Top 5 Ancestral Houses in the Philippines

Ancestral houses in the philippines

The Philippines has a rich historical and cultural heritage, so it’s no surprise that the country has various ancestral houses. These treasures serve as windows to the nation’s past, offering a glimpse into the lives of its prominent families and the eras they lived in. From grandiose mansions to quaint houses, you must add five ancestral houses in the Philippines to your go-to destinations.

Must-Visit Ancestral Homes in the Philippines

Aside from pristine beaches and lush natural landscapes, the Philippines has diverse ancestral houses that showcase the architectural designs and craftsmanship of the time. Here are notable properties you must consider visiting:

Gala-Rodriguez Ancestral House

If you’ve been to Sariaya, Quezon Province, the intricately designed white house has probably caught your eye. Owned by Dr. Isidro Rodriguez and Doña Gregoria Gala, the Gala-Rodriguez Ancestral House is a national heritage site declared by the National Historical Institute in 2008.

Don Rodriguez had the house built in the early 1930s as a gift to his wife. Designed by Dr. Juan Nakpil, the two-story mansion is Art Deco-inspired with its massive stained glass windows and fan-shaped terrace. Unfortunately, Doña Greogaria succumbed to her illness two days before the family was supposed to move in. However, the family cherished the place and decorated it with the most elegant French provincial furniture. In 1942, the house served as a residence for the Japanese Imperial Army, so the family was only allowed access to the first floor and basement.

Presently, Don Rodriguez’s granddaughter, Glady, preserves and maintains the house. It has multiple bedrooms and a stunning dining hall decorated with exquisite tapestries in vibrant colors. The house is open to the public, and you can book it for events like birthdays, weddings, or other special occasions.

Aurora Filipino Cuisine

If you’re in the mood to explore ancestral houses and don’t mind having a bite to eat, you must visit Aurora Filipino Cuisine in Sta. Cruz, Laguna. Chef Day Salonga converted his family’s ancestral home into a cozy restaurant. It was originally built in the 1940s and survived the Japanese era. Around the 50s-60s, Salonga’s grandmother, Auring, turned the first floor of the building into a beauty parlor. The family kept the property beautifully preserved and it still has its doors, windows, and walls from the 20th century.

Salonga has converted the house into a cozy restaurant and is now a popular dining spot that serves delectable Filipino dishes. They mainly offer authentic Laguna heritage dishes whipped from Grandmother Auring’s recipes but with a modern twist. For instance, their “Minanok” elevates the heart of a banana cooked in burnt coconut cream with plantain fritters for a medley of sweet and savory flavors.

See also: Best Filipino Breakfast Place In Metro Manila

Laperal White House

The Laperal White House is one of the most iconic ancestral houses in the Philippines. But don’t be fooled by its all-white exterior since it’s said to be one of the most haunted houses in Baguio City. Don Roberto Laperal built the house in the 1920s with an American Colonial architectural design. During World War II, the Japanese soldiers overtook the property and transformed it into a garrison where plenty of people were brutally tortured and murdered.

Today, the house’s caretakers often report apparitions coming from the house, especially of a little girl and a woman in white. Business tycoon Lucio Tan currently owns the Laperal White House, and it hosts the Ifugao Bamboo Carving Gallery. The exhibit consists of 40 elaborate bamboo carvings to bring attention to the importance of bamboo for preventing soil erosion and landslides in the Cordilleras. The jump from a well-known haunted house to a bamboo gallery is an unexpected twist, but it makes an interesting adventure if you visit this ancestral house.

See also: Top 10 Baguio Tourist Destinations To Visit

Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House

If you want to get a glimpse of one of the oldest houses in the country, take a tour around the Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House in Cebu. It’s also believed to be the first Chinese house built outside China, as seen in its Filipino, Spanish, and Chinese-influenced architectural design. The house consists of a terracotta roof, coral stone walls, Balayong, and Molave floors.  

Built between 1675 and 1700, the Yap-Sandiego house was originally owned by a wealthy Chinese merchant, Don Juan Yap, and his wife, Doña Maria Florido. It’s passed down to their great-great-grandson, Val Mancao Sandiego, and is open to the public as a museum where it features his family’s antique belongings.

See also: Cebu, Philippines

Vega Ancestral House

The town of Balingasag, Misamis Oriental, is dotted with several ancestral homes, and the Vega Ancestral House is a notable destination because it’s one of the few remaining “Bahay na Bato” in the country. According to the locals, the structure was built around 200 years ago with the sturdy Molave tree. Although its architectural design was common for homes during the 18th to 19th centuries, its wooden sculpted men that appear to hold up the house’s second floor set it apart from other structures. Another interesting fact about this house is that the late Maria Clara Vega Jimenez owns it. She’s the mother of the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Editor, Letty Jimenez Magsanoc, and the late Lourdes Jimenez Carvajal, also known as “Inday Badiday,” a famous talk show host in the 80s.

Closing Thoughts

Ancestral houses in the Philippines serve as a reminder of the vibrant history and cultural heritage of the country. Each house tells a compelling story of the nation’s colonial past and indigenous influences, inspiring us to gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of the Filipino identity.  

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

If you plan on visiting ancestral houses in the Philippines, here are answers to frequently asked questions that can help make your experience more enriching: 

Which is the oldest house in the Philippines?

It’s not official, but it’s believed that the Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House is one of the oldest homes in the Philippines. It was built around 1680, combining Spanish and Chinese architectural design influences for an iconic structure.

What is the difference between an ancestral house and a heritage house?

Ancestral and heritage houses both have historical and cultural significance. Still, an ancestral home is often privately owned by the original owner’s descendants and is often passed down through generations within the family. A heritage house is a property that holds an architectural or historical significance that’s open to the public. It’s also primarily maintained by local governments or heritage organizations.

What is the significance of ancestral houses?

It’s important to preserve ancestral houses because they provide a glimpse into a particular period of the Philippines’ history. They offer insights into the architectural design, culture, and economic conditions of the time the houses were built. In addition, they hold sentimental value to the owners since the properties hold memories and stories of their ancestors.

Related: Best Historic Hotels to Stay in the Philippines

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