Friday, September 2, 2016


The Villa Escudero Museum in Laguna houses some of the most beautiful and valuable collection of antique santos of inconceivable styles in the Philippines. Built like an old church, the museum is part of the 800 hectare sugar plantation estate founded in 1872 by Don Plácido Escudero and his wife Doña Claudia Marasigan. Son Arsenio shifted to coconut farming in the 1900s and began a burgeoning coconut industry in the area.

 Together with his wife, Dona Rosario Adap, the successful agro-industrialist built their hacienda residence in 1929 on their expansive estate that straddles three towns in in two provinces: San Pablo City (Laguna), Tiaong, and Dolores (Quezon).

 In 1981, their children opened the estate to the public and evolved it into a resort that has become a favorite tourist attraction for both local and domestic tourists. It has since become a showcase of Philippine culture and traditions in a charming rural setting, giving the visitor a unique hacienda life experience—from carabao rides, folksy entertainment to outdoor dining with the waters of Labasin Falls lapping at your feet.

 But Villa Escudero’s crown jewel is undoubtedly its museum that features the eclectic collection of Don Arsenio and Rosario amassed from their hobbies and from their travels here and around the world. The objects include a dizzying array of excavated and trade porcelain, tribal, domestic, wartime, and religious antiques and memorabilia.

 In 1987, the collections found a permanent home in the church of the hacienda that was constructed in the old Spanish colonial style. Antique colonial santos and the finest examples of ecclesiastical art are the centerpieces of the Villa Escudero Museum.

There are majestic carrozas of all shapes and sizes bearing processional saints of the Holy Week. These participate in Lenten processions held in San Pablo City annually. There are santos in wood and in ivory, some exhibited behind glass, and some, in reassembled antique church retablos salvaged from old churches.

 Don Conrado Escudero, an heir, has added more antique santos in wood and ivory and other sacred art pieces to the collection through the years. Santos can also be found in the Escudero private chapel where the departe members of Escudero families are interred, as well as inside the magnificent Escudero residence itself.

 A selection of the Villa Escudero santos are on this spread. Access to the Villa Escudero Museum is included with the entrance fee to this distinctive hacienda resort, the first of its kind in the Philippines.

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