By DYLAN AFUANG
A glimpse of 19th century Philippines can be found at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar heritage resort in Bagac, Bataan.
The resort is composed of fully restored and replicas of historical Spanish-Filipino houses and buildings from different parts of the country, which were rebuilt by Jose Acuzar, owner of New San Jose Builders. One of these buildings is a replica of the Hotel de Oriente in Binondo, Manila, considered as the country’s first premiere hotel featuring architecture of the Spanish era. The hotel was built in 1889 and destroyed during World War II.
Rebuilt “plank by plank” and “brick by brick,” the houses and buildings now serve as the resort’s villas and hotel buildings spread around the 400-hectare property, but equipped with modern accouterments such as air-conditioning and WiFi.
The villas are named after the places they were sourced from, such as the Casa Tondo, Binondo, Lemery, and San Miguel. Getting around Las Casas can be done by the jeepneys that ferry guests along cobblestone streets and bridges, which add to the old-world Manila feel of the place.
It is “Manila” albeit with the Uma-gol River cutting through the property, before flowing to the West Philippine Sea—and with a beach, too, where one can view a beautiful sunset.
That river served as the stagefor Polish jazz pianist and composer Artur Dutkiewicz. Aboard a wooden raft in the middle of the serene waters of Umagol River, and the classic architecture of the villas serving as backdrop, Dutkiewicz provided an evening of classic jazz in a solo piano concert titled “Impro Mazurka,” which translates to “improvisation on a lively Polish dance in triple meter.”
His tunes are a seamless combi-nation of classical music, Polish folk music, and trance jazz. These he plays impromptu like he has done many times in the past, he fondly says. Tagged as the “Ambassador of Polish Jazz” by the Jazz Forum Magazine in 2012, Dutkiewicz has performed in more than 60 countries around the world such as the USA, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia.
He has appeared in renowned jazz and music festivals around the world, including the Northsea Jazz Festival in the Hague, International Jazz Festival in Melbourne, Jamboree in Warsaw, MIDEM in Cannes, Music Oggi in Milan, Festival D`Europe Centrale in Paris, and Sziget in Budapest.
It was Dutkiewicz’s first time to perform in the country, and his first time to visit as well. The concert was also made in partnership with the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Manila.