Wednesday, December 23, 2015


DURING THE 19TH CENTURY, THE KAMESTISUHAN district of Malolos , Bulacan was the place where wealthy Chinese mestizos resided such as the Tantoco, Reyes, Tiongco, Crisostomo, Uitangcoy and Tanchanco.  The district is presently known as Pariancillo.  Located directly west of the Catedral de Immaculada Concepcion and Basilica Menor of Malolos is the home of the leader of the famed "Women of Malolos" movement, Alberta Uitangcoy-Santos, married to Paulino Santos.
      One of the nine children of the couple, Dr. Luis Santos, built a Victorian "Painted ladies" - inspired house in 1933, located diagonally across his parents abode.  He was a renown practicing eye, ear, nose and throat (EENT) specialist until his death in 1982.  Dr. Luis' son Dr. Sabino "Benny" Santos, followed his father's footstep as an eye specialist, eventually inherited the house.
      The lovely sky-blue monochrome house is substantially set back from the street, protected by the elaborate wrought-iron main gate that leads to an expansive semicircular driveway.  A spacious garden circumscribed by the driveway features ornamental plants and a fountain with a couple of nymphs.  A short flight of stairs leads up to a receiving balcony with two main doors: left door opens to the EENT medical clinic, the right leads to the private residence.
      The interiors of the house was sourced from the Bicol Region.  The architectural detail of the interior is a celebration of Philippine hardwood, narra.  As an entree, the two planks of the meseta is the setting of the fabulous two meter tall newel post.  The finely carved balusters of two-tone narra sweep up to another fabulous newel post on the second floor.  The highlight of the house is the Fernando Amorsolo painting on the ceiling framed by a vast array of wood patterns in different treatments, crafted by master carvers of Bulacan.  Amorsolo was one of the satisfied patients of Dr. Santos who was commissioned by the doctor to create the masterpiece ceiling.
      Somehow the deluge of decorative architectural details in the house managed to interact harmoniously with each other.  Lacey-wrought iron grillwork is utilized throughout the interior.  Over the landing is the ornate staircase ceiling with integrated light bezels.  The landing is directly illuminated during the daytime by the floor-to-ceiling fixed, frosted glass panels.  The living room space is also lit by well mounted Art Deco slipper shades.  The design of the wood carvings must have been inspired by the Art Deco and Art Nouveau styles, probably encountered by Dr. Santos during his travels abroad.
      A faded copy of the original oil painting on canvass commissioned by Dr. Luis in 1932 entitled Kundiman by Fabian de la Rosa hangs above a handsome Zeitter and Winkelmann piano.  The painting depicts Dr. Luis himself in the left foreground, wearing a white suit, and his younger sisters among the audience members, listening to a piano-accompanied serenade sung by a soprano.  Fabian de la Rosa is Amorsolo’s uncle and mentor who was also a patient of Dr. Santos.  The painting was unfortunately sold and the funds were used to clean and restore the Amorsolo ceiling painting some years back, now in the Paulino Que art collection.
      There is a private chapel adjacent to the living room, beyond the Amorsolo ceiling painting.  The door is a double-paneled glazed door with stylized wrought-iron birds of paradise, a common theme in the house.  The Art Deco retablo of the chapel is made of richly carved and gold-leafed wood.
      Though Dr. Benny Santos could not recall who his father’s architect was, records show that Alejandro Yelab Caudal is the famed maestro de obra who worked on this magnificent house.  His daughter, Celia Caudal-Dizon, was the 1946 Architecture Board Exams topnotcher.  MARIA CHRISTINA V. TURALBA, FUAP, PIEF

Thursday, December 3, 2015


THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY HOUSE, NOW IN Bagac, Bataan, was originally in Jaen, Nueva Ecija.  It was the Sunday Tribune's House Beautiful Award in 1917, placing it in the same category as larger and more elaborate homes such as El Nido, the Dewey Boulevard home designed by Andres Luna de San Pedro for the de campanilla lawyer Eugene Perkins. 
     The home harks back to the 19th century with its stone ground floor and azotea at rear.  However its windows are no longer capiz but large glass panes.  It also has a large protruding front room similar to homes built in the same period, below which is a porte cochere and the main entrance.
     The Esquivel family had an older house, built in 1890 also in Jaen, but the patriarch decided to build a second home, the present Casa Jaen I, to host the homecoming party of a son returning from studies in the United States.
     The Esquivels have been active in politics, numbering among them the first American Regime Mayor of Jaen.  In the process, they accumulated enemies who occasionally took potshots at the house.  Still visible bullet holes on outside and inside walls testify to the riskiness of Nueva Ecija politics.

     The elaborate stairs lead up to the caida and a central corridor that links the sala at the front of the house and the comedor at rear.  Bedrooms are the the sides.  Th upper walls of interior partitions have decorative and functional ventilation panels for improved air circulation, a feature that became popular in the early 20th century. JAIME C. LAYA, Ph.D.

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