum. In open fields are vintage fighter planes and World War II army tanks.

Villa Escudero Ifugao

Villa Escudero Singkil

FOLK DANCE. As a special treat for weekend hacenderos, traditional dances are performed in the main pavillion. A voice over narration educates the crowd about the dances’ history and inspiration. From the tribal war dance of the Ifugao highlanders and agile dance of the lowland farmers popularly called the tinikling to the dance interpretation of the Maranao epic Darangen called the singkil all are fantastically performed.

EPILOGUE. Complete with costumes, props, and authentic musical instruments, the performances were researched and choreograph by National Artist for Dance Ramon Obusan.

-In celebration of the National Arts Month 2015

Published in: on February 12, 2015 at 12:47 pm  Comments (9)  

Filipino Sorbetes



PAGASA recorded the hottest days of the year so far last February and the weather bureau said to expect hotter days ahead. One of the ways we can cool off these summer months is by eating the Filipino sorbetes.  


Just about anywhere in the archipelago, sorbeteros tinkle their brass hand-bells and peddle happy heat-relief in colorful wooden carts. Everyone can enjoy sorbetes or popularly known as “dirty ice cream” no matter how cash-strapped. Portions are affordable small, so one can simply order several servings set into crisps subtly sweet wafer cones, or sandwiched between bread buns.



Ice cream began as a flavored snow in ancient China and Greece. From its European past, Filipinos have created a kind of ice cream that is sherbet-like –meaning made with little if any milk, and therefore gently crystalline in texture. The absence of milkfat makes native sorbetes marvelously frigid against the lips.



Spaniards introduced ice cream to Filipinos as sorbetes, a high-priced rarity served at salones de refrescos. In fact, sucking is a key to drawing out flavor and cold which is how the designation came from Spanish verb “sorbeter”, (to suck).


By the time Filipinos declared themselves independent of Spain in 1898, and created Asia’s first constitutional democracy, glaces were served for dessert during the constitutional convention’s inaugural.  



In traditionally cow-less Philippines, evaporated milk was used extensively by backyard sorbetes factories and homemakers. 1899, the first American-owned ice cream parlor was set up in the Philippines. Named after its owner, Clarke’s advertised the best pink ice cream ever made from tinned milk. 



The United States emerged a leader in commercial ice cream production when it improved ice cream making machines, and pioneered in industrial refrigeration. American Nancy Johnson invented hand-cranked, portable freezer in 1846 to replace the old pot freezer called the garapiñera.


Information source: Felice Prudente-Santa Maria

Hand Made Manila Cigars



One thing I like about SM Malls lately is how they present Filipino products in an engaging way. The last time I was at the Kultura section at SM Department Store in North EDSA, tobacco-making is being demonstrated.


From the tobacco plantations, the leaves are fermented and aged for two years. After going through quality control procedures, they are places into varying classifications of wrapper, binder and filler. The classifications determine which blend would most suit the leaf. 




Basic cigars are formed by wrapping filler tobacco in binder leaf. These are then placed in a mold that gives the cigar its shape. The molds are placed in a press overnight. The tobacco is then hand rolled into the cigar. The cigars are placed in an aging room to preserve and enhance the flavors. 




Tobacco production became a stronghold of the Spanish colonial economy. It was towards the end of the 17th century when the Spanish galleon San Clemente brought to the country 200 ounces of Cuban tobacco seeds. These exquisite seeds were cultivated by the Spanish friars and flourished in the fertile region of Cagayan Valley, Isabela, a province in northern Luzon named after the Queen of Spain. 



The Spanish administration became interested in all aspects of the production and trading of tobacco that it became a state monopoly in 1780. The tobacco monopoly, which was directed by the public Treasury, was a source of wealth in the 19th century.


In Manila, the Arroceros district was the home of the tobacco factory and warehouses, which provided jobs for 8,000 women and 1,500 men. 



In 1881, the entire tobacco manufacturing industry in Manila became united and established the Compania General de Tabacos de Filipinas. This union gave rise to what is known today as La Flor de la Isabela, a name given in honor of the province where the first Cuban seeds were first cultivated and flourished. 



La Flor de la Isabel holds the title of being the first and oldest cigar factory in Asia and one of the oldest cigar companies in the world. Tabacalera is its oldest and most popular brand. Called as the Manila Cigar, it is described by discriminating cigar connoisseurs world-wide for its mild, sweet, and very spicy taste. 




What is a Pinoy Breakfast?



What is a Filipino breakfast?


Early morning in a traditional household, a farmer is getting ready to walk the field at the break of dawn. He must of course have his breakfast before leaving. In the kitchen are cold rice (lamig) and viand left over from the night before. The sinangag is prepared by moistening cold rice with water and fried briefly with a little garlic. The leftover viand is heated or left cold. A cup of hot coffee, and there’s breakfast. 



At times the lady of the house might fry or grill something quickly: dried meats (tapang baka, kalabaw, usa, or dried fish (tuyo, daing, tinapa) when no left over food is available. 


The children who are made ready for school, are served on the table with variations of sinangag, tapa, longganiza, tocino, and eggs fried, scrambled or boiled. Juice perhaps, or chocolate or coffee is also prepared. Or it may be champorado (rice cooked with chocolate, on which to sprinkle bits of dried, crisp tapa). 



Other variations would have a similar pattern but different elements like bacon, hot dogs, cold cut ham, sausages and pan de sal in place of rice or in place of pan de sal could be bagel, doughnut, croissant, bread slices or toast with jams and spreads. A five-layer pancake with thick maple syrup and butter is also another variation.


Most fast foods like Jollibee, McDonald’s, Chowking are open as early as 7:00 a.m. to serve breakfast combinations mentioned above. Other restaurants like the Pancake House, Heaven n’ Eggs, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf serve Continental or American breakfast. There are also restaurants that offer a breakfast-all-you-can feast as well as All-Day-Breakfast like Max’s, Cafe Ten Titas and Cafe Adriatico. 



In the streets of Manila, early morning vendors, tricycle drivers, students, call center agents and all types of citizens may all gather at Pares where the choice ranges from tapsilog, longsilog, tocilog, to corned beef, meatloaf, danget or daing with egg and sinangag.


So what is a Filipino Breakfast? Everything mentioned above.


Food expert and writer, Doreen Fernandez has left us with an observation about Filipino breakfast. The traditional fare in the agricultural communities was left-over or a fresh pot if nothing was left, fried into classic sinangag. With is ready to eat left-over viand or the quickly cooked tapa or fish preserved whether salted, smoked, or sun-dried. 



In a fisherman community, agahan may be set at a time when the fishermen’s boats are coming in or leaving, not necessarily at the time when farmers go to the fields.


The Spaniards brought in the elements of bread, chocolate, sausages, churros and the different ways of cooking eggs. The American presence in government, schools, and popular media introduce hot, griddle, and pancakes, ham-and-eggs, bacon-and-eggs, even Eggs Benedict, and cereals. 



Professor Fernandez explains this is the way of intercultural encounters. Many of them happen in the food realm, in the palate and the stomach. We taste when we travel, when we see new things, when we read about them in books and magazines, we tune them on our native palates adapting the food by cooking it slightly different and taking them into our diet patterns and our homes.


So let us all enjoy Filipino breakfast whether served in fast foods, restaurants, or neighborhood karinderia at anytime of the day.


Information source: Doreen Fernandez  in Palayok


Published in: on August 22, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments (4)  

Nung Bata pa si Sabel



Old folks would often use the expression “Nung bata pa si Sabel” when describing something or a practice that has been in existence a long time ago.


Don Luis Araneta used to say that the expression referred to Queen Isabel II of Spain. The queen’s profile appeared in 1860 coins and her bronze matronly statue was first erected near the foot of Puente de Epaña (now Jones Bridge) on what is now Liwasang Bonifacio 



When the Queen Isabel II was deposed during the anti-Bourbon revolution 1868, the Carlist Spanish governor-general, Carlos de la Torre, had the statue removed to a storeroom in the Ayuntamiento in Intramuros. In 1896, the monument was restored in front of the Church of Malate until a typhoon toppled it down in 1970. 



The statue was returned close to its original location in the 1970s near Colegio de San Juan de Letran where it stood up this day across Puerta de Isabel II, the gate named after her in time for viewing by her great great-grandson Prince Carlos (later became King Carlos), during his state visit to the Philippines in 1975.


Related link: Story of A Well-Traveled Statue