This beats many a collector’s dream. I am not sure whether to thank the collector, to envy him, or what.
We accepted a friend’s invitation to spend the weekend in Pilar, Bataan and prepared ourselves for a somewhat dull weekend visiting the local market, Mt. Samat War Memorial Shrine in Pilar, Bataan, and enjoying fresh fruits in season. “Ciudad de Acuzar” was not part of our itinerary. Neither have we even heard of this heritage town where the owner’s collections included many historical turn of the century houses, town hall, school and chapel!
Just 3 hours north from Manila
The drive northwest of Manila via an expressway and paved roads took more than 3 hours. Pilar is a sleepy town in Bataan. Right beside a ricefield with a view of Mt. Samat, our host’s house promised a lot of rest , peace and quiet. History lessons reminded us of the annual celebration of the “Fall of Bataan” in 1942. Every April 9, which was declared a public holiday, we remember our fallen brothers who gallantly defended our land. The Shrine on Mt. Samat was built in loving memory of these brave Filipino and American soldiers who died during World War II. Along with the Fall of Bataan, this province also reminds us of the famous Death March from Bagac and Mariveles, Bataan all the way to Capas, Tarlac. Rich in history, it was ironic that what we remember most from our Bataan weekend would be the “heritage town” put up by a local land developer in Bagac, Bataan.
The “Old Town” Collection
Uprooted from various areas within the country were a small chapel, the entire turn of the century school building, and many ancestral houses to form part of the new “old town” representing Mr. Acuzar’s collections. This development inevitably invited many critics to scream foul, asserting that these historical landmarks are best left and preserved wherever they were. So much furor for the transfer of all these heritage structures to satisfy one man’s dream collection! At the same time, there were also those who hail the transfer of all these ancestral and historical structures to one area with a good promise that the owner/collector will preserve the structures. Though a private collection and property, “Ciudad de Acuzar” is bound to attract a lot of attention, and likely curious visitors.
We saw a lot of activity in this heritage town during our visit, where men worked on cobble-stoned pathways and reassembled doors, windows and posts from some old near-forgotten buildings in some faraway place. The restoration and reassembly of these old buildings in this single area begs a debate on the propriety of such a collection. Will these structures now be better preserved here , or best left where they were? I have no answers to that. I only know that I feel lucky viewing all these “collections” in a single afternoon. Ciudad de Acuzar may either be your heritage town or modern day theme park, depending on your take. As they say, the Philippines “spent 400 years in a convent, and 50 years in Hollywood”. (That’s nearly 400 years under the spaniards, another 50 years of American rule)
By the way, at the time I visited, the place is not open to the public. The site is in this 60 hectare property somewhere in Barrio Pag-asa in Bagac town, 150 km from Manila, or a 2½-hr drive through NLEX and SCTEX. Not sure, but I hear the Museum Foundation runs tours . The property makes for a good day trip. Check out their link here.
P.S. The property was featured recently in a major daily. Here is the link.
More photos can be viewed from my TravelBlog site.