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    Hello dear readers, Belated Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! What is the importance of Thanksgiving? As a liturgical festival, Thanksgiving corresponds to the English and continental European harvest festival, with churches decorated with cornucopias, pumpkins, corn, wheat sheaves, and other harvest bounty. English and European harvest hymns are sung on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. Since Thanksgiving holiday is [...]

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Page added on September 24, 2011

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Footprints: LAGUNA

By Marietta Pangan-Dutkoski

dutkoski @shaw.ca

Laguna is currently one of the most thriving provinces in the CALABAR (Cavite-Laguna_Batangas) Zone in terms of economy and tourism. This industrious province with more than 2M citizens, generates millions of pesos  in revenue from  coconuts and fruits such as lanzones. Other major sources of income are their  natural and man-made  attractions, making it one of the best provinces in which to live, south of Luzon.  Famous  natural  beauties include Pagsanjan Falls, Los Banos  Hot springs, Mt. Makiling National Park, and the 7 Lakes of  San Pablo City; while Enchanted Kingdom, Caliraya Lake and  Villa Escudero  are just some of the equally  famous man-made attractions

In this issue, Footprints is  featuring Laguna Province. Continuing the trend of describing  the symbolism incorporated into the Philippine Flag, Laguna represents one of the  eight rays of the sun , which stand for the 8 provinces that revolted  against the Spanish misrule. It is  also the province of  our  National Hero- Jose Rizal.  During the  Spanish rule the ill-equipped revolutionaries  from this province fought the well-armed enemy in 1898, when the last Spanish garrison surrendered to the victorious patriots in Santa Cruz.  During the Japanese occupation of the Philippines (1942–1945), Laguna was  one of the  centers of Filipino resistance despite the presence of several  Makapili collaborators.

Feature Travel:

VILLA ESCUDERO Plantations and Resort

I had my first sight of Villa Escudero in 1993. Back then, my friends  and I could only go as far as the gate entrance of this massive 40 hectare coconut  plantation. But this alluring country living stuck in my curiosity and combined with my sisters desires, we finally experienced the Villa Escudero Plantations and Resort, and everything it has to offer this summer 2011.

Villa Escudero is a self-contained working coconut plantation, founded in the 1880s by Don Placido and wife Dona Claudia Escudero.  Their original sugarcane  was converted to a coconut plantation by their son Don Arsenio and wife Dona Rosario Escudero . Their children opened the estate to the public in 1981.

The resort may have come from humble beginnings, but it gained worldwide fame by showcasing rich Philippine cultural heritage, offering sumptuous local cuisine and touching it all off with natural charm. It is now a top destination visited by locals, overseas Filipinos and a wide array of foreign guests. One of the conveniences of this resort/plantation is the short 2-hour drive south from Manila. So, let me take you to the laid back life with less hustle and bustle touring around Villa Escudero.

Upon our arrival, we were welcomed with warm greetings from the staff and a cool tropical drink. Rows of hundreds of regal coconut trees, luxuriant fields and  happy faces of  the village folk sure was a delight to see. No wonder this is a popular spot for wedding venues, conferences, seminars or just plain unwinding and relaxing. A day tour or overnight stay is perfect relief for the   stresses and cares of our busy lives.
Museum.

Our first stop is the AERA Memorial Museum, which houses one of the largest art collections in the country, both  eclectic  diverse. Housed in a replica of a long-gone church in Intramuros with painted trompe-l’oeil ceilings, the core of the collection is its trove of colonial religious art: silver altars, gilded carrozas, and intricately carved life sized ivory saints. There are also  extensive collections of Oriental ceramics, natural history and ethnographic dioramas, costumes, household furniture, weaponry and many other items collected during the numerous Escudero world travels.
Waterfalls Restaurant.

This is the highlight of the trip! Dinners are served on bamboo dining tables set only a few inches from crystalline running water coming from falls, which are  truly a refreshing backdrop adding clear spring water running over our feet. The buffet is an array of local cuisines providing a wonderful gastronomic feast. It gives the feeling of comfort comparable to a warm rainy day.
Philippine Experience  Cultural Show.

We were fortunate to visit during a weekend when the “Philippine Experience Show”was playing.  The country’s rich culture comes to life through local music and dances performed by resort employees and accompanied by the resort’s own musicians and Rondalla ensemble
Rural Village Tour.

We had the most laid back experience touring the rural village riding a sleigh pulled by carabao. A colorful jeepney took us back to the reception area.
Water Sports with Bamboo Rafts & Other Recreational Facilities

Although we were not bold enough to try paddling bamboo rafts, it sure was a delight watching others paddling a native bamboo raft on Lake Labasin. There are also foot paths and areas to enjoy–bicycling, tennis and basketball. Other games to enjoy are billiards or ping-pong, … there is plenty to do and you will never get bored!
Nature and Bird Watching.

On our last leg of the tour we enjoyed bird watching while being serenaded by a chorus of resident orioles, mynahs, kingfishers and doves, just to name a few.

It might have been a short visit, but it was truly a wonderful visit back in the country, living an experience than everyone should definitely plan more than once!









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