Ado Escudero, tireless host, patron of Intramuros, creative maestro of Villa Escudero, was laid to rest today, Wednesday. His pallbearers were in traditional embroidered white shirts, each one wearing a salakot. A morning mass was followed by interment at the Escudero Mausoleum, Chapel of the Ascension located in the famed plantation cum resort where Escudero grew up.
“Ado loved the Filipino lifestyle and parties, fiestas, any activity that involved people and Filipino traditions. He mentored me in celebrating life in all its forms,” said designer Patis Tesoro of Ado, her longtime friend and confidant who passed away Saturday, November 21, at the age of 87.
Like Patis, those who knew Ado knew him for his untiring efforts in creating beauty that brought joy not only to himself but to other people. He converted his family’s vast coconut plantation into the famed tourist attraction it has become, allowing outsiders a glimpse of the hacienda life he grew up with and also saving the property and the plantation workers after the business of coconut went down decades ago. The resort is, of course, the legendary Villa Escudero in Tiaong, Quezon, famous for its waterfall restaurant, bamboo rafting, and cultural presentations.
Ado is the son of Arsenio Escudero and Rosario Adap, both collectors. He is the fifth of seven children (only the 6th and 7th are still living), the only one who did not live in the city. “We used to swim in the canals, catch fish and crabs and miniature clams,” Ado once said of his childhood in an interview.
When his ates passed, says nephew Eddie Boy Escudero, the photographer, Ado took charge of the resort. “Ado constantly modernized the Villa, upgrading it,” Patis told ANCX. “His last big project was the huge infinity pool next to the lake.”
Ado was a beloved party host. “He loved entertaining even if it meant hosting a lunch or dinner in his home for the whole clan,” added Eddie Boy. He would also spare no expense in conjuring up fantastical gatherings in the hacienda. While he loved many things Filipino, he orchestrated many parties that didn’t involve Filipiniana. Together with Patis, whom he met in the 80s, he put together themed soirées, from old Hollywood to Phantom of the Opera, from carnival to South Pacific.
Ado is also known to organize religious processions not only in Tiaong but also in Intramuros. He was chair of the Comité de Festejos, Cofradía de la Inmaculada Concepción, according to the Manila Bulletin, and helped put together the Intramuros Grand Marian Procession which takes place every first Sunday of December.
“Ado is completely inspirational,” Tina Hidalgo Jacinto once wrote of her friend, after attending his 85th birthday. “He continues to do his part to make the world a better place,” she continued, citing his assistance in restoring heritage structures, managing the Villa because he feels personally responsible for its employees, throwing his parties. To her eyes, he’s a workaholic, but also “a gentleman of unwavering passion, and with a laughter as big as his heart.”