Friday, February 18, 2011

Houses of History in the City

Casa Real, photo courtesy of Museo Iloilo

ILOILO is associated with legacies of Spanish colonial era. Most noticeable lies in its architecture where images of the city in the eighteenth century show manorial old houses, in their ornate facades combined with Classical western influences and folk art motifs. Relics and mementos of the past abound. Mute yet eloquent, reminding everyone of Iloilo’s colorful past bequeathed to the present. Wonderfully atmospheric old architecture blends harmoniously with its cosmopolitan landscape.

photo by Bernard Arellano III

Jaro is one of the six districts of Iloilo City. Considered as one of the oldest towns in the country, it was once a thriving river-port long before the Spain colonized Panay and used to be the richest area in Iloilo during the Spanish colonial period. It was also the center of religious and economic power in the Visayas at that time. It is noted for its many nineteenth-century architecture homes of affluent mestizo families.

photo by Bernard Arellano III

The Sanson y Montinola Antillan situated along E. Lopez Street in Jaro district, is one of the very few left intact in the country. Owned by Don Gregorio Montinola y Lozada and Doña Matilde Jalandoni y Habana, It was built at around the turn of the 20th century. The house is rich in variety of textures, colors, materials and pattern. Its lower portion is made of bricks that served as a vestibular area for the main entrance. The upper floor is for the living room. The house sits on a sprawling property that extends up to the other side of the main street. At present, the house is owned and managed by Gregorio Sanson and his wife, Marilou Tirol.

photo by Bernard Arellano III

The Ledesma Mansion was constructed sometime in 1925. Originally owned by Don Joaquin and Doña Pilar Ledesma, the main entrance is made up of Greek columns with colored windows on both sides with a veranda, giving a full view of Jaro plaza. Its rooftop has a big space where family gatherings were usually held. The house was used as a hospital during the Filipino-American War. It was said that the late presidents Ramon Magsaysay and Ferdinand Marcos visited the house.

photo by Bernard Arellano III

The Nelly’s Garden is a much-desired wedding venue due to its elegant facade and garden surroundings. It is a two-hectare property named after the most favored daughter of Don Vicente Lopez y Villanueva and Doña Elena Hofileña y Javelona. The main attraction is its Beaux Art mansion that was designed and built in 1928 by Don Vicente and Engineer Mariano Salas.

Along Sta. Isabel St. in Jaro is a 200–year old house popularly known as Casa Mariquit, home where Mariquit Javellana Lopez grew up before she eloped with Fernando Lopez at a tender age of 16. The house was built by Ramon Javellana, Mariquit’s father, a famous banker. It was later on restored by their grandson, Robert Lopez Puckett. The house is significant for its architectural details, cultural influence and its heirloom furnishings.

The Lopez Boat House in the district of Lapaz, Iloilo City is a stately villa mansion is the ancestral home of former Vice-President Fernando Lopez. Known for its nautical Art Modern style, it was built in 1935 by Architect Fernando Ocampo in collaboration with a Japanese engineer. It features round, porthole-style windows and an expansive upper story deck like that of a ship.

The district of Arevalo in Iloilo City was formerly called La Villa Rica de Arevalo. It became the official residence of the alcalde mayor of Panay and… Negros in The Camina Balay nga Bato or the Avanceña House at Osmeña Street, Arevalo, Iloilo City originally owned by on Fernando Avanceña was built in the 1860s. This two-storey house made of wood and stone has originally 16 rooms. During the revolt of the Ilonggo revolutionaries against the Spanish and American governments, it served as its general headquarters. Presently, it serves as the residence of the Camiña family and its ground floor houses the Mother Theresa North Learning Center.

The Sinamay House along J.V. Jocson Street in Arevalo was established sometime in the late 19th century. Presently owned by Mrs. Cecile Gison-Villanueva, it is one of the few places in the city where one can buy hand-woven textiles such as the sinamay--- a light cloth made of jusi fibers, and hablon, a fabric made of cotton and rayon.

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