Just less than 2 hours away (by car, on a Sunday) from Manila, just inside Quezon province, is a place called Villa Escudero. Previously a coconut plantation, it is now a bit of a tourist attraction.
For PHP1400 (about £20) you get to see the museum, the grounds, ride on a carabao cart, have lunch, swim in the pool and watch a cultural show (at weekends).
Was it worth it?
Yes. It’s always worth getting out of the city and being able to breathe some fresh air. It was also a fun day, spent with friends. But actually, it’s a pretty decent place to visit too.
The museum is housed in an old pink church (see picture). It contains a broad assortment of artefacts – christian processional carriages, furniture, souvenirs from the Escudero family’s travels, ceramics, war memorabilia, stuffed animals, dried insects and even a shrunken head from the Amazon. A weird and wonderful collection. My only criticism would be that there wasn’t really much information about the artefacts, so you were left guessing about a lot of them.
From there we rode the carabao (local water buffalo) cart to the ‘resort’. At the resort there are hotel rooms, a swimming pool, a river where you can bamboo raft and an open air restaurant. Just along from the open air restaurant is the hydro electric plant. And this is where you have lunch. With your feet in the water, which is pounding down the hydro from the river. Certainly a unique experience. Lunch was a buffet of Filipino food and was really delicious. Plenty of dishes to choose from, including salad and dessert. No complaints. Other than our prune-like toes after lunch.
Following lunch was the cultural show. I didn’t have high hopes, but actually it was excellent. It was a series of dances, with music and song highlighting Filipino history and culture. Really well performed and choreographed.
And then it was time to head back to Manila. Other than along the driveway on the way to and from the plantation house, we didn’t see many coconuts. It really is just a tourist attraction now. But definitely one worth seeing if you find yourself with a spare day whilst in Manila.
We hired a car and a driver from Viajero car rental (about PHP2500). It was definitely easier getting there via car than it would have been via public transport.