I understand we Filipinos are not so big on architecture. Which is a sad thing since we have a wealth of houses and buildings that do not just speak of architectural artistry but showcase our history as well. We have very interesting structures of ages past in Manila that we take for granted and leave to rot. Iloilo City in the Visayas is also a goldmine of architectural history that does not merit much of our wandering attention. In the island of Cebu, heritage houses are found in the city of Carcar, an hour’s drive from Cebu City. Better known for its lechon and chicharon, a leisurely walk around Carcar will lead you to appreciating ancestral houses that date back to the 19th century.
Four of Carcar’s structures have been declared heritage houses by the National Historical Institute, earning it the moniker “Heritage City of Cebu.” Most of them are found along the main road but to start your tour of the city, ride a tricycle from the public market and ask the driver to take you to Sta. Catalina where quaint architectural finds dot the street. It is also here where you will find Ang Bahay na Tisa, so named for the limestone blocks or tisa that were used for its construction.
Built in 1859, Ang Bahay na Tisa served as the ancestral house of the Sarmientos and Osmenas of Cebu. Unfortunately, the house was closed when we visited but a thorough look from its windows shows the antique pieces of furniture that appear to be very well-preserved.
From Sta Catalina, walk until you get to the city’s old plaza. Huge Spanish houses, now painted in dainty colors, mushroom along the main road. One can see the hard work that went with restoring these, although many of the structures also now house commercial establishments. Not to be missed for its cool mint exterior is the Mercado Mansion, once owned by Don Mariano Mercado, a mayor of Carcar.
Not far from Mercado Mansion is this blue-painted structure that’s easy on the eyes. The intricate details on its roof tell of a forgotten era. No, not those electrical wiring.
From the main road, walk until you get to the St. Catherine Church. Aside from the church, which has a strong Roman-Moorish design, several old edifices such as the Paaralang Elelmentarya ng Upland and the Ang Balay na Dako / Ang Dakong Balay are also found in the area.
The most interesting architectural piece though is the Don Florencio Noel house, locally referred to as the Ang Dakong Balay (The Big House). Believed to have been built some 150 years ago, the house, which is made up mostly of good wood and stone, is now known as the Carcar Museum.
The house was undergoing restoration when we visited but the works being done around the house could not hide the opulence that once characterized the place.
The veranda’s ceiling is reminiscent of summer houses in the countryside many years back.
That cross detail on the terrace railing and the machuca tiles add a laidback feel to the house. Surely, these details are not easy to find these days.
This capiz-styled window lends a dramatic feel to Ang Dakong Balay.
Next time you find your self in Cebu, head to the South Bus Terminal and ride one of the jeepneys, buses, or mini-vans that ply the Cebu-Oslob route and ask the driver to drop you off Carcar. For PhP60, you get transported back in time. Appreciate those heritage houses. Now. I kid you not, it’s juanderkid! 😀
Love and light, everyone. Go, wanderlust! 🙂
- All photos taken with Canon 550d, with a malfunctioning kit lens 😀