The Filipino Houses of Acuzar – a “Must See!”

Maranaw Houses – simple, elegant and extinct.

Nothing is over until it’s over- no matter how old you can be.

I found this out over the weekend in a place I thought I may never have the chance to see, feel and experience in my lifetime – the Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar (The Filipino Houses of Acuzar), a heritage resort in Bagac, Bataan, Philippines,  150 kms west of Metro Manila.

Through Google, I had a fairly good idea what to expect. But it was too far below from what I saw when we got there.

The Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar is not just like any resort. It is a resort with a difference – it takes you back to between mid-Spanish colonial times and early American occupation.

In a touch of insanely creative genius (and lots of cash), the owner, Mr. José “Gerry” Acuzar, an architect, built replicas or bought Filipinos houses of the era, dismantled them “in situ,”  and rebuilt them, piece by piece, into his 40-ha lot in the province.

The result is like a storybook that is seen and felt, not read.

Mr. Acuzar’s eye for perfection left nothing to chance – from the cobbled paths along each house, to the stone bridges that span the resort’s waterways, and the attire the staff wears – all are reminiscent of that important period of the country’s history.

And it has paid off. The Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar is now one of the Philippines’ most visited travel destinations and a favorite wedding venue.


Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar:

The food is great, but the interior is astounding (this is where we had lunch).


A tiny glimpse of the past (taken along the beach front) – how it must have looked in the mid 1800s, sans the passenger jeep.


Fantastic view from elegantly made stone bridges – taken from the back entrance of our hotel


Old but stately – El 82 – the hotel we stayed in. It belonged to the famous Ongpins of Manila.


Lola Basyang and children eager to hear her stories:

“Lola Basyang” is the pen name of Severino Reyes (February 11, 1861 – September 15, 1942), a Filipino writer and playwright and famous for his anthology of short stories that regaled children at the time.


Bridge of monsters:

Lola Basyang’s favorite evil characters, beautifully sculpted, attached beneath a breath-taking stone bridge (l to rkapre (ogre), mananggal (vampire), and the tikbalang (centaur)).


Hotel del Oriente – regal and colorful, then and now

Hotel del Oriente was a first class hotel in Manila and the entire archipelago built by Don Manuel Perez Marqueti in 1889.

If you missed it then, don’t miss it now.


The one and only – its plate states that it was the only red brick house during the period.

Then and now, it is still a sight to behold.


Want a ride?

Tourists having a field day in a horse-drawn colorful carriage. At the back is Casa Hagonoy.


The other face of Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar:

As unique as this resort is, it is also unique in its facility to provide beach-lovers an unparalleled space to romp, play games, or simply bond – barefoot – on the sand.

Its beachfront is as broad and deep and clean (probably cleaner) than that of Atlantic City’s.


The beach – as long and wide as your legs can take.


Or bond with friends in the midst of sea, sky sand – the elements of a happy and contented life,


Or enjoy the spectacle of carabao racing.


And when the sun starts it journey to the far side and make today a yesterday, it is the best place for contemplation and gratitude for having lived a day that will soon become a memory.

As a writer, I pride myself with having a deep vocabulary. Yet, Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, left me speechless. I can use all the superlatives in the English language, but deep in my gut is the nagging feeling that I have not described it well enough.

Note: All photos were taken from my new Huawei Nova 2i – courtesy of my daughter. LOL!




















How to Choose a Travel Destination if You are on a Budget

Health Secrets


Bags are packed and ready to go!

Travel is good both for mind and body. And if planned well, it can be very memorable, especially for seniors who are in their nostalgic stage in life.

It is fun, exciting, and educational. You get to see new places, meet and talk to different peoples, experience other cultures, traditions, and history. You get to taste different foods and learn different languages.

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Have You Gone to Exotic Bantayan Island

Health Secrets

Bantayan Island

Exotic Bantayan Island

Bantayan Island is one of the Philippines’ more than 7,200 islands. It is a dot of an island (110.7 square kilometers in size) northwest of the northern tip of Cebu.

Though small in size, it looms large when it comes to tourism. Its tropical weather, remarkable white sandy beaches, clean and crystal clear blue waters have captivated visitors, foreign and local, needing peace and quiet for a change.


Young Honeymooners

I’ve heard so much about it that it also piqued my curiosity.

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Travel: A Remarkable Body/Mind Therapy for Seniors

Health Secrets

I hope the flight is on time

Do you sometimes feel like living in a cage? Not the sturdy, steel-bar kind but just as confining. It is your self-limiting thoughts that lock you in a lonely, uneventful and often miserable existence.

Your thoughts detain you in your comfort zone; fearful of the uncertainties that may come should you dare venture out. Thus you grudgingly accept your lack of purpose, of staring at the same old, scruffy walls of your home, eat microwavable meals, watch old and boring sitcoms, and talk to people as old as you and as locked in their own cages.

You find life to be such a drag.

Being a live-alone widower, I sometimes feel the same way – like a hamster going round and round its wheel. It is maddening. So each time I like a hamster, I get up, get out and just go before I implode.

You should do the same –when you feel the walls closing in on you, just go, anywhere, and loosen yourself up a bit.

A walk around the neighborhood is often good enough. If you want to explore, have an adventure, go for a long drive, or take a train or a plane trip to a far, far away place. Believe me, it is remarkably therapeutic to both body and mind.


How is travel good for the body?

It is a good exercise, especially for seniors, i.e., dragging your heavy baggage around, running after a taxi, or lining up in front of a check-in counter.

Exploring the streets of unfamiliar cities, or walking around museums, sightseeing or leafing through bookstores is exercise you couldn’t at home.

US News reported that a typical travel can make you walk up to 10 miles a day.


Why is it good for the mind?

Traveling exercise the mind as well.

Navigating new cities, exploring museums, chatting with new people, practicing new languages, and seeing new sights are all stimulating to the brain; they flex your mental muscles and keep your brain active.

Dr. Margaret J. King, director of the Center for Cultural Studies & Analysis says, “With a short list of activities each day, freed up from the complexities of ongoing projects and relationships, the mind can reset, as does the body, with stress relief the main outcome.”

Learning new things is good for the mind, so is giving it a rest.

Other benefits you get from traveling are:


1.  A change in scenery:
Travelling allows you to see new and different scenes.

You can walk through the clouds in mountain tops, or feel salty spree on your face while sitting on a quiet and lovely beach somewhere.

Though less frequent, but a scene in scenery is just as necessary for your body and mind as changing your linens, your underwear, or clothes.


2.  It is liberating:
Travel makes you forget, even for a while, your daily concerns and opens up a world of endless possibilities. It allows you to do whatever you want to do, and go wherever you want to go. That is freedom.

You can try out new things, explore places, or live outside of the norms you live by back home.

It can make you forget of your age and be as gleeful as a child again.


3.  Connecting with others:
Traveling gives you an excellent opportunity to connect with other people, i.e., the guy beside you in a bus, train, or plane, for example.

They are not just people who happen to be near you, but valuable sources of information, and possibly becoming good friends.

They can give you invaluable safety tips, interesting points to see, places to avoid, nearest police station or hospital.

If done amiably, a few minutes of friendly conversation can allow you to see them as they are, like how they live where they work, their marital status, or number of children, if they have any, etc.

While waiting for my daughter and her hubby who were window-shopping, I talked with the mall’s security guard. From him I learned so much about the city, which I could never have through walking around the shopping center.


4.  Allows you to find yourself:
In the course of a day, you are so engrossed with money, relationship, and health issues to know that there is so much in life other than fighting bushfires.

To see the horizon, you need to view it from a distance.

Traveling gives you that distance; it is seeing things from outside your cage. It allows you to see yourself from another perspective, i.e., your life’s purpose, your values, your needs, what makes you happy or sad, what interests you most in life, and your goals and ambitions..

Away from the maddening crowd, travel allows you to find yourself.

This year I have logged a lot of travel mileage. Most of them were with my daughter and her hubby who kindly took me along. The rest were solos.

Regardless of the mode, I always come home refreshed, rejuvenated and with lots of memories of the trip and a ton of pictures for posterity.

I plan to make three solos before the year is over and next year, when I turn 70, I plan to take a very long motorcycle ride.

That is how addicting travel is. Once it gets into your system, and make you want to do it as long as you can.

Please help other seniors by sharing this. Better still, subscribe to my newsletter to get a weekly update of the exciting and bittersweet life of a senior.


My Wonderful Encounter with a Charming Kahuna

Kahuna Lobby

Kahuna is a Hawaiian word defined in Pukui & Elbert (1986) as “a priest, sorcerer, magician, wizard, minister, expert in any profession.”

More subtly, it is “an important person, the person in charge,” or “a very large wave.”

My Kahuna has, figuratively, something of both, i.e., it is magical, it is among the top of its kind, and its guest-friendliness is as big as a surfer’s wave.

What I am talking about is the Kahuna Beach Resort and Spa, in San Juan, La Union, Philippines.

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I Spent a Remarkable Weekend 1,500 Meters Up

Sagada before Sunrise

Last weekend I was 1,500 meters above sea level, encircled by imposing mountain crests littered with towering age-old pine trees, eerily shrouded with thick fog where the temperature was crispy-cold 17 degrees centigrade.

The picture-perfect scenery made me feel insignificant, yet overjoyed for being a spectator to one of life’s dramas without violence, intrigue, blood and gore, but peace and tranquility of Nature at her cleanest, purest, and simplest best.

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An Evening of Great Music and Good Company

An night of music and passion with the multi-awarded Philippine MeisterSingers

A night of music and passion with the multi-awarded Philippine MeisterSingers

They say big surprises come in small packages.

I got a big one last Friday when my daughter asked me if I was interested to go with them to a choral concert, Saturday evening. To make sure I got it right she emphasized, “Choral, not a pop concert.”

In a sense it was amusing my daughter still thinks that, at my age, I would go for pop, not a choral group.

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