Asia, Life in the Philippines, Philippines

My Hometown Series: A Day at A Coconut Plantation & Resort

villa escudero

My previous posts have been largely about our trips the last 6 months which were mostly international ones. Only because they were the easiest to remember. I thought it would be a great idea if I share a little bit about my town as well as life here in Manila and generally, in the Philippines.

I came from the coconut capital of the Philippines, a town called Quezon. In 2009, the Philippines was the number one coconut producer in the world according to Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of United Nations. As of 2012 records, the country contributed 26.4% of the world’s coconut supply.

Unfortunately, it slid down to second, trailing behind Indonesia (accounted for 30%) due to agricultural, political, and economic reasons. Such a delicate topic to discuss especially for a country which is still very much feudalistic where politicians and government officials are not real public servants but mere feudal lords.

Now back to happy thoughts, coconuts are not just important for the country but also for our family. For one, Jeff is obsessed with coconut juice, drinking a bottle everyday which he considers a more fun alternative to water. We also use a lot of coconut products at home from our kitchen to our bathroom. Besides, my grandfather was a coconut plantation owner and supported his family through it. Indeed, it is just to call it the tree of life.

Villa Escudero Coconut Plantation & Resort

We’ll start the tour at Villa Escudero, a 135 year old coconut plantation founded by Don Placido Escudero and his wife Dona Claudia Marasigan in San Pablo, Quezon. For those who are not familiar with the Philippine history, our country was colonized by the Spaniards for 377 years (1521-1898). Those who managed to amass a lot of wealth used titles like “Don” and “Donya”. “Donya Christina” sounds good to me :)

Initially, Villa Escudero was a sugar cane plantation but their son converted it into a coconut plantation in the early 1990s which I personally think is a much better idea. Who needs more sugar? The Pinoys are getting so fat already.

Here we were soaking our feet on cool water as our photo was taken.

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It was also a delight to have our meal under the man-made waterfalls. Some preferred to stay closer to the falls but I think that’s a bit of a hassle when you’re eating. Besides, imagine if the water resuscitated the life back out of your meal. :)

You can still see the empty coconut shells on the table. Can you guess how many Jeff had? :)

A Church Replica Turned Museum

While writing this post, I found out that this so called museum was not originally a church but a replica of a church in Intramuros which no longer exists. On second thought, it makes sense to house these collection which are mostly religious in nature in a church like infrastructure keeping things thematic. Right?

What I found slightly ridiculous was how they made you deposit your bags before letting you in when the types of Louvre doesn’t even make you do that. I didn’t bother taking photos inside nor can I find the ones taken outside.

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nice floral arrangement. no relation to the museum :) but also taken within Villa Escudero

Rowing is more fun in the Philippines:)

The place was amazingly beautiful and relaxing. It makes you feel so much closer to nature as coconut trees and nipa houses surround you.

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row, row your bamboo raft

husband and wife vs father and daughter

brothers claiming false victory

Traditional Dances

My region also has its own pre-hispanic traditional dances. One that comes on top of mind is Tinikling which is actually derived from tikling, a type of local bird. Two people beat, tap, and slide bamboo poles on the ground and against each other in coordination with one or more dancers who step over and in between the poles in a dance.

Another which is very apt given our coconut topic is the Maglalatik. A men’s dance depicting war over coconut meat. The dance is divided into 4 parts: 2 of which are for the battle and 2 for reconciliation. The dancers wear coconut shells and they tap them in rhythm with the music.

Unfortunately, I can’t find the photos and videos I took of these. I will upload them as soon as I do. These dances performed by the resort employees were recreated by no less than the late Center for Cultural Arts (CCP) National Artist for Dance Ramon Obusan.

For now, check out the photos of the other folk dances below from the same performers.

You’ll notice the very colorful costumes of the dancers from their dresses to their accessories such as the fans and umbrellas. The men also wear multi-colored conical hats. This is typical of native wear in the Visayas and Mindanao unlike in Luzon where colors are tamer. In my region, traditional wear was a white pineapple fibre top paired with a red or yellow skirt.

In luzon, guitars and rondallas are popular. In the lower regions though they use instruments like the kumintang and gongs.

Getting There, Other Activities, & Rates

I’d definitely recommend that you visit this part of my province. You can opt for a day trip or to stay overnight. Getting there from Metro Manila is very easy.

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photo credit: Villa Escudero website

“Take the South superhighway and exit at 50A (Lucena, Legaspi, Batangas exit). Turn left at the Sto. Tomas junction. Head straight down, by-passing the town of Alaminos and San Pablo City proper. Slow down upon seeing Quezon arch and turn left immediately after.”

Apart from the activities we did, you can also do the following:

  • Rural village tour
  • Bird Watching
  • Sports (bicycling, tennis, basketball, table tennis, and billiards)

Their rates are quite affordable especially if you go on a weekday. Too bad, we didn’t get any group discount :( Oh well, the money was definitely worth it.

Day Tour Packages

Mondays to Thursday
Adults : P1,250
Half rate : P625

Fridays to Sundays & Holidays
Adults : P1,400
Half rate : P700

This already includes buffet lunch (but not drinks) and use of sports facilities. Luckily, your vegetarian friends didn’t famish as the buffet offered native vegetables, seafood, and meat. The traditional performance show is performed after lunch and is free.

Check out their website to find out more.

That’s it for now. I hope you had fun learning a bit about my hometown and I hope you get to visit sometime :)