Gift is such as special word. And in this holiday season, gift giving even becomes a more popular practice. From small items, to shiny gadgets or expensive clothes, people have different ways to express their gratitude or love by giving gifts. And for a man during the Spanish times like Eulalio Villavicencio, it is giving a house was the perfect gift for his bride Gliceria Marella for their wedding. Built in 1871, the symbol of their love surely stood the test of times.
The blue and yellow facade of the Villavicencio House is a sure head turner when walking among the line of heritage houses of Taal Town. But that’s just on the outside. Luck gave us a nod and we were able to go inside the house. It was my second time there and this time I brought along photography and blogger friends Lagalog, Dongho, Lantaw, Wanderboy and Lawstude for them to experience the house themselves.
Like some typical ancestral house, Villavicencio House is made up of two floors. The ground floor is usually made as a storage room and also houses the carozas used during fiestas. But that doesn’t leave the area looking barren. The main door opens up to a hallway with beautiful tile patterns leading up to the main stairway.
The main stairway leads up to an antesala, a common room with access to all the sections of the house. The bright painted interior, accented by Emilio Alvero‘s art nouveau designs gives a pleasurable sense of space and uplifting air inside the well ventilated house. Even the furnishings and lamp metal works compliments well to the nouveau designs. There was a time when the house has a bridge connecting to the original Villavicencio house now called the Casa Villavicencio.
Another important aspect of the house is how it reflects the Filipino trait of transparency. As one would notice, there are no closed walls inside the house. Even with the doors closed everything could be heard from the open vents on the upper walls. So not everything is sealed or closed. It is not only for better circulation of air around the house but also the transparency of each person living in the house. Much like how a barong is semi-transparent.
The main room holds a rare item as well called the Mesa de Altar. There are only 15 of this special type of mesa de altar and the house has one of them. Most of the rooms and its furnishings remains the same as the original aside from the modern facilities like air-conditioning and fans added.
It was a real pleasure to explore the corners of the house as rarely I have seen a well preserved ancestral house like this. Some ancestral houses are drab, dim and have that old mold smell. Not that their bad but Villavicencio House is just different. It feels vibrant and alive as we dwell inside.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.