Villa Escudero was our adventure this weekend. It was about an hour and a half drive from Manila, not too much farther than the Hidden Valley Springs we had visited earlier. The Villa was once a coconut plantation for a wealthy Spaniard, and then later became a safe-haven for American and Filipino troops during the war. Now they have made it into a tourist attraction.
Again, it was great to get out of the hectic lifestyle of Manila and be among nature and trees. Villa Escudero was quiet. It had rained just before we got there so even the animals were hiding under whatever roofing was available. The first thing we did was get our carabao ride. Hiva was saddened and distracted by the way the lead rope was looped in the nose of the carabao. We had a nice long and slow ride to our first destination—the cultural show. We were a few minutes late, but the slow pace was alright with us, the poor carabao, named “Maganda” was doing just fine. Then the guy behind us started to complain we were late and the driver used a whip to get Maganda to go faster. With every crack Lady Hiva winced and needless to say, we never rode another carabao ride the rest of the day. Even when it was pouring rain!
The cultural dance was well done, the storyline was simple and the dancers were talented. It was fun to watch them do more and more complicated tinikling moves as a group. I was impressed the most by the musicians playing furiously with their hands, but the rest of their bodies were relaxed like there was nothing hard about it. The drummers were using pots of all sizes to create their music and I fought the urge to tell Hiva, “See you CAN make music on anything!” She is always telling me to stop because in my moments of ADD I tend to use whatever utensil I have in my hand, fork, pen, knife, etc, to play a rhythm on the different sounds of the table, cups, wall, plates—you get the idea. It is quite entertaining, you should try it.
We went to go eat, but the workers were all leaving as we entered. The room was EMPTY, like chirp chirp dead silence, ‘you hoo, anybody home’ empty! I guess the girl at the entrance forgot to tell us what time lunch was! But the good workers went back to the kitchen and got us some food. When they emerged they had so much food to offer that there was barely room on the table. We ate on woven plates covered with fresh cut banana leaves.
We went down to the waterfall restaurant below. They usually serve lunch there with the water flowing around your feet. But because of the rain they had moved it up to the building; which was fine with us because we were the only ones there. Hiva bought a fresh coconut to drink and we relaxed for a few minutes hearing the rush of water.
It started to rain again…really hard. We figured it was a good time to go rafting. The bamboo rafts were quite creative actually. About ten of them were tied together making a long flat canoe. Even with the rain, the river was beautiful with the large green peaks off in the distance.
We walked in the rain back to the large neon pink chapel, now a museum, and were so wet when we got there everybody was staring. (That is how much Hiva did not like the carabao ride. She would say, “oh poor thing” as we passed them.”) Along the path there are these statues of people, and one of E.T. for some strange reason, doing daily activities. We could not quite figure out why they were there. Hiva got a kick out of one lady that had a snail stuck to her head!
It was a relaxing day away from the city.