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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Villa Escudero

Villa Escudero, Laguna

A day tour fit for foreigners. The Villa Escudero Day Tour costs more than a grand per person, which includes a buffet lunch in a man-made cascading waterfall. The receiving area is large, very native, and inviting. Waiters will immediately offer welcome drinks of cold juices (package included) per person. Guests can use the toilet or sit around the many chairs, while others sort the group payments at the counter.
Day tour package price: Php 1250/pax

Activity 1: Carabao ride

A couple of carabao jeeps are parked just off the receiving area. After securing your payment and getting your activity stubs, guests will be ushered to the waiting area. The poor carabaos are (thankfully) large and the driver often swats them with his long rope. Although it doesn't seem like animal torture to most, it still looks sad watching the carabao nod its head with every slashing swat. Some in-house singers will ride with guests and sing native songs. This will be Rural Village Tour as the carabao jeep passes by rice paddies and endless trees and provincial-looking roads. It will stop at the Labasin Waterfalls entry.
Activity 2: Buffet lunch @ waterfalls

From the stop, guests will have to take the tall stairs to get down the Labasin Waterfall level. There is also an alternative zigzag path which is wider and less steep, but longer. The bottom of the stairs lead to some slippery stones connected to the waterfalls. Be sure to watch your step as the water can rise up to the ankles. Sometimes the current will be a little strong in some places. Long tables are sturdy and placed in rows, with steel benches for seating. Some uniformed waiters will take your extra orders not included in the buffet spread, and also assist with anything else.

The buffet is a couple of tables long, filled with native Filipino foods. Grilled meat, fish, soup, rice, seafood, chicken are among some of the available dishes. There is an allotted time for Lunch, especially if you come during weekends, so guests can catch the Cultural Show afterwards. And also if you there's no Show on the day of visit, Lunch time is only from 11AM to 2PM, I think. Double check with the resort to be sure.
Activity 3: Cultural Show (available on weekends & holidays only)

After lunch, guests are guided to the pavilion hut where Villa Escudero employees (waiters, cleaners, staff, mechanics, etc) perform some remarkable local folk dances. The presentation is long so grab that chair and pull out your digicam, as most tourists do. After their numbers, people can go to the stage and take their photos with costume-clad performers.
Another hut off the pavilion is a restaurant, overlooking Lake Labasin. Short Order Menu:
Food Ordered: Chicken Sandwich, Hot Tea

After the Cultural Show, head on to the wooden pier just past the swimming pool. The garden-like path leads to many destinations, but one can easily see the rafting area where people line up and wear vests before hitting the raft.
Activity 4: Rafting (30ft too deep for me)

Two persons are allowed per raft, and two rows as well. The raft's a floater, and no one had probably fallen off the lake before (probably). I guess there's no time limit while rafting, as you will definitely use up all your energy rowing and wondering where else to go.
Activity 5: Swimming

Another thing to get busy with is to do some laps in the pool. Strict requirements are implemented like wearing bathing suits and other hygienic rules. The pool is quite huge, with a separate kiddie pool.
Activity 6: Church Museum tour

Around 4PM I think, they still allow the Church Museum Tour. This can be availed early on, depending on guest's choice, and also time permitting. Best to do all inclusive activities to get your money's worth. Usually the staff will suggest the best schedule for you and work around the fixed Lunch and Cultural Show times. Other available activities are bird watching, bicycling, tennis, basketball, karaoke sessions, or billiards. So I guess only overnighters get to do all that.
All in all, the day tour is a good package. It's steep, but perfect if you have foreign friends visiting.

Official Villa Escudero Site

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