Waterfall Lunch At Villa Escudero

I was in Manila recently attending a travel conference, and we, the participants, were given options to choose an excursion trip outside of the capital city. There was a long list of excursions to choose from but I wanted to explore a place that was close to the city for a day trip – a tour which didn’t require me to leave myย very comfortable hotel in Manila very early in the morning to commute to the tour pick-up point. Therefore, I chose Villa Escudero.

Located about 100kms south-east of Manila, Villa Escudero is a working coconut plantation and hacienda in the city of San Pablo in Laguna Province. It was founded in the 1870s by Don Placido Escudero and was originally a sugarcane plantation but converted into a coconut plantation in the 1900s by the Donโ€™s son Arsenio. Arsenio Escudero who was an agriculture industrialist, commissioned the construction of a hydroelectric plant – Labasin Dam โ€“ to supply water and to generate electricity to his coconut factory and the plantation house. When the Labasin Dam was constructed in 1929, it was the first working hydroelectric plant in the Philippines at that time.

Villa Escudero Plantation was opened to the public in 1981 as a tourist attraction, designed to provide tourists a peek into historical life in the plantation. Village and museum tours are available, food, accommodation and recreational activities are set up for tourists to relax and experience the rustic ambience, away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Upon our arrival at the villa, we were greeted with lush groves of coconut trees. As soon as we got ourselves sorted out with hats and welcome drinks, we walked towards a pink-coloured churchย which is now the museum, belonging to the Escudero family who – over the many decades – had inherited and collected historic, religious relics and cultural artefacts, some dating back to pre-Hispanic times.

villa escudero pink museum mansion

After the museum tour, we were given a short tour of the plantation on board a carabao (water buffalo)-drawn cart, serenaded by a native singing duo at the back of the cart. We rode slowly into the resort area, passing by park-like and yet provincial settings. Just as I was feeling a little dreamy with the lush greenery and fresh air, it was time for us to alight the carabao cart and to head towards the restaurant where we were going to have our lunch.

villa escudero carabao cart

The main attraction of Villa Escudero is the alfresco restaurant. The restaurant is situated below the spillway of the Labasin Dam and diners get to enjoy their buffet lunch with the cascading “waterfalls” in the background. Not only is this a unique experience, diners have to wade into the flowing (and cold!) ankle-deep water to get to the tables and the buffet spread.

villa escudero waterfall lunch restaurant

villa escudero labasin dam waterfall restaurant

The restaurant had prepared a sumptuous feast for us: vegetable salad, pumpkin soup, roast chicken, beef, barbecue pork, grilled fish, banana fritters coated with caramelised sugar for dessert, and fruits. But the main food highlight presented to us on a platter was the lechon – a whole pig skewered on a long spit roasted over charcoal. Lechon is a popular dish for the Filipinos particularly for special occasions, taking centre table in any gathering or celebrations. The lechon dish would feed a whole family for the day and probably for subsequent days with any remains cooked in stews and other dishes.

villa escudero lechon roasted pig waterfall lunch restaurant

After a couple of hours of tucking into delicious food, with much reluctance, we had to tear ourselves away from our waterfall lunch, to explore the rest of the resort. Unfortunately, it was starting to rain, thus we took shelter at the Coconut Pavilion which overlooks the Labasin Lake on which situated on one side is the row of accommodation. As soon as the rain subsided, a few members of our group went bamboo-rafting on the lake.

villa escudero labasin lake bamboo rafts

As the old saying goes, all good things come to an end, thus it was time for us to leave the villa and return to Manila. The following week I had mentioned to a Filipino about this excursion. Although he has never been to the villa, he has heard positive reviews about the resort. But the one thing which he said struck me was that Villa Escudero is a place which you will hardly find foreign tourists. It’s true – Villa Escudero is a domestic tourist attraction for which I found it rather delightful and charming.

*I was a participant of the Travel Bloggers Exchange (TBEX) Asia-Pacific 2016 conference. The excursion to Villa Escudero was organised by Tourism Promotions Board of Philippines. Opinions expressed in this article are my own.


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*Linking with #CityTripping, #FarawayFiles and #TheWeeklyPostcard.

Suitcases and Sandcastles
Two Traveling Texans


  1. Destinations with mostly local (or no) tourists are my favourite type! It looks like a really relaxing and pleasant day-trip. Looking at the pig though has strengthened my current resolve to go as meat-free as possible!

    1. Hi Michelle! Sorry for the late reply as I had been travelling for a month. Just returned yesterday ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m glad that I had an opportunity to visit the villa – I was amazed that they had this brilliant idea to have a restaurant so close to the waterfall since the 1980s! When you go to the Philippines, you must try their lechon – the roasted pig ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I would love to do the waterfall lunch. I would mind wading through the cold water for that. It’s such a unique experience. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

  3. So cool Kat! I love that pink church – so cute. And I would love to try the Lechon – looks amazing. My kids think the idea of having lunch with tables in the water sounds super cool! Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles. Cheers from Copenhagen, Erin

    1. Oh the lechon is heavenly, and it’s THE dish to try in the Philippines! It is super cool to have lunch with tables in the water hahah…awesome!

  4. This sounds brilliant, Kat, and close enough to the city to allow yourself an all-important lie in! I love the idea of lunch beside a waterfall and bamboo rafting sounds excellent fun. Thanks for sharing this on #FarawayFiles. I’d love to visit the Philippines.

    1. Thanks Clare! I also learnt that such activities like this are common in the Philippines – they love nature and outdoor activities ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I like the idea of relaxing and enjoying a meal in front of a waterfall. I feel like we often go through a lot to see one, and then before long we’ve moved on. It’d be nice to stop and sit for a while with refreshments! #FarawayFiles

    1. To be honest, this is one of the rare times that I actually got the chance to relax and eat by the waterfall. You’re right, most of the time, we see waterfall just to take photos and then move on. It’s pretty cool that this experience is having to wade in the water to have our meals ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Me too, have never heard of a waterfall lunch. When I heard there was going to be this pre-conference trip – a waterfall lunch – I quickly signed up for it! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Sounds like such a lovely place – and great to go somewhere that’s a favourite of local tourists too rather than somewhere only visited by foreign visitors. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

    1. Actually this villa is located outside of Manila, a couple of hours drive away in the province. Of course, Manila is an interesting city to visit (the traffic jams can be horrendous though) but it’s great to move out from the city and explore the provincial area. Villa Escudero is perfect for those who wish to get away from the metropolis ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Haha, totally understand what you mean, mindbogglingly awesome! Well, except for one or two food items, I ate everything that was given to us at the buffet, yep, including that yummy roasted pig! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. It’s amazing that the villa has been around since the 1980s; the resort has definitely maintained it really well. It was an awesome experience!

    1. Thank you Jo, glad that you like the pics ๐Ÿ™‚ Don’t think I have ever experienced something like this before..well, I had picnics by the waterfall but not sitting at a table with my ankles in the water, LOL! Cheers!

    1. Yup, do go to Villa Escudero when you’re in Manila. It’s only a few hours’ drive from Manila. The waterfall lunch is an amazing experience ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hi Mica, you were supposed to join us at Villa Escudero? Oh what a pity! Quite a number of Filipinos have said the same to me when they read this post – the villa brought back childhood memories for them ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. You’ve chosen a lovely place Kat! Any location that provides a glimpse into the past is intriguing to me!
    I have to admit, my favourite part is the waterfall restaurant & I remember seeing the picture on your instagram account:) The banana fritters with caramelized sugar sounds delicious!

    1. The waterfall restaurant experience was extraordinary – have never experienced something like that before – yeah, am glad I made the right choice ๐Ÿ™‚

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