5 Cultural Spots near Metro Manila

Contrary to initial belief, the Philippines is a country teeming with culture and heritage often overlooked in favor of our South East Asian neighbors. Thanks to the resurgence of conservation groups and the various programs of the Department of Tourism, culture trips are quickly gaining the attention of travelers. Near Metro Manila alone, one can list down a selection of landmarks and destinations preserving our rich set of culture and traditions. For those looking to bring their balikbayan relatives and friends to a place that best epitomizes the Philippines’ character, check out this partial list of must-see cultural laden places near Metro Manila.

Heritage Houses in Taal Town
Pretty Old Houses in Taal Town, Batangas

Villa Escudero (Quezon)

A favorite among balikbayans because of unique dining ambiance—boodle style—set at the foot of their famous man-made ‘waterfalls’, Villa Escudero—unbeknownst to many—houses a vast collection of cultural and historical trove inside a museum located in the property. The Escudero family’s collection are a source of copious information about our country’s colorful history and local arts. Apart from the Escudero Museum, you can also visit the heritage houses: Escudero Mansion and Casa Consuelo.

Gretchen Filart in Villa Escudero
The Villa Escudero Museum is housed in this replica of a Spanish-era Church
Villa Escudero also regularly present cultural shows showcasing traditional dances from all over the country. I was fortunate to meet Don Ado himself, during our visit there. Read more about our interesting encounter with Don Ado and what we saw inside his personal home.

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar (Bataan)

Located in a scenic seaside in Bagac, Bataan, Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar covers a large property put together like a visual time machine to the past. Composed of ancestral houses rebuilt from original materials collected from various locations in the country, it remains as contentious topic among heritage conservationists (whether removing old houses from their original sites is a good preservation practice?). Controversy aside, one cannot dismiss how Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar beautifully re-imagines the charming vibe of olden Philippine towns through the numerous restored 17th-19th century houses that came to life once again.

Karla Ramos in Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar

Globetrotting travel writer Karla Ramos describes her experience visiting Las Casas: “I love all the pretty historical houses, each, having their own history and purpose. I would actually love to get the chance to stay in one of those. It’s amazing to see the intricate decors and the style that influenced the architecture of our ancestors. Filipinos have always been rich in design and in culture.  It’s good to remind ourselves of that. We have a lot to be proud of.”

Nayong Pilipino (Clark, Pampanga)

Levy Amosin
Some of the cultural performers at Nayong Pilipino
Heritage, arts, history and even replicas of famous landmarks in the country, proliferates inside Nayong Pilipino—thus making it a one-stop destination for anyone who want to learn more about Filipino culture. This five hectare property houses various representation of Philippine arts and culture through mock-ups of a Spanish-era church, traditional houses and even the famed rice terraces of Banaue. An entertaining cultural show featuring folk dancers and singers adorned in colorful traditional costumes are held daily.

Taal Town (Batangas)

Taal Town in Batangas

The rustic Taal town in Batangas takes you back in time when you step inside some of the century-old houses in the area. There’s quite a few Spanish era residences open for visitors such as; the Don Leon Apacible house, Doña Gliceria Marella Villavicencio Residence, the Agoncillo Mansion, Doña Marcela Marino Agoncillo and Casa Punzalan. Nearby, one can also visit the Shrine of the Virgin Caysasay and the Taal Basilica or otherwise known as Basilica de San Martin.

Angono Artist Village (Rizal)

Celine Murillo in Angono
National Artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco’s “Pageant of Commerce”.
Angono’s resident poet and artist Celine Reyes validates the worthiness of her hometown, when it comes to cultural and art immersion trips. “While its neighbors boast hiking trails and scenic views, Angono’s strength lies in its character. Steeped in art and creativity, the town’s thoroughfares double as galleries. There is art basically everywhere you look. Art enthusiasts would surely enjoy a visit to this lakeside town.”