Been here. Done that. Posted photos here and there.
When friends called to ask who arranged our trip, or that they didn’t know you can swim (in the pool) and go bamboo-rafting in Villa Escudero, I began to realize that many go there just for the lunch by the falls and the cultural performance. Some didn’t even bother to do the museum tour where one finds centuries-old carrozas (floats), religious icons, family memorabilias (Escudero family), the Filipino alphabet, currency and doll collections from all over the world, and so many other antique collections of the Escuderos.
In my earlier blog on Villa Escudero, I highly recommended this trip to balikbayans, foreign guests, or simply to families longing to show their young children how life was in earlier times. It’s both a nostalgic and educational trip for the young and adults. The statues to be found there may not look so appealing but they showcase many Filipino traditions and lifestyles. Here’s where you can recount those stories of your younger days to the little ones or those born and grown in foreign lands who only read about them. The statues leave better memories. They complement the stories!
The highways make these trips a breeze. You can leave as late as 8:30am, driving through SLEX and ACTEX till you reach the boundary of Laguna and Quezon. Soon after you pass the boundary marked by a Welcome Arch, turn left towards Villa Escudero. You register and pay P1,400 for a day tour which includes a Museum Tour, lunch by the falls, carabao rides, use of facilities like swimming pool and bamboo rafts. Senior citizens get a hefty discount and pay only P1,000!
Arriving way before lunch, we did the Museum tour then took the carabao ride to bring us to the lunch area by the falls. Lunch was platefuls of grilled fish, chicken and pork belly, caldereta (beef), salad and banana cues! After lunch and while waiting for the 2pm cultural performance, you can take a dip by the pool and/or take one of the narrow bamboo rafts and exercise those arm muscles amidst a grand view of the cottages and trees by the water. Soothing yet physical, the activity renders you longing for a glass of halo halo or young coconut juice to savor while watching the dancers perform on stage.
The cultural show ends at 3pm. Early enough to drive a few more minutes from Villa Escudero to visit Ugu Bigyan’s Pottery Workshop. Getting here was a challenge. The only landmark from the Maharlika Highway driving further past Villa Escudero was the Petron Gas Station and Iglesia ni Kristo on your right. Soon after passing them, take a left and look for Alvarez Village. Ugu’s workshop, gardens cum dining place is on your left. No signs, but easy to spot the red brick one-story house with a sprawling garden as soon as you enter the village.
From Ugu’s place, we drove back towards San Pablo City to check out Sulyap Cafe. On our way there, we found a sign towards Patis Tito, formerly Kusina ni Salud. Really, finding these Viaje del Sol spots is quite a challenge. We had snacks here of suman (glutinous rice) and another forgettable “kakanin” and sat there watching how unkept the place was. Guess they spruce up the place only for big groups. I hope.
By the time we reached Sulyap Cafe after missing several turns and U-turns, we were tired but still full from the merienda. We visited the art gallery inside before an intended supper there, but found the place too gloomy to spend dinner time there. Dark, gloomy, nearly haunted. Maybe the place is suitable for romantic dates. Not for us. So we chose to simply drive back to Manila instead.
The entire trip to Villa Escudero with sidetrips to Ugu Bigyan, Kusina ni Salud and Sulyap Cafe & Gallery lasted from 8am to 8:30pm. Not bad. It’s a good roadtrip….. Just arm yourself with a good dose of patience looking for these spots with hardly any markers. Happy driving!