Part of day tour package of Villa Escudero Plantation & Resort included admission to the resort’s AERA Memorial Museum which houses the priceless collections of Arsenio and Rosario (nee Adap) Escudero. Begun on June 29, 1923, it is run by the AERA (acronym of the founders’ names) Memorial Foundation. It is housed in an exact replica of the beautiful San Francisco Church of Intramuros. The original church was destroyed by heavy American artillery bombardment on February 3, 1945 during the liberation of Manila and the site is now occupied by Mapua Institute of Technology.
The pink-colored building took 10 years to build on a massive 7-ft. thick concrete foundation and has a high 200-sq. ft. ceiling with trompe l’ oeil paintings by Benny Cabezada. Attached to the ceiling are ten chandeliers copied from an Arte Espanol original. Its display arrangement was said to have taken 3 years to complete. Ninety percent of the display is family-owned while the rest were donated or acquired by the foundation.
|AERA Memorial Museum|
The museum’s collection of religious art is its main attraction. A wooden bas-relief of the Nuestra Senora de Augustia, donated by my late uncle and National Artist, Arch. Leandro V. Locsin, is located by the massive ornate door made in 1768. By the way, cameras and videocams are not allowed. A kamagongSto. Entierro (glass bier of the Dead Christ, circa 1856) carriage fashioned by noted sculptor, Isabelo Tampingco, was formerly from the Sta. Cruz Church of Manila. It is adorned with 24 batikuling (a local aromatic softwood) cherubs and was donated by Dona Maria Luisa Quiogue (of the funeral parlor chain).
Villa Escudero Plantation & Resort: San Pablo City, Laguna. Manila booking office: 1059 Estrada St., Malate, Manila. Tel: (632) 521-0830, 523-0392 and 523-2944. Website: www.villaescudero.com.