Saturday, January 20, 2018

Casa Villavicencio - Taal, Batangas

For the longest time I’ve been hearing about the old houses in Taal, Batanggas. Having visited Vigan City, it dawned on me that Taal could be another Vigan where century old houses abound thus, on last year's Labor Day I brought the family to Taal.

We stayed in one of the old houses converted into a hotel. Admittedly, we were impressed with our abode since aside from having personal and prompt services from their caretaker the whole structure was obviously dated.

On our second day and while driving around Taal town proper, we noticed that unlike in Vigan where the old houses are concentrated along Calle Crisologo, in Taal they are scattered. The family was a bit disappointed since you have to hike along several streets in order to visit the old houses.

On our way back to our hotel, we noticed a massive old two-storey structure with an “open” sign outside. Curiously, we knocked and welcomed by a young lad. The structure is Casa Villavicencio.

All of us were not aware about the important roles the owners of Casa Villavicencio played in Philippine history. Emilio Aguinaldo even bestowed the title “Grandmother of Revolution” to the matriarch, Gricella Marella Villavicencio. She was motivated to help the revolution because of her undying love to her husband, Eulalio Vilavicencio, who was imprisoned by the Spanish authority.

Letter to Jose Rizal
Many prominent “katipuneros” have visited and stayed in that mansion or casa including Andres Bonifacio. Not only that, a letter addressed to our national hero has been preserved and on display on one of its wooden walls. Almost everything you’ll see inside this house is connected to our history one way or another. Hence, Casa Villavicencio can rival some of famous old houses in the Philippines when it comes to historical past. More so, seeing those old Coca Cola bottles, cooking pots, wall mirrors and other knick-knack reminded me of my childhood since I used to see similar items inside my grandmother’s house in the province. Our knowledgeable tour guide did his best in narrating the different events that transpired inside that house.

Master Bedroom

Hidden entrance to the secret meeting room for 'Katipuneros" underneath the dining area
Antique cupboards, closet, beds, furniture and so on and so forth adorn every nook and corner of the house. A massive dining table loaded with antique cutlery and ceramic plates would make any antique lovers and collectors drool. It was our first time to see those countless antiques concentrated in one place; it was simply an overwhelming experience.

Wow. A working vintage Plymouth
We paid 100 pesos entrance fee which includes local snacks served alfresco in the garden. A video presentation was initially shown so as to introduce to the viewers the role played by the owners of Casa Villavicencio during the revolution against the Spanish authority.

When you set foot in Taal, Batanggas don’t leave without visiting Casa Villavicencio. An untold love story and heroic struggle for freedom awaits you.

Lastly, upon seeing the trailer of the movie "Ang Larawan" shown last MMFF, I told my wife that the house where they shot this film looked like Casa Villavicencio. I was correct.

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