Monday, November 23, 2009

Taal Town Villavicencio Heritage House: Luck guides us in

We had a leisurely lunch of tawilis (fresh water sardine) and Bulalo (bone marrow soup) at Taal Bistro and wandered the streets of the town looking, marvelling and ooh'ing and ahh'ing at the old houses, some in a sad state of disrepair, others slowly giving way to the elements.  While walking along the main street away from the Basilica de San Martin de Tours, we chanced upon the Villavicencio Heritage House.  I knocked but there was no answer.

With nothing better to do, we waited for a little while. One of the owners came out of the driveway and we thought we had a chance to tour the house but alas, he told us there was a group using the upstairs hall for a meeting.
We wandered down the street and came around to find people leaving the house. A friendly guy, seeing our cameras and tripods, excitedly told us not to miss exploring the house since they were leaving anyway.  The amiable caretaker ushered us inside and if the house looked beautiful outside, the inside was elegant and tasteful, with an old-world charm. 
The rooms were big, even by today's standards, and meticulously built.  The materials used are what they term as "materyales fuertes" -- the wood used for the floor are wide planks of hardwood while the corner posts are made from very expensive tindalo -- speaking volumes on the status of the owners. 

The furnishings were tasteful right down to rare la mesa de santo, which my buddy, ironwulf, told me is worth more than a million pesos. 

Why, even the details -- from the chairs to the planters, the lamps to the hand-painted walls and ceilings, the grills of the windows to the etchings on the mirrors -- are exquisite. Makes me thankful there are still old houses as well preserved as this, and homeowners who have the inclination (and of course, the wherewithal) to maintain such a huge house (in itself a monumental undertaking) if only to serve as a link to our colonial and colorful past.
The large windows, high ceiling and airy atmosphere, even the familiar paminggalan (place at the window where dishes are air-dried) made me imagine we went back in time to the 1800s. And for a magical hour, it seems we did.


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