10 interesting finds at the Escudero Private Museum in Quezon

The museum's must-see exhibits include an original pure silver altar from Binondo church, a collection of national costumes worn by Philippine Presidents and First Ladies, and a P20-million Ifugao betel nut bag

By Monica De Leon

The Escudero Private Museum
The Escudero Private Museum located at the 900-hectare Villa Escudero Resort and Plantations in Tiaong, Quezon, is home to a valuable collection of Philippine historical memorabilia, from antique Ifugao tribal accessories to a display of the national costumes worn by past Philippine Presidents and First Ladies to Sung dynasty artifacts. Started by the late Don Arsenio Escudero and his wife Dona Rosario and continued on by their son, Villa Escudero Resort president Conrado “Ado” Escudero, the Escudero Private Museum is one not to be missed. 

10 of the museum exhibits not to be missed

#1 Pure silver carriages 

Pure silver carriages carrying life-size religious images take center stage at the annual Good Friday procession at Villa Escudero. It takes months for the museum staff to clean and polish the carriage for the grand parade.   's>

#2 Statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary with ivory face and hardwood body

This image of the Blessed Virgin Mary with an ivory face and hardwood body was bought by Dona Rosario Escudero from a local fisherman in Marinduque who found it floating in the sea. It is believed to be part of a sunken Spanish galleon.

#3 Original altar of Quiapo church made of pure silver 

By Cocoy Ventura
Some people buy lamps or chandeliers at auction houses and antique shops. The Escuderos buy entire Roman Catholic altars. In fact there are two at the museum. One is a silver altar from the old Quiapo church (Binondo Church), and the other is an altar made of kamagong wood from an old church in Agno, Pangasinan. When Binondo church underwent major renovations, the original silver altar was torn down and broken into various pieces and sold off. The Excuderos, angered by the move to dismantle the altar, bought all of the original altar’s silver pieces and reassembled it. 

#4 A collection of priest's chairs

A collection of clergyman chairs, including a three-seater used for high mass (Misa de Tres).

#5 Religious artwork created using handwritten scriptures

By Cocoy Ventura
This artwork of Jesus Christ surrounded by angels was created using handwritten scriptures from the New Testament. The letters are so small you'd need a magnifying glass. There are only two of this type of artwork, according to the Escuderos. This rare picture was given to the Escudero couple by Mr. and Mrs. George Clark from Westmont, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, benefactors of a postwar American-Korean orphanage for war babies. 

#6 Image of the Blessed Virgin with the child Jesus, with armour in pure molten silver 

#7 Life-size diorama of Filipino cultural tribes and minorities

The male Ifugao figurine in the diorama is wearing a pearl encrusted betel nut bag estimated to be worth P20 million. Only rich men or women from the Philippine mountain tribes would have worn such a bag because pearls were hard to come during the pre-colonial era in the Philippines, more than 2,000 years ago. 

#8 Two Chu Chao jars and the rest of the Sung Dynasty artifacts

By Cocoy Ventura

Two Chu Chao jars from the Sung Dynasty are the most expensive articles on display in the museum. The Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC and the Philippine National Museum confirmed the jars' authenticity. They form part of the Escuderos' extensive Sung Dynasty collection. The Escuderos believe that the museum's Sung Dynasty collection, dug up in the Philippines, particularly in the Laguna de Bay area, is more valuable than those in china since China destroyed most of its Sung Dynasty relics during the  cultural revolution. 

#9 Old gold Philippine currency

A collection of Philippine gold dust and gold rings, used as currency by early Filipinos.

#10 Filipiniana outfits worn by Philippine Presidents, First Ladies, and First Gentlemen

A vast and interesting collection of Philippine national costumes worn by Philippine Presidents, First Ladies and First Gentlemen. 

Visit Villa Escudero Resort and Plantations, KM 91, Tiaong, Quezon, +632 523 0392. Museum tours cost
P1,250 per person on Mondays to Thursdays. This price includes buffet lunch by the waterfall, carabao cart rides and bamboo rafting. Weekend rate is P1,400 for the same package and includes a cultural show. Children from three to six years old get a 50 per cent discount.

How to get there
Hop on a Lucena-bound DLTB or Jac Liner bus from Buendia corner Taft Avenue terminal in Makati for a two-hour travel to Tiaong, Quezon. Get off at Villa Escudero and take a tricycle to the resort plantation.

For more local culture and art, read A tour of Laguna and Rizal’s artisan workshops.

Published July 2016