Thursday, June 30, 2016


BUILT IN 1870 BY DON EULALIO VILLAVICENCIO y Marella, the house was presented to Dona Gliceria Marella y Legaspi on the occasion of their marriage in 1871.  Hence, it came to be called “The Wedding Gift house.”
The couple lived in the house until the death of Don Eulalio’s parents who left him the adjoining house. Since it was bigger, the couple moved over to the older house to accommodate their growing family.
The Wedding Gift House then served as a guest house.  The Luna brothers stayed there in January 1892 while soliciting contributions throughout Batangas for the Propaganda Movement.  The Villavicencio couple donated Php18,000 to the cause, a sum equivalent to Php6.5 million today.  In gratitude, Juan Luna gifted the couple with their portraits which were subsequently framed in beautifully carved and gilded frames by Isabelo Tampinco.
Don Jose Villavicencio, Don Eulalio’s son, lived in the house with his wife Micaela Atienza until his death in the 1980s.  Since they were childless, the house was occupied after his death by one of his wards who converted it into apartments, with an entire family occupying each room.  For a while, the house even became a toy factory.
In the communal partition the house went to the heirs of Dona Vicenta Villavicencio de Villavicencio, Gliceria’s eldest daughter.  Monserrat Villavicencio Joven, Vicenta’s eldest child, inherited the house.  Her daughter Jocelyn Villavicencio Joven and her husband, Advinculo Cuay Quiblat, are the present caretakers of the house.
Since the Wedding Gift House was separated from the main house by a garden, Don Eulalio built a GI-roofed wooden bridge to connect the azateas of rear terrace of both houses to facilitate interaction between the two Villavicencio houses.  His family could visit thus his parents without having to go out into the street.  Unique in the country because of its corrugated roof, the bridge stood there until the 1990’s, when its dangerously derelict condition called for its demolition.
A real three-bayed bahay na bato painted in the original indigo blue and yellow ochre, the walls of the entire house, including that of the second floor except for the front, are built of adobe blocks.  A wooden volada or “flying balcony” on the second floor fronting the street is walled with carved molave panels and   wall-to wall sliding capiz windows topped by multi-lobed exterior transoms, also of capiz.  Above the upper window sill are decorative slats, where Japanese lanterns were hung during processions.  Ventanillas or “little windows” beneath the pasamano or window sill are faced with iron grillwork wrought in the palmette motif with cast-led ornamentation typical of the 1870s.  The neo-Gothic ogee arches carved on the main double doors replicated those in the older Villavicencio House.
The house is unusual because the two main double doors to the zaguan are built on either side of a central bay sporting a large decorative wrought-iron grille with a palmette motif decorated   with cast-lead ornaments.  The left door led to that part of the zaguan where the carruaje or carriage was kept when not in use.  A door on the left opened   to the central garden with a stone stairway at the end leading up to the azotea.  The caballeriza or stable was located under the azotea.  The left zaguan door also served as a tradesman’s entrance to the large and spacious concerns of the Villavicencios.  French doors on the street side let light in, while sliding the capiz windows on either side of the entresuelo ensured good cross-ventilation.  The main door or puerta mayor on the right was for the exclusive use of the family and their friends.  It opened an airy zaguan tiled with azulejos, handpainted decorative tiles imported from Spain that also paved the stairs leading to the meseta.  A door to the right of the meseta led to the garden that separated the house from its neighbor.
The Villavicencio-Marella House has many features.  Aside from being the only one in Taal where the zaguan is floored with azulejos, it is one of a handful in Batangas, where the formal rooms have French doors opening to the balconies also floored with azulejo tiles.  The turned and carved kalabasa or squash-shaped balusters so typical of Taal were repainted in the original primary colors. This is the only house in the country where the rejas na buntis is overlooking the garden.  The unusual louvered doors with delicately carved transoms of the bedrooms made for better ventilation and air circulation.  They were probably inspired by those in the newly reconstructed Ayuntamiento building in Intramuros.

Although the house was lived in by Don Jose Villavicencio, Dona Gliceria’s son until his death in the 1980s, no major repairs were done on the house during his occupancy, except for the time of his death, the original hand painted canvas walls and ceilings had fade by then, with only traces of the original paintings discernable.
When the rooms of the house were converted to apartments after his death, the house became derelict.  Leaks in the roof had rotten some of the floorboards and many posts had sunk due to wood rot.  The dining-room floor sagged dangerously at one end so that the room could not be used.  By 1990, the house had fallen into disrepair and only half of it was habitable.
It was the only when the house was inherited by Monserrat Villavicencio de Joven that her daughter Jocelyn Villavicencio Joven and her husband Advinculo Cuay Quiblat decided to restore the house to its former glory.  The sagging and leaking roof was repainted, the posts were jacked up and reinforced, and the rotten floorboards replaced.  With the help of Martin I. Tinio Jr., a very close friend, the walls of the upper floor were painted in the style of the 1870s, using colors typical of that period.  The garden was landscaped with plants mentioned in the third edition of F. Blanco’s book Flora de Filipinas that was published in 1883.  A gazebo in the 1890s-style was built in the garden.  The process took six years, but the house is now a delight to the beholder.  MARTIN I. TINIO

Full text credit to Martin I. Tinio
Credits to original photo owners

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


       THE PADRE BURGOS HOUSE MUSEUM IN THE UNESCO World Heritage City of Vigan is located at the rear of the Capitol of Ilocos Sur and rather close to St. Paul’s Metropolitan Cathedral.  Interestingly, it is adjacent to the ancient 1657 provincial jail.  The house was constructed in 1788 by peninsulares Don Juan de Gonzales from the city of Asturias, Spain, and wife Dona Florentina Gascon of Sta. Cataluna de Baja.  The medium size (422 sq. m. floor area) balay a bato was later left to granddaughter Doña Florencia Garcia who marred in July 28, 1834, Don Jose Tiburcio Burgos, Tiniente de Batalion de Lilicias de Ylocos 5 Linea.  Their son, Josep Apolonio Burgos y Garcia (Padre Jose Apolonio Burgos), born February 9, 1837, is one of the early Filipinos who entered priesthood that manifested outstanding academic excellence.
A Cozy Garden
       Padre Jose Burgos studied at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran and the Universidad de Santo Tomas, received three college degrees and two master’s degrees, a doctorate, Doctor en Teologia and Licenciado en Canones on October 29, 1868.  He taught Latin in the Universidad de Santo Tomas.  With his extensive education, Padre Burgos became the parish priest of the Sagrario de Intramuros, and the second parish priest of the Cathedral.  He held various positions in the Roman Catholic Church as Ecclesiastical Fiscal at Sagrario de Intramuros, Canonical Magistrate at the Manila Cathedral and as an Ecclesiastical Court Fiscal.
       Despite his high position, his awareness of the unfair treatment of Filipino priest moved him to work for reforms for Filipino priests.  He inspired the second novel of Dr. Jose Rizal, El Filibusterismo.  Eventually, his liberal ideas led him to be framed along with two other priests, Fr. Mariano Gomez and Fr. Jacinto Zamora as mastermind of the Cavite mutiny of January 20, 1872.  The three priests collectively known as “GOMBURZA,” were executed using a winch-type garrote at the Bagumbayan (Luneta Park) field on February 17, 1872.
Inside The Burgos House
       The type of the structure of the Padre Jose Burgos house is the earliest form of the balay a bato in the city of Vigan.  This balay a bato is symmetrical with fine proportions but much smaller and lower in height than those built at a later time. 
       The lower floor, sirok, is presently used as an exhibition area of cultural artifacts of the early Ilocano and Tingguian communities in the Ilocos region. This was used for weaving the famous abel, as storage for crops such as rice, corn and tobacco, jars of fermenting vinegars, and storage of assorted tools and gears. The thick walls are constructed of bricks plastered with lime mortar and punctuated at regular intervals with windows, protected with awnings and grill works.  
       The main floor leads to a wide wooden staircase that leads to a caida that segregates the living   quarters from the service area.  The upper floor of the main house is occupied by social areas and sleeping quarters.  The floor is of a variety of Philippines hard wood of assorted width.  The airy, generous social space is flanked on both sides by bedrooms.  A collection of 19th century paintings by the famous local painter Don Esteban Villanueva depicting the Basi Revolution of 1807 hangs on the walls of the living room furnished with Ilocos period furniture.  A bedroom contains furniture and interesting memorabilia of the Fr. Jose Burgos.  The other bedroom is furnished with furniture of the 19the century.
       The main   house, rectangular on plan, is roofed with the distinctive cuatro aguas with braced demi-awnings that serve as secondary protection of the windows from rain and sun.  Sliding windows of capiz and wood protect the generous windows, evenly distributed around the house.  The openings above the window transom are secured   with diamond-shaped wood slats.  The ventanillas below the windows are protected with wood barandillas of straightforward design.

The Kitchen
       Aside from the main house there is a smaller structure used for cooking, pantry and other household chores.  These two structures are connected by a lovely azotea protected by railings with the original clay barandillas.  Stairs from the azotea lead down to the backyard garden with the ubiquitous balon.  The service house has a steeper dos aguas roof that still has the original clay roof tiles.  The contrived roof designs create a seldom-appreciated interesting ensemble of rooflines.

One Creepy Corner
       In the later years, the house was sold to Doña Mena Crisologo and was used as the Post Office until 1932 and as a branch of the Philippine National Bank from 1946 to 1965.  The Crisologo heirs eventually sold the house to Insular Life Assurance Company, Ltd., through Don Enrique Zobel de Ayala.  It was renovated by the Filipinas Foundation, Inc. and inaugurated on May 3, 1975.  Established as the Ilocos Sur Museum, it was turned over in 1986 to the Ilocos Historical and Cultural Foundation, Inc.  Eventually, in 1989 the foundation turned over the administration to the National Museum.     ∞ MARIA CHRISTINA V. TURALBA, FUAP, PIEF

* All photos downloaded in the internet. Credits to owners. Thanks

Thursday, February 11, 2016


IN THE HEART OF THE BUSTLING COMMERCIAL center of Lipa City is a lovely residential enclave with a 19th century bahay na bato surrounded by contemporary homes of some of the present heirs.  The house is one of the housed build by Don Norberto Calao Katigbak who was a gobernadorcillo from 1862 to 1863.  He was married to Doña Justa Mitra de San Miguel-Solis and had children who were sent to the prestigious schools in Manila.  During this golden period, the prominent families of Lipa amassed their fortunes from “brown gold” – coffee.  They often traveled abroad and entertained with elegance in their homes.  Houses of affluent families were not limited to one.  All would be surrounded with lush orchards and lavishly embellished with fine furniture and imported objets d’ art. Don Norberto was known to own estates equivalent to the land area of “15 barangays.” 
Casa de Segunda (Luz-Katigbak House) was a gift of Don Norberto to his daughter Doña Segunda Solis Katigbak.  Her name is romantically linked to the national hero, Dr. Jose
Rizal, in most books/articles about the national hero.  It is claimed by the Lipeños that she was Dr. Rizal’s first love.  Segunda then was 14 years old and Rizal, 16 years old and a recent graduate of Ateneo.
       Segunda was a classmate of Olimpia Rizal in Colegio de la Concordia in Santa Ana.  She met Dr.Memorias de un Estudiante de Manila, he wrote “I do not know what alluring something is all over her being.  She is not the most beautiful woman I have ever seen but I had never seen one more bewitching or alluring.”
Rizal through his sister Olimpia, whom he would visit weekly.  The older brother of Segunda, Don Mariano Solis-Katigbak, was also a classmate and became the best friend of Dr. Jose Rizal who frequently visited Lipa.  It was then that Dr. Jose Rizal became more acquainted with Segunda.  As manifested in Dr. Rizal’s diary, poems and sketches, he was very enamored with Segunda.  In his diary,

       In the diary of Dr. Rizal dated November 16, 1881, he wrote: “It is true that during the conversation, our eyes met and the most intense glances full of a loving melancholy expression came to enslave my soul forever.”  But then Segunda was already betrothed to a distant relative and a wealthy planter from Lipa, Don Manuel Mitra de San Miguel-Luz.  Her Lipeño parents were very pleased with this match, with Don Manuel Luz coming from the same social status as their family.  Martin I. Tinio Jr., in the book Batangas: Forged In Fire, cites that it was unfortunate that her parents did not approve of Dr. Rizal.  They had his letters burned, as well as Segunda’s  pencil sketch of Rizal.
  Don Manuel and Doña Segunda were married, had nine children.  Most children opted to concentrate in the professional field.  The Luz-Katigbaks lived a very comfortable and fulfilling life.  They are known in Lipa as a family of scholars, political leaders, professionals and artists.  The present generation is entrenched in the various professions, political leadership and successful business enterprises.  The National Artist for Visual Arts Arturo Luz is a descendant of this bloodline.
       Though the house is located in a busy sector of Lipa City, the fountain, fishpond and the orchard remain as the focal point of the enclave.  The    entrance to the zaguan is through this delightful courtyard.  The zaguan that used to open to the street, metamorphosed over time from coffee-harvest storage to a professional office with a spacious receiving area for guest.  Presently the zaguan is an orientation area for   visitors, filled with information materials, copy of a portrait of Segunda, copy of the portrait of her parents, photographs of the families of the Luz-Katigbak heirs and cultural artifacts.
       The moderate-sized bahay na bato that must have been originally built on a square plan with the azotea extending the house into an L-shaped plan.  The ground floor thick stonewall perimeter is plastered with lime mortar.  The zaguan floor of 19th century black-and-white floor tiles is still intact although the house was partially damaged during the bombing of Lipa during World War II.  The house was repaired in 1956 by Paz Luz-Dimayuga and was eventually declared a national historic site by the National Historical Institute.  She lived in the house; enjoyed bringing visitors around the house and sharing stories of the life of the past generations.

       The area below the azotea was converted into a comedor with a pleasant view of the inner court with a quatrefoil-shaped fountain, lush vegetation and a replica of a 19th century house occupied by one of the heirs.  The comedor floor is higher than the floor of the zaguan but not quite the same level as the meseta of the main staircase that leads to the second floor.

       The main staircase leads up to the second floor into a spacious formal living room awash with sunlight.  Floors are of narra planks, not very wide but of deep warm color.  Generous window openings surround the three sides of the living room furnished with 19th century furniture, piano, mirrors and other paraphernalia.  On rainy days, the wood and capiz sliding windows keep the water without blocking the soft light in the house.  On hot, sunny days, the window openings are closed with the second layer of sliding, persiana panels.  Below the broad plank of wooden pasamano are the baluster-protected ventanillas that are likewise open by wood and capiz panels in a diagonal pattern maintain a soft light in the house even when all windows shut out the daylight.

       The bedrooms are located on both sides of the staircase.  The master’s bedroom is furnished with a finely carved narra bed dressed with delicately crocheted bed fineries and the complementary bedroom furniture.  In the other bedrooms there are dresses on mannequins in traditional Filipino clothes previously worn by Segunda.  A passageway from the bedroom area lead out to the azotea refurbished with a service structure.  Restored baluster railings protect the open portion of the azotea.  A stone and lime mortar service stairway from the second floor leads to the courtyard. 
       Casa de Segunda is most frequented by the locals with their guest who would reminisce the glorious past of the city of Lipa.  Teachers would bring the school children here to familiarize then with their culture and touch base with their past.  The present heirs, the great-granddaughters of Doña Segunda Katigbak-Luz, maintain and manage through the house.  Ms. Lileth Malabanan would likely be the one to do this more often since she lives nearby.  MARIA CRISTINA V. TURALBA, FUAP, PIEP