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Simple Living at the Hacienda

Simple living at the Hacienda
By Lester Gopela Hallig
Philippine Star
Friday, July 18, 2008

Don’t we all aspire for simpler living. At least for us who live, breathe, and eat urban living, finding a place — any place — with verdant greens and rolling hills is heaven on earth. Throw in good old Filipino culture and creature comforts into the mix and we are ready to pack our bags and relocate.

Of course, wishful thinking can only go this far. So when we accepted an invitation to visit Hacienda Escudero in Tiaong, Quezon, we were able to find out that “simpler living” is closer to what some call “hacienda living.” Well, at least that is the concept behind Hacienda Escudero, a partnership between Landco Pacific Corp. and the Escudero family of Quezon province.
Hacienda Escudero takes after its more popular namesake, Villa Escudero. While Villa Escudero has established itself as a tourist destination that showcases Philippine history and culture, Hacienda Escudero is aiming to become a Filipino-inspired residential-commercial development.

The clan’s Ado Escudero shares, “We are thankful that Landco accepted our family’s invitation of turning this land into a totally Filipino development. It is sad that most of the developments here are anything but Filipino. You will hear everything is European, except Filipino. At the Hacienda, we will return to our roots and celebrate our traditions.”

He promises that this will begin with the houses. Mind you, only houses designed according to the aesthetics of Commonwealth-era houses will rise within Hacienda Escudero.

“We will bring back those houses that defined the era, from 1940 down to the 1900s. All the old houses that are best suited for our climate will be seen here. There will be azoteas, wide open layouts, and raised floors,” he adds.

“The Commonwealth era was the grandest period of the Philippines,” chimes in Landco senior vice president for leisure and resort communities Pat Villano. “We want Hacienda Escudero to remind us of our glorious past. Hopefully, this will encourage more tourism in this area. We are the only development pursuing a totally Filipino identity.”

Even the buildings within the development will evoke the same theme, says Landco head for non-seaside development Joby Xerez Burgos. “While we are still a work in progress, we are making sure that this place will be homey and warm, typically Filipino. At the same time, we are going to make Hacienda Escudero the last word in relaxation and recreation.”

Included in the lineup are an 18-hole golf course designed by golfing hero Frankie Miñoza, basketball and tennis courts, a free-form pool, and a clubhouse. Hacienda Escudero will also have its very own spa village.

“We are building our very own wakeboard park in the premises for those into extreme sports. These offerings are meant to encourage more activity within the community,” says Villano.

He reveals that the community will also feature hotels, restaurants, shops, a convention hall, parks, and campus, retirement, and medical facilities.

A unique feature in the Hacienda is the Agritainment Center, which will offer fresh produce as well as an aviary, butterfly farm, botanical garden, and demo farms. Fishing areas will also be a common attraction around the Hacienda, as the area is dotted by lakes.

Before anybody thinks that these amenities will destroy the natural beauty of the surroundings, Hacienda Escudero ensures that this will remain intact. “The Escudero estate has always been protective of its natural habitats,” declares Don Escudero. “For decades, the hacienda has built an ecosystem related to its famed coconut plantation, which is a much more dynamic and friendlier environment.”

“The development is not a slash-and-burn thing,” Villano says. “The plantation is the setting and brings character. The whole idea is to preserve them to create a backdrop. Any type of habitation by humans as we all know will create some disruption. Residential land use for recreation and tourism is not necessarily a destructive use. As long as we can maintain a good number of trees and low traffic of buses, as long as the vegetation is preserved, the animals will be there because it is their habitat. That is what Hacienda Escudero is aiming for.”

Truth to tell, Don relates that they recently invited the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines to stay at the property overnight and identify the birds living there. Lo and behold, the club recorded 65 species within 24 hours. Escudero family members and resort employees have since added 13 more to the list.

The birds found spreading their wings here include the Purple Heron, Cattle Egret, Greater Painted Snipe, White-Throated Kingfisher, Zebra Dove, Oriental Magpie, Large-Billed Crow, Olive-Backed Sunbird, Barred Rail, Oriental Practicole, Mangrove Blue Flycatcher, Painted Snipe, and Cinnamon Bittern, among others.

“What surprised the club members was that the more highly frequented by people the area is, the more birds there are. The farther they got, the lesser birds they saw. I think it is because the birds feel very safe. In this estate, the rule is to never touch the birds,” Don informs us.
The estate itself is bounded by Mt. Banahaw, Mt. Cristobal, and Mt. Malarayat. It is home to Bulakin and Labasin rivers, as well as to various fruit-bearing trees. With these attractions, residents and tourists of Hacienda Escudero will definitely have a full schedule of down-home, back-to-basics enjoyment waiting for them. Now that’s the life.