Feast of the Ascension at Villa Escudero

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Becky Garcia

Becky Garcia

Every year, Don Ado Escudero hosts one of the grandest and most colorful celebrations of the Feast of the Ascension held 40 days after Easter. On June 1, Don Escudero made the feast another memorable affair at his Villa Escudero in San Pablo, Laguna.

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The Villa Escudero is one of the best and most traditional local resorts in the country. Entering the beautiful hacienda during the feast, one would step back in awe with its enchanting beauty. The hacienda’s focal point is the Escudero family’s majestic house perfectly positioned in a backdrop of mountains. In front of the residence is a beautifully manicured gardens with a large fountain in the middle.

Outside the main entrance, the Banda Anak Zapote of Bacoor, Cavite—wearing brightly red colored uniforms—awaited guests. They also performed music for the traditional “Higantes” parade that went all the way to the Villa Escudero Chapel.

The Higantes originated as a way of protest by struggling farmers long ago. They made the giant effigies of their landlords on their own time with their own hands using indigenous materials. The Higantes caricatured their foreign masters’ bloated sense of superiority.

The parade’s arrival at the chapel marked the beginning of the Solemn Concelebrated High Mass officiated by His Excellency, Most Reverend Archbishop Diosdado Talamayan Metropolitan Emeritus of Tuguegarao. He was assisted by visiting priests and the heavenly music of the UST Symphony Orchestra and the angelic voices of the three UST Choirs.

Arriving at the chapel, everyone met the warm smile and open arms of Don Escudero personally welcoming each individual guest. The filled chapel was also in its best attire of beautiful flowers throughout.

The reverend bishop delivered the most appropriate sermon: Open your eyes to life. Villa Escudero is a heavenly sanctuary that allows everyone to open their eyes to life.

The sermon was followed by a beautiful offertory dance in traditional dress and hand clappers for the blessing of the rice and vegetables, in the custom of long ago.

After Mass, guests enjoyed the “Bati” Procession from the Chapel of the Ascension to the Labasin River landing. There, the Higantes parade followed, while the Holy Cross of Bauan Batangas and the fully gowned Statue of Jesus, depicting his resurrection into heaven, were also brought. The Banda Trenta’y Una of Bulacan provided the music for the procession.

Upon arrival at the river landing, the Holy Cross, the image of Jesus, and band embarked on a decorated pagoda, followed by decorated small boats. The barge and its entourage of smaller boats proceeded to the Garden Pavilion for thanksgiving ritual of the Risen Christ.

The lunch at Wedding Hall with the traditional lechon and a big buffet spread blessed by the Most Reverend Bishop finally followed. Performances throughout lunch included a cultural and religious dance, a serenade by the one and only Dulce, and energizing songs by Darius Razon, Rachel Gerodias, Vanessa Rieyel, and The Four Tenor.

The full day of celebration ended with a procession of the image of the Risen Christ back to the Ancestral House, where a sumptuous dinner awaited all the remaining guests who stayed over, as well as the 1,000 staff responsible for making the Feast of the Ascension at Villa Escudero a most unforgettable experience.

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