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

1 comment:

  1. Hello po! I would like to ask if I may use your photos for a school project? We are tasked to create a digital archive of historical sites around our community and I really loved your pictures. I will definitely make sure to credit you if ever I am given the permission po 😀