Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar
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|Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar|
View of the hotel grounds
|Type||Hotel and heritage park|
History and description
José "Gerry" Acuzar, owner of New San Jose Builders, Inc., started to rebuild Spanish colonial-era mansions in Bagac in 2003. In 2010, the heritage park was opened to public. Spread over 400 hectares, the park features a collection of 27 Spanish colonial-era buildings, with the entire site made to resemble a period settlement. The resort has a restaurant, a beach, calesa rides and a swimming pool. It plans to have 50 such heritage houses.The houses were chosen based on their historical, cultural and architectural value.
The houses were often of the Bahay na bato (Tagalog for "stone houses") type, which have stone foundations on the first floor and made of wood on the second floor. These houses were carefully dismantled, transplanted from around the Philippines. The original locations of the structures were in Manila (Tondo, Binondo and Quiapo), Quezon City, Bulacan, Pampanga, La Union, Sorsogon, the Ilocandia and Cagayan. Acuzar often bought houses that were in a state of neglect, and in some cases also purchased the lot where the mansions stood.
Each house was dismantled in situ brick by brick, numbered, transported to the Bagac site, where they were reassembled and restored. For parts that were missing, woodwork and bricks were replicated to resemble the original structure. For this, the Ciudad employs a workforce of 130 people, including 10 wood sculptors, three metal sculptors, 30 craftsmen who design ceilings, and construction workers. There are five architects, two of whom are historical architects, and two artists.
Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar contains 30 heritage houses.
- Casa Baliuag 1 - (built in 1898; owned by the Vergel de Dios family). The house contains wood carvings with floral motifs. The original owner of Casa Baliwag was Kapitan Fernando Vergel de Dios and Doña Carmen De Leon; it was inherited by their eldest daughter, Juliana VD Reyes. It was originally across the town's San Agustín Church. Family members fondly called it "Luwasan" since it was the house referred to when going towards the town or to Manila. Kapitan Fernando had another house called "Hulo", which was going towards the "dulo" or end of town.
- Casa Baliuag 2 - originally in the compound of Iglesia ni Cristo in Baliuag. It was owned by a González.
- Casa Cagayan -a collection of four wooden houses built on stilts. Such houses were usually regarded as those of poor people in Cagayan in the early 1900s.
- Casa Candaba - (built in 1780, owned by the Reyes family) was home to the Spanish Governor-General whenever he visited Pampanga.
- Casa Jaen 1 and 2 - Two houses from Jaen, Nueva Ecija, originally owned by the Esquivel clan. Casa Jaen 1, also known as the Don Hilario Esquivel House, was built in the 1900s and won the House Beautiful Award in 1917 by the Sunday Tribune.
- Casa Lubao - (built in 1920; owned by the Arastia and Vitug families) served as a storehouse for rice and sugar, and became a Japanese garrison during World War II. A story goes that a Japanese colonel stopped his men from burning the house out of gratitude to the Arastia family, who had unknowingly hired him as a driver and gardener before the war.
- Casa Mexico - salvaged from a junk shop and reconstructed based on an old photograph.
- Casa Luna - (owned by the Novicio family) houses a museum. Built in 1850, its original location was in Namacpacan (now Luna, La Union). The town was renamed to honour revolutionaries and brothers Antonio and Juan Luna, whose mother was a daughter of the Novicio clan.
- Paseo de Escolta – used old and new material to recreate commercial buildings in the early 1900s in Manila. With 17 rooms, it houses a hotel and shops.
- Casa Bizantina – (built in 1890) is a three-storey, intricately designed bahay na bato from Binondo, Manila. The Instituto de Manila (now the University of Manila) once rented it for elementary and high school classes until 1919, when the school moved to Sampaloc, Manila. After World War II, the building was leased to tenants, who later gave way to a squatters' colony before the building was demolished in 2009.
- Casa Meycauayan - (built in 1913 by the Escota family) was built in the City of San Fernando in Pampanga. It was rebuilt in the 1950s in Meycauayan, Bulacan, where Rogelio Urrutia bought it.
- Casa Unisan - (built 1839) is the Maxino house in Unisan, Quezon. It is made of hardwood complete with trapdoors. Only one girl survived the massacre of the family and that tragedy makes the house much talked about not only for its beauty. Its ground floor is now the hotel's Marivent Café, which serves Filipino food.
- Casa Hidalgo - (built in 1867) was the first campus of the University of the Philippines’ School of Fine Arts, of which its owner Rafael Enríquez was the first director. Thence, it has housed the first school of architecture in the country, a bowling alley, a dormitory, and flesh joint.
- Casa Biñan (Alberto House) - is a partial replica of the house of Teodora Alonso, the mother of national hero José Rizal. Acuzar used the original wooden door, stairs and a few planks when he recreated it. He abandoned the planned donation of the house by its current owner, Gerardo Alberto, after new broke out regarding his planned acquisition of the heritage house. Hundreds protested his acquisition, while numerous heritage groups called the acquisition a "tragedy" in heritage conservation. The original house has been 'gutted', as half have been transported to Las Casas.
The management of the resort has been criticized many times in the past due to the nature of its acquisition of heritage structures. Many of the heritage houses, like the bahay-na-bato and torogan, have been acquired by the resort, and transported to its current location, putting away the essential geographic and cultural value of those house to each of the structure’s original domains. Outrage have erupted when the management tried to get the ancestral house of national hero, Jose Rizal, from Calamba before. Half of the building was taken, leaving the half in Calamba. Numerous heritage groups called it a "tragedy" in heritage conservation. Another controversy is the acquisition of two torogons, or royal Maranao houses in Lanao. The torogans were supposedly on track to become one of the properties of a UNESCO inclusion in the Tentative List, but the inclusion was cut short due to Las Casas intervention and eventual acquisition of the royal houses, which it eventually took piece by piece and transported to Bataan.
- "...a New San Jose Builders project". Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
- Orejas, Tonette (8 July 2013). "Where memories, heritage line the streets". The Tribune. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
- Guerrero, Amadis. "Heritage houses by the bay". Planet Philippines. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Las Casas Filipinas de Açúzar.|
- Official website - Las Casas Filipinas
- Official website - New San Jose Builders
- Interviews and controversies - Jose Acuzar