Latest Stories

House-hunting in Balamban


Arare late Spanish-period nipa house complete with period furniture. An equally rare large double-roofed house set amidst lush greenery. A rare 1890s Charles Parker kerosene wall lamp and a porcelain tipped clothes hook. An extremely rare marble-top roundtable with a massive calabasa post and clawed feet. An extremely rare set of passports issued by the Chinese Consul General in Manila. The coral stone walls of Balamban Church seeing daylight for the first time since perhaps the 1930s. These are but few of the many wonders that I personally saw with my own eyes while visiting Balamban town yesterday.

I went there as part of the preparations for the Cebu Provincial Heritage Congress in October, doing the rounds of some towns and cities of Cebu to prepare the local tourism and heritage councils to update cultural maps and heritage inventories in time for the upcoming gathering of heritage advocates.

Yesterday brought me to Balamban where Mayor Ace Binghay met my team graciously and municipal councilor Dave Caramihan, the man in charge of tourism and heritage in the council, agreed to call for a barangay-level cultural mapping next week. This came as the local government itself has been busy conducting a land use survey in all the barangays which involves identifying both movable and intangible heritage resources.

Just last week Mayor Socrates Fernandez had also warmly welcomed participants from the 22 barangays of Talisay City in their latest round of barangay-level cultural mapping under the guidance of the very active city planning and development officer, engineer Christine Homez.

After the brief courtesy call at the Balamban Municipal Hall, we were given a wonderful tour of old Balamban through its extant ancestral houses by Ceres Meoldina Lozano, the town’s tourism officer. First on the agenda was the Villarosa House, the late Spanish period nipa roofed abode mentioned earlier. Make no mistake, this is no small, ordinary nipa hut. It had a sala, two bedrooms with a small connecting side-door, and a kitchen. It is the house shown often to tourists and visitors coming to Balamban because it is just a block or two from the municipal hall. With wide-plank tugas and bayong floors as well as narra plank walls replete with pre-war photographs, the house is proof that Balamban can boast of a heritage structure amid its drive to modernity.

It was on this house that I espied the extremely rare marble-top roundtable, the  wall lamp and the porcelain-tipped clothes hook or hanger. Oh, I must mention the breadpan paddle, carved with Spanish dedications—a remnant, I was told by hosue owner Roel Villarosa, of their Chinese forebears who once owned a bakery somewhere in town.

A few kilometers north of the town center, Ceres brought us to three more houses, two of them owned by local scions of the Pilapil clan of Liloan. One was a large gable-roofed two story wooden house, complete with calado air vents at the eaves and colorful Sampaguita glass panes all throughout the second floor windows. Alas, the house was now devoid of contents as these were brought to Liloan but the house near it, still complete, was a wonder to behold.

My description here will never do justice to this beautifully magnificent Pilapil house. Let me just start by saying I have never seen anything like it, standing amid a grassy lawn with no fence to mar the view from the National Highway, save for four buli trees. I was immediately reminded of the Malay chieftain’s house uprooted I think in Keddah, Malaysia and brought to a park in Kuala Lumpur to save it from total destruction.

But this wooden L-shaped house has clearly survived the elements all on its own at the very large plot of land on which it has stood for perhaps nearly a century already. Its dark patina all throughout—I think due in part to the kind of wood used or the solignum wood preservative that may have been applied on it—reminds one of the long houses of Pacific Islanders.

The third house was where I saw, framed and hanging on one wall, four Imperial Chinese passports issued by the Chinese consul general in Manila and stamped “For Province” in red together with all the extremely large chop marks of the consul. These were issued to Uy Ching (later, Dionisio Uy) and what appears to be his siblings sometime in 1899 and 1900.

Dionisio married a local lass surnamed Concepcion whose children then took on the name. Their photos were all on one wall as Violeta Uy Concepcion-Hinto graciously showed us around what was clearly a late Spanish-period trading house, now sunk low as the national highway has gone ever higher. She had to resort to blocking off sections of the ground floor to prevent rainwater from seeping in during downpours. But the house is intact, its architectural integrity proudly preserved.

We went back to Balamban proper after this brief tour and Ceres still had a few more houses to show us but we were pressed for time, so we had only a cursory glance at the ancestral house of Mayor Binghay.

I had to proceed to Toledo City to look at the grand Toledo City Museum being prepared under the guidance of Vice Mayor Daydee Zambo. The scheduled opening is the charter day of Toledo City in January 2013. The building, now painted white, has the looks of a little Malacañan Palace and I am as excited as all Toledanos are to see the museum finally open.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Balamban , Heritage Sites

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. Opinions split on Napoles turning state witness
  3. Delfin Lee: Blame Pag-Ibig, not me
  4. Plunder complaint filed vs PNP chief, firearms office head over license delivery deal
  5. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  6. San Juan cops fail to arrest Cedric Lee
  7. More ‘Yolanda’ bodies found
  8. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  9. Lawyer: Napoles ‘will tell all’
  10. Boy ‘sexually assaulted’ at Indonesia international school
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  3. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  4. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  5. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  6. Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  7. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  8. Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  9. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  10. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  8. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  9. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
  10. Ex-PBA player Bryan Gahol dies in road mishap


  • Napoles tags over 100 officials in pork scam – Lacson
  • Vitangcol to sue Czech envoy
  • Senator’s kickback from pork bigger than those of Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – Lacson
  • 43 out of 414 Etihad passengers yet to be found, tested for MERS-CoV – Palace
  • Sandigan junks Marcos family claim to Paoay property
  • Sports

  • Rain or Shine holds off Meralco, forces Game 3
  • Power Pinays yield to Japan in Asian Women’s Club volleyball
  • Caguioa blasts ‘no heart, soft’ Ginebra on Twitter
  • San Mig Coffee grinds out win over Alaska to force decider
  • UP nips St. Benilde; Adamson blasts RTU in Filoil women’s caging
  • Lifestyle

  • Entering the monkhood a rite of passage
  • Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  • Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  • Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  • Life lessons I want to teach my son
  • Entertainment

  • Bollywood Oscars, film stars come to Florida
  • Ex-Fox exec denies allegations in sex abuse suit
  • Kris Aquino backtracks, says Herbert Bautista and her are ‘best friends’
  • Summer preview: Chris Pratt enters a new ‘Galaxy’
  • Bon Jovi helps open low-income housing in US
  • Business

  • SM to rebuild Tacloban hospital
  • PSEi slips after 4-day rally
  • Toyota sells 2.58 million vehicles, outselling GM
  • McDonald’s 1Q profit slips as US sales decline
  • SEC approves SM’s P15B retail bond offer
  • Technology

  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Bam Aquino becomes Master Splinter’s son after Wiki hack
  • Mark Caguioa lambasts Ginebra teammates on Twitter
  • Opinion

  • One-dimensional diplomacy: A cost-benefit analysis of Manila’s security deal with Washington
  • No ordinary illness
  • Reforest mountains with fire trees and their kind
  • Day of the Earth
  • When will Chinese firm deliver new coaches?
  • Global Nation

  • 19 Ukrainians, Russians, Filipinas rescued in bar raid
  • Filipinos coming home from Mideast must obtain MERS clearance – DOH
  • US Secret Service in Manila ahead of Obama visit
  • Palace thanks Estrada for successful HK mission
  • Hong Kong accepts PH apology; sanctions also lifted
  • Marketplace