Philippines

Casa San Miguel – Artist Retreat in Zambales, Philippines

At first glance the Zambales region seems like that typical small-town community type area with a few beach resorts here and there. After taking a closer look you’ll be incredibly surprised with how rich it is in culture and art!

In one of my adventures to San Antonio, Zambales (Philippines), I heard of this place called Casa San Miguel.  We were told it had some good food and some old Spanish style art. I had no idea that this would turn into one of my favorite places to visit in the area!

What is Casa San Miguel? 

This beautiful home located in San Miguel, Philippines, was first built in 1921 and has since always been home to different artists. It’s first inhabitant was Ramon L. Corpus who went on as one of the founders of the Manila Symphony Orchestra.

In it’s first years it was a simple patch of land in which an orchard was planted. That orchard grew and so did it’s owners love for music and art. Over the years it has been home to many musicians, but it first opened it’s doors to the local San Antonio children as a school of music in 1993 lead by Coke Bolipata.

Casa San Miguel
Entrance of Casa San Miguel.

What at first we thought was just going to be a place for lunch turned into a wonderful experience learning about art, music, culture, and relaxation.

Casa San Miguel has many things to offer it’s visitors including: 

  • Tour of the house and grounds by a guide (English or Tagalog speaking) for P125 each (P75 for kids)
  • Free drinks (iced tea or coffee) during the tour.
  • Access to the art museum full of collections by local artists
  • Lunch/dinner at the Casa Backstage Cafe
  • Accommodation at Casa Bed and Breakfast
  • Unexpected recitals by local children/students in the music program.

How to get there

If you’re planning to go to Casa San Miguel it’s quite easy from Manila. From most Victory Liner stations you can take a bus going to Iba for P250 (About $5 USD). The easiest bus stations are either in Pasay or Cubao, Manila. They have Buses going to Iba every few hours.

Once you start to pass through San Antonio city (about 2 hours before Iba) you should go down at the 7Eleven store on the main road. There will only be one 7Eleven store in the town.

Once you get down, flag down any tricycle driver (there’s plenty next to 7Eleven) and request them to go to Casa San Miguel for P60. They will lead you right to the entrance of the property.

Note: From the road you will not see Casa San Miguel. Don’t get discouraged. Just walk down the long driveway through the beautiful mango trees until you reach the house.

Casa San Miguel Mango Orchard
The giant mango trees along the entrance of Casa San Miguel.

Taking the tour at Casa San Miguel

Whether you’re staying the night or getting lunch, you have to take the tour of the building and grounds first. It costs P100(Around $2 USD) and it takes about an hour depending on how many photos you take.

When you approach the house you’ll see the entrance with a window to make the ticket purchase. A guide will then take you around the property and explain the history of the building, the art, the music, and the restaurant.

Casa San Miguel Art Museum
The house is in pristine condition and is packed full of artwork on every wall!

During the tour you will see kids practicing violin or other arts in the rooms upstairs. You will also walk through the art museum which has beautiful works of art from local artists.

Casa San Miguel Theater
There is an auditorium as well inside the house for performances from the children.

Renting Rooms at Casa San Miguel

You can stay overnight in Casa San Miguel by availing either their 2 person or 4 person rooms. The 2 person rooms are located in the main building just beneath the violin practicing rooms.

As a precaution, the kids do play music during the daytime so don’t expect to get much sleep during the day. If you want something quieter you can go for the 4 person rooms which are located in a separate building.

If you want to book a room you can call Casa San Miguel at 0917 838 2752 or message them on Facebook here.

Dining at Casa San Miguel

The Casa Backstage Cafe is a beautiful restaurant with some of the most amazing Instagram worthy picture spots! During your tour they will take you to the cafe to get a free drink but you are welcome to eat lunch or dinner here as well.

Casa Backstage Cafe, Casa San Miguel
The Casa Backstage Cafe
Casa Backstage Cafe, Casa San Miguel
The Casa Backstage Cafe

When we went it was a weekday so they had very limited options on the menu so we had to eat elsewhere, but based on the reviews we saw online their chef is great and even offers to make customized options based on your tastes.

I’ll definitely be back again to eat here over a weekend.

Casa San Miguel
From the back side of Casa San Miguel you can see upstairs there are 3 balconies from different guest rooms. On the lower level is the Casa Backstage Cafe which has both indoor and outdoor seating.

Leaving Casa San Miguel…

As you leave Casa San Miguel you’ll feel a bit sad leaving behind this beautiful gem in the middle of the hidden mango grove, but thats why I had to share it with you today.

On your next trip through Zambales remember to stop in San Antonio and jump down to take the tour through Casa San Miguel to add some art and culture into your life.

Keep traveling and learning always 🙂

Casa San Miguel Roofdeck
If you climb up to the rooftop of Casa San Miguel you can see over the trees. Enjoy your morning coffee up here while listening to the birds chirp.
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