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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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