Money well spent on architectural conservationBy EV Espiritu
Inquirer Northern Luzon
BAGAC, Bataan—People gladly pay to help this man sustain his advocacy of conserving the country’s architectural legacies.
“We can proudly tell the world that the Philippines has iconic houses and not just the nipa hut or the slum houses,” says businessman Jose Acuzar.
He offers visitors the chance to stay in an authentic stilt house common to the Candaba swamps of Pampanga or in an 18th century Spanish stone-walled mansion inside a heritage resort here called the Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.
Acuzar, president of New San Jose Builders Inc., says he has been collecting old houses and transporting them brick by brick to Barangay Pag-asa here since 2003.
He has created a menagerie of 27 different houses representing various ages, customs and social standing of Filipinos.
Acuzar has already spent almost half a billion pesos on his passion to preserve these structures, which he now offers as luxury homes and historical artifacts for a fee.
For P15,750, a family can rent the Baliuag heritage house, which has two bedrooms that can accommodate eight people.
Guests can make believe they have been transported to the time of Crisostomo Ibarra (a character in Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere), because of the Maharlikan bed, the rooster that crows in the morning, a repast of classic Filipino meals, and a tour on a horse-driven wagon of the compound where they are serenaded by young Filipinos in 18th century costumes, says Theresa Kho-Solvason, general manager of Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.
Visitors will also find interesting the canals built in the resort to simulate Venice and its romantic gondolas, she says.
Las Casas offers a day tour for P1,200 to P1,500 per person. There are also special rates for educational tours and a live-out meeting package for P1,200 per person.
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