Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Saved by a Japanese Colonel from being burned down and witness to a former Philippine president's education. Find out more...

I recently went on a heritage architecture tour with my college batch mates in Bataan's Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar. It was an activity in our reunion-outing.

The heritage architecture tour at the Bataan resort had us check most of the 27 vintage-inspired houses that were reminiscent of the 18th to early 20th century Philippines. I was informed by our tour guide Dexter Manansala that the houses were carefully and painstakingly reconstructed from different parts of the country and rebuilt brick by brick and plank by plank.

I shared with Dexter that most of my travel blogger friends have strong opinions against such an approach to heritage house preservation, but I also reserved my own that day enough to experience his tour and how it would enrich me. My mindset was that anything that can contribute to tracing my nation's history in a creative way is educational enough for me. Besides, I was with old friends and we were also trying to catch up with each other's recent pasts. The experience of rewinding time was just right.

The tour had us going through interesting house entrances which reminded me of the bahay na tisa in my hometown of Pasig (now a city). It also made me recall other old houses I've been to like the now closed El Pasig Bakery which housed my classmate's room upstairs and old houses of my relatives in Quezon Province. The tour lasted for more than an hour.

Tour Guide Dexter Manansala
Casa Lubao: My Favorite House In Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar

One house stood out for me for looking so ornate and cheerful as the rest looked lonely. Casa Lubao is an ancestral home of the Arastia and Vitug family of Lubao, Pampanga in early 1900s. According to our tour guide, it stood directly across the Lubao Municipal Hall. It got sold off to a forgettable buyer after the death of the remaining owner in 2006. Eventually the new buyer tore it down to the detriment of the young family members and relatives of the former owner.

Now that it's been reconstructed at the resort, here are two interesting facts about this house:

1) It was saved from being burned down by the Japanese during World War II because one of the Japanese colonels actually worked as a driver for the Casa Lubao family and the bond he had with the Filipino family made him realize that they did not deserve to lose the house.

2) The owners once took pity on a poor boy in Lubao in the early 1900s when the latter would always pass by the house. The adults took in the boy and shouldered his schooling expenses. The boy would later turn out to be former president Diosdado Macapagal, father of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Eclectic Design

Noticeable on the Casa Lubao walls were carvings that mimic the paper packaging designs on native polvorons. In the passing of time, the house became eclectic in interior design. The facade looked American in style while the interior looked like it's a mix of Spanish and Filipino.

Design Inspiration

Upon further inquiry, I found out from our tour guide that not all ornaments in the house were originally set up. Some were inspired by the documentation gathered from family members who lived in the house and from relatives who frequently visited it. For instance, the fruit-inspired ceiling ornament that I adored were based on a story by the kids of the family. To fend them off from overeating fruits before and after a meal, the parents would hang fruit baskets from the ceiling, away from the reach of the kids. Most were tied on ceiling fans that were not being used. The kids, however, were crafty enough. They simply had to turn on the fans and it would rain various fruits every single time.

Read more of my Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar reunion-outing:

- Overview of My Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar Vacation (pricing and travel points)

- Water Fun At Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar (water-based activities inclusive in the resort package)

Check out my Bataan-related blog posts:

Five Reasons Why Bataan Deserves Your Visit More Than Once
• Vista Tala Resort and Recreational Park
• Attractions To See In Blissful Bataan
• Where To Eat In Blissful Bataan
• The Plaza Hotel Balanga
• The Bagac Friendship Tower
• Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar
• Vista Venice Resort


  1. For the longest time, I wanted to come to this gorgeous place but still, I haven't been there. I envy you. =)


  2. Hi thisisLOVELEE. i simply found the time. you can also just find it in your sched coz the longer you postpone it the more it won't happen.

  3. Had I known this place existed when I visited back in December of 2007, I would have made the trip there. Casa Lubao is my Great-Grandfather's home and the very home my Grandfather grew up in. I remember visiting it as a young child for family reunions.

    Thank you very much for sharing your experience and pictures.

    ADDED: The Japanese Officer, who turned out to be a member of the Kempeitai (Japanese Secret Police?), also helped my Grandfather and his family escape to the mountains at the start of WWII.

    1. It was my pleasure featuring the replica of your clan's ancestral house along with its rich story. Imagine if things turned out to be different during the Japanese occupation. We would not be corresponding this way at all...

  4. This is interesting... same as what anonymous said. Had an Arrastia family reunion December 2007 and I think I know who you are anonymous... lol...

  5. Marilen Arrastia here. I'm the youngest daughter of Valentin Arrastia (Known as Buting). I would love to see where papa lived and take my own pictures. Thank you. Robeto and anonymous fot your post.

  6. Another Pampanga history I read for the day. Thank you for always inspiring your readers. Kudos! :)

    1. You're welcome, Clyde! Thanks for visiting.

  7. nice. Some good research on Pampanga history.


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