August 5, 2013

CASA San Miguel: The Opus of Coke Bolipata

"Then I will cut out my heart and pass it on."
- Coke Bolipata

At some point, I dreamt of playing Bach’s Minuet 1-3. But it was just a passing fancy when I realized I could never be as good as Coke Bolipata. Just by the strokes of his hand, he’s got that absolute power to control the listeners’ emotions. I just recently watched his first heartwarming indie-movie “Boses” and fell in love right away with his endearing and soulful rendition of Mozart, Vivaldi and Rossini played all throughout the film.

I’m a silent fan of Coke. Who wouldn’t? He’s a world renowned violinist, a Julliard alumna, and when I listen to him play “Sana’y Wala nang Wakas”, I feel ambivalent – happy and sad at the same time. So much of my adoration for his music that I travelled all the way to CASA San Miguel in his hometown, where the movie was partly inspired. And hearing the ballad of CASA indeed made a good prelude to my watching “Boses”.

Nestled between the lovely mountains and raging sea of San Antonio, Zambales, CASA (which stands for Center of the Arts in San Antonio) is a picturesque countryside brick and wood chateau, set amidst a lush mango orchard. It is the ancestral house of the Bolipata clan established in 1921, and was opened by Coke as a school and foundation for the local community, right after finishing his studies abroad in 1993. It was his way of giving back to the community, which was greatly devastated when Mt. Pinatubo erupted. The main house exudes a homey, artistic appeal for musicians, artists and art lovers.

The vibrant mural mosaic entrance of CASA

Ramon L. Corpus Concert Hall
named after Coke’s grandfather, also a celebrated concert violinist

A child mentor violinist

CASA supports financially deprived children who have talent in classical music, theater, and visual arts. During weekends and summer, one could see happy and talented children playing the violin under canopy of trees. The best and exceptional young homegrown musicians become part of the Pundaquit Virtuosi, a chamber ensemble composed of scholars of CASA. Julian Duque, the child lead of “Boses” and a musical prodigy, was in fact a member of the group.

Through the years, the CASA has evolved and continue to expand. In 2013, the Museum of Community Heritage was opened to showcase the rich history and natural treasures of Zambales.

Mini-library and colorful hanging mobile sculptures

Inside the bamboos are mini photos about the history of indigenous Aetas

Fishes and corals from Zambales are on display in the saltwater aquarium

CASA also has a cozy bed and breakfast which has become a steady source of income of the foundation to fund their projects. Spending a night surely does a lot to rejuvenate and inspire.

Behind the stone fountain are the room accommodations

A lady sculpture on the ground

Magsaysay Room

All-day dining Backstage Café is the perfect spot to chill out, savor delicious comfort food, and listen to Coke’s soothing music, which I swear I could listen to over and over again.

With the lantern lit patio, the café looks at its best during night time

Wonderful mural of violinists inside the café

Tuyo pasta

Molten lava chocolate cake - it was love at first bite

The sister of Coke, installation artist Plet Bolipata and her visual artist husband Elmer Borlongan, established the charming and whimsical Pasilyo, a country living store and home of the artists within the premises of CASA. Their garden comes alive with all the creative and playful artworks of Plet.

A red car swing

White cats on the tree

Seahorse mosaic sculpture

San Miguel Beach is just less than 10 minute-walk away from CASA. Though sometimes, I miss rubbing rosin in my bowstring, I guess I’m better off running to the sea, taking off my slippers, and braving the waves ahead.

The closest I could get in exciting standing waves on a violin string

I’ve already long accepted that some of my dreams are just not meant to be. But I’m glad Coke built a happy place for children to dream.

CASA San Miguel
Evagelista St., Brgy. San Miguel
San Antonio, Zambales
Tel. No.: 0915-6220335
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