It was early afternoon, just after we had lunch when we headed to Brgy. San Miguel in Zambales. After a few turns inside a quiet barangay, we entered a colorful gate and was ushered into a garden with a huge tree in its center. A sign can be seen that says, ‘Casa San Miguel Foundation’. My heart nearly stopped because I had always planned to visit this place but never found the time to do so. But there I was, and it was nothing like I imagined it to be. It was better.
Casa San Miguel was a family retreat house built in 1921 inside a 15-hectare mango farm. Acclaimed concert violinist Alfonso ‘Coke’ Bolipata established the foundation in 1993 to nurture local talents and also integrate culture and community development in the area.
After registration and paying the entrance fee (P100), we were led into an entrance and reception area that looked like a museum where old photos and paintings are displayed. After that, we headed to another door that led to a café.
The smell of brewed coffee and pastry dominated the cozy café. There were kids running around having a fill of their glasses with iced tea. A piano sat against one wall and there were art pieces everywhere.
A staff from the foundation then led us into the second floor and was given a tour of the rest the house. They have a theatre where musical performances are held every weekend. On the higher ground, there were sleeping quarters available for the students who stay longer to study music.
After that, we headed into a quiet backyard down to a corner where an old Volkswagen van is stored and has been converted into a mini library. You are allowed to stay and read a book to your heart’s content in this area. According to the staff, this is also the most ‘Instagram’ worthy spot in Casa San Miguel. After the tour, we were led back to the café for some refreshments and to rest before we head to our next destination.
It was probably not obvious to the friends I was with that day but deep inside, I was ecstatic. I LOVE THIS PLACE! Maybe because I grew up in a place so similar to it or maybe because it ignites my love for art and music, and here, I can have both.
I love the eerie quietness in the entire area, that the only sound you hear are the sound of kids practicing a piece on their violins. And although it was scourging hot outside, I love that it remains cool and breezy inside because of the tall tress surrounding the house. I love the combination of wood, metal, and glass that makes up the entire house. I love the little corners full of art pieces, the fact that there’s so many but you’ll never get tired of looking at them.
I love the huge, bright space saturated with ambient light coming from the afternoon sun. I love that you can just sit quietly on a patio, take in and enjoy a quiet moment by yourself. Unbounded by whatever chaos is happening in the fast-paced world we live in, it’s comforting to know that a haven like this still exists.
I will never look back at Zambales the same way again after this visit. More than its pristine beaches and inviting coves, make sure to visit this awe-inspiring place called Casa San Miguel. It’s a must especially for art and music lovers.
HOW TO GET THERE:
From Manila, ride a bus bound to Iba, Zambales and asked to be dropped off at San Antonio Public Market. From there, you can ride a tricycle going to Casa San Miguel.
Location: Evangelista Street, Barangay San Miguel, San Antonio, Zambales
Contact numbers: 0917 838 2752
Email Address/Website: http://casa-san-miguel.org
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/casa.sanmiguel.zambales/
Entrance Fee: Php 100.00 inclusive of iced tea or brewed coffee. They also serve pasta, cakes, and pastries. Casa San Miguel also accepts overnight accommodation.