Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Viva Villavicencio

Viva - (adj.) living, enjoying life, active; (int.) hurray!

A well-deserved description indeed! Villavicencio's heritage houses at 33 Marella Street in Taal, Batangas is probably one of the most popular destinations in the town.  The pre-1850 ancestral house was the abode of Gliceria Marella de Villavivencio or "Aling Eriang." Aptly referred to as the "Forgotten Heroine of the Philippine Revolution," she and her husband Eulalio Villavicencio contributed a great part of their fortune to help the revolutionary forces against Spain. 

Gliceria Marella House
Aling Eriang donated the family ship, the "SS Bulusan" which was purchased in 1893 and it was the first warship of the Revolutionary Government.
Thanks to the massive restoration effort of their fourth generation descendant and great grandson Ernesto "Ernie" Fajardo Villavicencio, the Gliceria Marella House still stand erect and thus, in its own way, able to narrate a part of history unknown to many of us. In the main sala (salon), portraits of Eulalio and Gliceria done by Juan Luna, still hang.

The house became a secret meeting place of some Katipuneros, who would at that time disguise as sabungeros (cockfighters), like Andres Bonifacio, Feliciano Jocson, Felipe Calderon and Miguel Malvar. In fact, in their dining area, a secret exit door was even constructed. It's obviously where the Katipuneros would run and hide just in case the Spaniards would try to investigate.

Secret exit door
Also known as bahay na bato, the house was also made of original Philippine hardwoods such as narra, ipil and molave. The house still has the well-preserved canvass trompe l’oeil walls done in the early 1900's by an artist named Alvero (restored in 1997 by PASCON) and the original tin ceiling (originally white but was re-painted as black) on which the materials were purchased from Belgium. The bedrooms, on the other hand, were filled with delicate memorabilia and some ancestor’s photos while the kusina (dirty kitchen) somehow reminds me of our own old house in Lipa City.

Original tin ceiling; materials purchased from Belgium

Aside from the main house, Eulalio built another house beside it (which was previously connected by a covered bridge). It was his wedding gift to his beloved Gliceria Marella, thus it became known as the "Gift House" or specifically the "Wedding Gift House." Some has fondly called it as the "Goldilocks House," because of its colorful facade, which was the result of its restoration.

Eulalio Villavicencio "Gift House"

The book about Gliceria Marella is situated at the sala of the "Gift House."
In a blog detailing some excerpts on her life, in January 1892, Gliceria and Eulalio (who even went to Hongkong) gave Dr. Jose Rizal  Php18,000 to finance some of his subversive writings like Noli Me Tangere, El Filibusterismo, La Solidaridad and the by-laws of La Liga Filipina. Some original copies are even kept on the house's entresuelo (mezzanine).

Entresulelo, which became also as "nursing" room for some injured katipuneros

By just donating Php50 you can enter these houses and be amazed at the preserved past that Taal has. I was blessed to have been able to enter these houses since, in most cases, you ought to be part of Taal Heritage Tour (usually organized for students) before you can do so. Good thing when I pass by the "Gift House" it was being cleaned, thus I was able to ask. The Villavicencio house, on the other hand, was being set up for a TV shoot and so I was also able to inquire.

But there are actually more heritage houses and structures you can visit such as the Goco Ancestral House and Ylagan-Dela Rosa Ancestral House. There's also Don Leon Apacible House, which unfortunately I missed out during the trip.

Goco Ancestral House
Ylagan-Dela Rosa Ancestral House

I was about to go home when, alas, Mang Domeng, the caretaker of Gregorio Agoncillo Mansion, confirmed that I can enter and take some pictures of the heritage site. Unfortunately, though, I run out of battery and was not able to take enough pictures.

Gregorio Agoncillo Mansion, shot across the street

The mere number of heritage houses tells us much of what Taal has to offer. The town itself is treated like a big museum, and Familia Villavicencio is at the forefront of heritage advocacy and tourism efforts to continuosly maintain the beautiful history of Taal Town.

If you'd like to set up tours and/or accommodations (yes, you can actually rent the house for yourselves!) on Villavicencio Residences, you may contact the following:

Gliceria Villavicencio House: 09228678256
Eulalio Villavicencio "Gift House": 09227621735


  1. aaaahhhh! feast in the eye... i love colonial houses in the philippines. the details of articles are telling stories!!! this is a very informative and entertaining post!

  2. Hi Ron! Wow, flattered that you take time to comment on my blog. This, in turn, made my day! :-)


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