November 23, 2009

Walls painted using Art Nouveau style
walls painted with distinctive art nouveau curves and twirls

A trip to the heritage town of Taal is a trip to Philippine's colonial past. There, one is treated to the grand vista of an old Spanish era church and a quiet stroll down streets lined with colonial houses.

One of the notable colonial houses there is the ancestral home of the Villavicencios called the "Gift House". It was built by Eulalio Villavicencio as a wedding gift to his bride Gliceria Marella in 1871. The house was built next to the Villavicencio's original home, now called Casa Villavicencio.

Facade
facade of the "Gift House"

We were lucky to be invited inside the "gift house" to take photos. The house was closed as they were entertaining guests at the time we passed by there so we just took photos of the facade. As we were about to leave, one of the guests spotted our group and mentioned that we should be taking photos of the interior. It was a suggestion that we were most happy to follow.

Hallway
hallway leading to the staircase

The unassuming facade of the house belies the richly decorated and well preserved interior. From the wooden double door, one passes through a vestibule that leads to the main staircase. The floor of the hallway is decorate with tiles bearing intricate patterns.

Main Stairs
main staircase

The wooden staircase then opens to a antesala bounded by brightly painted walls. There are two balconies there that gives one a view of the courtyard below. The walls are decorated with art nouveau designs by Emilio Alvero, one of the prominent architects and interior designer at that time.

Living Room
main sala with its painted ceiling

The antesala leads to the dining area, a bedroom, and to the main sala. A double door, with a portrait of Eulalio on one side and Gliceria's on the other (the original portraits were done by Juan Luna), opens to the large main sala furnished with lounging chairs and mariposa sofa with rattan weavings.

Bedroom
one of the bedrooms

The interiors probably looked pretty much like how it used to, except for the addition of modern necessities like electric lamps and air conditioning units installed in the dining area and one of the rooms.

Dining Room
dining room

My favorite part of the house was the dining room which looked different from the rest of the house with its green walls and relatively "modern" look.. I couldn't help but imagine the lavish dinners once hosted in this room.

As I went around the house, appreciating each nook, I couldn't help but be thankful that such a colorful heritage is well preserved and so unselfishly shared. The Villavicencio house is truly a gift house - a heritage gift to the current generation.

Pieces of History
- Eulalio and Gliceria Marella were staunch supporters of the Filipino revolution against the Spanish rule. Gliceria, more affectionately known as "Aling Eriang", is considered one of the heroes of the 1898 revolution
- The Villavicencio house served as the revolutionaries' headquarters in Taal.

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28 comments:

  1. wow, this is simply grand! i love the sala, the beautiful pastels on the ceiling and painted walls are elegant.

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  2. And who would ever think that kinda simple facade bears much art, oh well, if only they could preserve it really well... because at this point in time, we need places like this one that preserves not only the art of Filipinos, but as well as the culture we have been given.

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  3. grabe, what a beautiful house! so well-preserved, and that includes each piece of furniture and decor. especially that piano, we don't see the likes of that anymore in homes except in museums.

    thanks too for the history tidbit. interesting :)

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    1. Having a piano during those days speaks well of the owner's affluency, and in this case, the piano was a gift to Monserrat Villavicencio Joven who used to teach music at the PWU. "Monsy" as she is called, have Rosie Villavicencio, Natividad and Popo as the other siblings. Natividad is a very dear friend of Lucrecia Kasilag, a National Artist who heads the CCP during the Marcos years. "Monsy" and husband Jerry Joven, who used to perform as a quartet at the Metropolitan Center, has 2 kids, Jocelyn, married to a Quiblat and Jorge. The house restoration started in 1997 by Jocelyn and husband Mr. Quiblat, under the masterful guidance of a certain Mr. Tinio. Most of the antique furniture and priceless pieces used to be stored at the Villavicencio's Post American house in Paco, Manila....

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  4. Is this house open to the public?

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  5. So glad you were invited inside. You gave a marvelous tour of an amazing piece of history. I admire the detail, paintings and tile work. Great post and captures as always.

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  6. @bertN, I think yes if the owners are not entertaining guests. They also limit the number of visitors inside

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  7. the house is very beautiful =)
    i love the dining room and the main sala

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  8. This is SO beautiful! Gorgeous interiors and well-preserved indeed! Why aren't there more historical houses in the Philippines? Or maybe we do, but I just don't know about them. Sadly. I love this house!!!

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  9. i like this house. sarap tumira diyan pag nakaretire na. hehehe...

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  10. @jen - there are many, specially in the Ilocos area (Vigan, Laoag, etc). In Taal town there are a couple more that we have not have the chance to visit

    @dom - kailangan lang maingat ka baka masira mo yung mga antigo :D

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  11. Truly very grand and beautiful! I hope these ancestral houses will remain well-maintained by their owners.

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  12. I love the dining room! The green walls really helped in popping out the elegance of that part of the house. Very grand and yet has that "homey" vibe.

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  13. @Nomadic Pinoy, I hope so too. The owners are pretty well off so I think this house will stay beautiful for a long time

    @dyosa, dining room's my fave too :)

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  14. wow!! this place is amazing

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  15. my dad's middle name is villavicencio and my great grandmother is feliza villavicencio from taal. i have still yet to see the two ancestral homes in person. beautiful pictures. thanks for sharing.

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  16. nice, i wanna visit this also,,
    nice pics

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  17. My dad's middle name is also Villavicencio and my grandmother is Rosario Villavicencio Melevo. Anyway, we're going to visit this place on December. - Arvy

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  18. Wow! what a perfect ambiance that was absolutely a great gift house I like it so much. :)

    vitton

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  19. Very impressive murals on ceilings, stencil paintings on wall and the amazing victorian inspired interior designs. Hope i can visit this ancestral house one of these days. Who i need to contact? Thanks:)

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  20. This is a really wonderful blog post. I've been to one similar house in Cebu a few years back. There's so much artistic details that I do plan to replicate one someday!

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  21. i just love the four poster bed! i cant help but imagine how to live in such a grandeur! it reminds me of my grandmother's house..

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  22. To Arvy (anonymous)...I am a first cousin of your grandmother Rosario Villavicencio Melevo, whom we fondly called "Ate Rosie", who used to live at La Loma, Quezon City. I had fond memories of Ate Pacing her older sister, Ate Rosie, Manong Rogie (Rogelio) and Manong Dielfie (Delfin Jr.). Somehow I lost track of all of them when I was taken to the USA by my Mom, Catalina Villavicencio when I was young very young. We are the youngest generation of cousins among the Incocencio / Saturnina Villavicencio clan.

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  23. Hi! I'd just like to ask, what is the art movement inspiration for this house? Thanks!

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  24. This has the Victorian period inspiration since this house was built 1870.

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  25. are the colors used were, to define spanish colonial era? Or was it expressed to the contemporary thing, like renovation? Thanks!

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  26. Hi Abigail, the colors & design of the house is typical during the late Victorian period, 1870. Our consultants were Sonny Tinio, a historian, & co-author of many books such as Philippine Ancestral Houses, etc. He was also consultant of Casa Manila in Intramuros. I would also like to make a correction re the name of the painter on the walls. It was commissioned by Carlo Magno & his team. Carlo has done exhibits with Ramon Orlina & has participated in auctions at Sotheby's. Here is a video on a bit of history of the house & its owners & the restoration process. Thanks. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=r4Exuprq198

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  27. Please come and visit Taal town. Visit the Facebook page at Villavicencio Wedding Gift House.

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