Less than 3 hours away from the city capital Manila, Philippines lies the only coconut plantation open to the public as a resort destination, the secluded Villa Escudero Plantations and Resort. Yes, you got it right, a resort right in the smack center of the coconut plantation of a 2000-acre lot.
The resort offers a lot of many activities that completing it all on 2-day weekend is never enough. Your PHP1400.00 entrance ticket includes a day tour around the grounds, memorial museum visit, a unique dining experience where you need to take your shoes off (no kidding), and a carabao cart ride around the grounds, cultural show at 2PM, bird watching or bamboo rafting. Upon arrival at the reception building, you are received with a delicious refreshing citrusy drink. Drink up because it’s really good! Promise.
Inside the reception building, adorned by beautiful native chandeliers, is the souvenir shop, information desk and receiving area. The building is surrounded by fig trees, my first time to see one in The Philippines.
After the warm reception and cool drink, there’s a short briefing about the coconut plantation and the resort.
Villa Escudero Plantations and Resort
Villa Escudero Plantations and Resort is owned by couple Don Placido Escudero and wife Dona Claudia Marasigan. Their son Don Arsenio Escudero, who was an agriculturist and industrialist built the Labasin Dam, the country’s very first working hydroelectric dam to supply water to the vast coconut plantation. The vast coconut plantation opened to the public in 1991 as a resort destination that offers a glimpse of the lives of coconut farmers and their culture.
To give guests a taste of what a simple life is like in a laid back barrio or barangay in the olden times, a carabao cart will take them around the grounds. While enjoying the scenic ride, additional entertainment is offered by the locals serenading the eager guests with Tagalog folk songs.
Villa Escudero Memorial Museum
First stop on the day tour is a visit to the Memorial Museum, a church building with pink facade. Its not that difficult to guess what the couple Escuderos’ favorite color is. They a have a pink ancestral house and a pink Memorial Museum. Make a wild guess.
About 90% of the priceless artifacts inside the museum is owned by the family and the rest are donated to their foundation, the AERA (the couples’ name) Memorial Foundation.
There are a lot priceless collections, dating as far back as 18th century, part of the artifacts are also from the couple’s travels abroad and around The Philippines. Many of the religious items and life-size statues take part in the town’s annual fiesta paraded around town in carrozas.
One really artifact that got embedded deep in my memory was this pen portrait of Jesus Christ. Take a really, I mean super-duper close look, and you will realize that it is an actual text of the New Testament of the Bible. I remember it being located by the door but not really sure if it’s on the second floor.
By the way, you are not allowed to take photos or videos while inside the museum. There is a baggage deposit counter by the right side of the entrance where all guests are required to deposit their stuffs.
Lunch at Villa Escudero
Next stop, lunch! Included part of your admission ticket is a buffet lunch behind the Labasin hydroelectric dam. It resembles a waterfall and the dining hall and the buffet is located at the bottom of this ingenious man-made fall. Imagine this backdrop plus the lush greens as a backdrop while eating your lunch. Interesting eh? So let’s go.
Everything about the buffet is of course native. Native appetizers, native salads, native meat and vegetable dishes and to lock everything in, finish it off with native desserts of banana-que or local fruits. And everything is lovingly displayed on a blanket of banana leaves and each dish is served on a clay pot, beautifully garnished with some petals here and there.
For your drinks, you have the choice of soda, bottled water or fresh coconut served in its heavy shell with the top tapered off. Of course, to match it with the sumptuous local pansit I just had, and to stick to the native ambience we have all day, I indulged myself to a cool coconut drink.
Of course before going in to the dining hall at the bottom of the waterfall, expect your feet and part of your legs to get wet in the calf-deep water. It was really a first time experience for me to dine while there is ice-cold running water tickling my feet.
After lunch, the tour moves on to the resort’s spacious auditorium that offers a spectacular view of the Labasin Lake and some bungalows on the left side of the lake. You can book these bungalows for overnight accommodations. The bungalows or Executive Riverside Units are built with locally sourced materials and with matching interiors made of native products. There is a terrace that opens up to the tranquil view of the lake. A superb way of having your morning coffee and for doing your meditation too.
The cultural show is only held on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays here at the grand auditorium. If you plan to come back and plan to bring your foreigner friends for a quick getaway, take note of this important cultural show schedule.
Unfortunately, Mister Sun was AWOL on the day of my visit. Nevertheless I enjoyed lounging around the auditorium and enjoying a hot cup of coffee while watching the rain put a damp on my daytour.
Over to you
For a true Filipino experience, why not spend a day or 2 to the serene Villa Escudero Plantations and Resort. If you’re a true blooded Filipino, why not bring your foreigner friends to visit so they can immerse into the true Filipino culture and native dishes. Truly this will be a memory that they can bring back home and share the stories with their family and friends. Head on and drive early morning to south of Manila and after 2 and half hours, you’re there!
Liked this tour of Villa Escudero review? Share it among your friends using the sharing buttons below!