On Part 1, I showed some photos taken from the walking tour, but also took the liberty to include a few photos from the Hotel de Oriente. The sequel covers the other sights of interest within Las Casas, with some relevant information added, including my thoughts about the entire establishment. Nevertheless, my family and I were there on a rainy weekend, and my chronic frustration was the poor and fluctuating lighting that provided me with photos that were far from what I was expecting to obtain.
Photo below shows the bridge where guests enter and leave, with the parking space beyond it.
This is the Casa New Manila, where both the reception area and Cafe Marivent are also located.
Casa Maranao, a pair of huge torogan houses that is still off limits to visitors. The photo was taken from Plaza Vergara. These types were used by Maranao sultans and datus, and I hope Las Casas includes more such structures from the southern islands.
The rear of Las Casas' place of worship, the Sanctuario de San Jose.
Houses in progress:
I reckon this to be the Casa Majayjay, originally referred to as the Ordoveza house. Some furor ensued after it was demolished last year from its location to be transferred here at Las Casas.
Tram tracks still in the process of completion:
One of the houses in progress, up close:
This one is almost completely done and is notable for its opulent wood works. At the time of writing, I have not been able to find out what the name of the house is.
Savor the exquisite details in wood:
The elegant Casa Ladrillo. I may have taken more photos of this than of any other structure within the complex.
Casa Ladrillo (again), the only all-brick structure along the Estero de Binondo. This belongs to Las Casas' category of Archival Houses, or those whose owners, architect, or builder were unknown.
The Estero de Binondo:
Casa Sta. Rita is said to be the largest house in Sta. Rita, Pampanga during its time. The original had roofing made from nipa until it was destroyed in the Second World War and was replaced with G.I. roofing. There is a concealed room inside the house to serve as hiding place from the New People's Army. Eventually, due to its proximity to the river and because of the frequency of floods, the owners sold the house. Here at Las Casas it serves as Las Casas' Tapas bar, the Cafe del Rio. It was not opened yet when I took photos, however. Note the caryatids on the house's upper level. Caryatids are also found in structures along Paseo de Escolta.
Casa San Luis. This house was originally constructed in Pulilan, Bulacan by Francisco Elizalde for his second wife, but eventually dismantled and brought to San Luis, Pampanga. From the dining area is a concealed hatch that leads to an underground staircase, used as a hiding place from the Japanese troops, and later, from the Huks, the Communist rebel group organized and led by Luis Taruc.
The gabled Casa Hagonoy, built in 1936 by Engr. Tomas Santos. In 1943, the Municipal Council was pressuring him to replace the mayor, who was abducted by the Hukbalahap. Santos staunchly refused to work with the Japanese invaders, and on the day of his supposed inauguration, he had a heated argument with the Municipal Council and had a heart attack. On its balcony was where his widowed wife Consuelo kept on waiting for him to return from the grave, fueling wild stories of ghosts among the neighbors. It was moved to Las Casas in 2014.
Estero de Binondo as seen from the bridge near island 2.
These houses are off limits to casual visitors. From left to right: Casa Irosin, Casa Balanga, and Casa Gapan. Casa Irosin was the only house left standing after the Second World War in Irosin, after a Japanese officer ordered the entire neighborhood to be razed to the ground except for this one, whose owner was found wearing a kimono. Casa Balanga was used as headquarters by the kempetai during WWII. Emilio Aguinaldo happened to be one of the guests of this house during the course of its history. Casa Gapan was almost burned down by its owner, Hospicio Garcia, after learning that his eldest child Henoveva, eloped with an American, Raymond Miller. His fit of rage was tempered by his brother-in-law who scolded and told him to just sleep it off.
From Puesta del Sol, the road facing the sea, is this series of large houses referred to as 'Accesorias'. An Accesoria is a building where the ground floor is used in the manufacturing of goods, while the second floor serve as apartments for the workers that were brought from other provinces, and the uppermost levels as living quarters for the owners. It has been said that accesorias began during the economic boon at the height of the tobacco monopoly, but if I remember it correctly, it was conceptualized by Chinese settlers who were moved out from Rajah Soliman's Maynila (the precursor of today's Intramuros) during the early phases of the Spanish conquest due to the Spaniards' fear of a Chinese uprising from the colonizers, who were direly out-numbered. When the Chinese were moved to the Parian- I believe it encompassed at least three locations, but not at once- they found the new settlements insufficient in land area and so had to find another way to create space for business and habitation. The solution was to go vertical, thus the accesorias. There are seven accesorias in this stretch: the Don Hilario Sunico; the Tribunal de Naturales; the Doña Luisa Alvarez (this occupies Accesorias 2 and 6); the Don Severino Alberto; the Doña Sotera Borromeo; and the Don Francisco Osorio.
Casa Jaen I, the residence of Hilarion Santiago Esquivel. Another mayor, Jose Carlos, resided here. An assassination was attempted to him in this house, and the bullet holes were left unpatched. Jose Carlos survived by jumping from one room to another and waving a white flag in an act of surrender.
Casa Luna, as seen from the lower ground of Casa Jaen I:
A pool fronting La Parilla:
La Bella Teodora is an Italian restaurant located within Casa Biñan (also known as Casa Alberto).
I found the restaurant rather charming, with all the period knick-knacks displayed here and there. A live band was playing classical music almost non-stop, enhancing the ambiance.
After dinner we strolled back to our hotel room. It was pleasant and breezy, and it would not be so difficult for anyone to drift off into nostalgia without even trying. Modernity is tolerated at Las Casas, yet restrained. Hotel de Oriente shimmers at night:
The following day, I finally got to see some sun and went out to shoot more photos with more enthusiasm. But after a few shots, it rained down. Again. Oh well...
Paseo Escolta is the commercial area of Las Casas. Along its length are establishments like La Panaderia; Tess the Farmer (a shop offering organically grown goods including body nourishment products); La Tiendecitas (a souvenir shop); Musika, Kwerdas, at Gitara; Antiquadas (selling various antique items); and Napiya Spa.
La Panaderia is where one buys bread and other foodstuffs. Behind is Casa Bizantina.
Ionic columns reflected on the pools left by rain:
Casa Mexico. On its right is Plaza Belmonte and on the left is Plaza Atienza, where Casa Bizantina is also located. Casa Jaen II is behind Casa Mexico, though not visible from this vantage point.
Casa San Miguel is on the northeastern most portion of the resort and is adjacent to Casa Bizantina, providing a more subtle contrast to its stately neighbor. The area beyond the stone arch is off limits to visitors, and there is nothing to see there anyway, at least to guests.
Casa San Miguel, taken from near the arch. Beyond it is Casa Mexico, its facade facing Plaza Atienza.