Taal’s 19th-century house: History made interesting

Taal’s 19th-century house: History made interesting

Built by the family that helped finance the Philippine Revolution, it survives to this day and helps draw tourists to this heritage town in Batangas


1:22 am | Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

THE CAIDA (foyer after the grand staircase) at Casa Villavicencio has the tumba-tumba, or the Philippine rocking chair, which is bigger than the American rocking chair, and capilla, or long bench, a staple.

CUTWORK transom with gold leaf welcomes guests in Casa Villavicencio. Bedroom has silla Americana (rocking chair) and classic four-poster bed. NELSON MATAWARAN

In the early 1870s, the wedding of Don Eulalio Villavicencio and his niece Gliceria Marella was likened to the merger of two big corporations. Both hailed from Taal’s wealthiest families, with businesses in shipping and sugar.

In the 19th century, Batangas sugar was considered one of the best in the country. At the end of the milling season, boats came loaded with money in sacks.

People would bring the sacks to the house and lay them out on a mat. It would take them two weeks to count the money and roll them up. Whoever came to the house was asked to help out.

“The rich didn’t have to work,” says Martin Tinio, co-author of the coffee-table book “Philippine Ancestral Houses.” “There were fiestas every month in every town. The well-to-do attended nine-day novenas, went to picnics, danced, rested. That was the life of the haciendero.”

Don Eulalio’s family lived in a house that was built in the 1850s.

Financing the Revolution

TROMPE L’OEIL simulates marble cornices. Chairs have carvings of Philippine fruits.PHOTOS BY NELSON MATAWARAN

For his young bride, he built a house next door which was connected to his parents’ house by a bridgeway. Built in 1872, the new house was called Casa Regalo de Boda or the Wedding Gift House—which has now been restored by Tinio.

The Villavicencios are mentioned in history books for having helped finance the Philippine Revolution. Don Eulalio even went to Hong Kong to give José Rizal P18,000 for his propaganda literature.

He came back with banned publications and was later charged with sedition. He fell ill at Fort Santiago where he was imprisoned.

A famous account says the Spaniards offered to release Don Eulalio in exchange for information about the Katipunan. His wife, Doña Gliceria, it is said, refused, saying that she carried his surname and didn’t want to betray him and his cause.

After two years, Don Eulalio was released. But his condition worsened since he had contracted tuberculosis. He died at home after three months.

His death motivated Doña Gliceria to support the Katipunan. Not only did she give monetary aid, she also used the older

Villavicencio house as meeting place of Andres Bonifacio and Gen. Miguel Malvar. She donated a ship which transported soldiers, armament and food between Batangas and Manila.

During the proclamation of Philippine Independence on June 12, 1898, Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo bestowed on her the title “Matriarch of the Revolutionary Forces.”

She died in 1929 at age 77.

THE KITCHEN of the first Villavicencio home with dapugan, or open stove, and the stairwell leading to the stables.

Five lots

The Wedding Gift House, says Tinio, “is the only house I know which is composed of five lots—one garden for one house, and another garden for the other house. These houses were linked by a bridge. The garden had a fountain with giant clamshells.”

Wedding Gift House living room with trompe l’oeil of marble and fleur-de-lis patterns.

Tinio notes that in that era in the Philippines, the Wedding Gift House was the only one with window grills on the second floor that had a bloated silhouette called “rehas na buntis.”  The balconies were also shaped like a squash.

A sign of wealth was the variety of colors and patterns. The facade stood out for its yellow ochre and indigo tones. When one looked at the stenciled patterns dominating the interiors, one could only imagine the enormous amount of paint used. But that didn’t matter to the wealthy owners.

The ground floor, or entresuelo, featured patterned tiles from Spain. When the house was renovated six years ago, the tiles were reproduced by Mariwasa.

The tindalo staircase led to the caida or antesala, the transition space to the living room. It was called caida, which meant “to drop,” because when women climbed the stairs, they had to hold up their skirts and dropped them only upon reaching the caida.

Floral patterns

IN THE living room of Wedding Gift House, the curlicues on the wall are inspired by the baptistry in a Pakil Church. It has ‘Louis XV’ furniture, the sillion (armchair with curved back), American chairs and chandelier from India.

In renovating the house, Tinio derived the curlicues and floral patterns for the stenciled walls from a pattern book published in the 1870s. In some parts of the house, the patterns were inspired by an old church and convent.

The caida now has Art Nouveau furniture with carved faces by sculptor and decorator Emilio Alvero. It is also decked with sillas Americanas, or American chairs.

At the turn of the 20th century, these chairs were assembled in the same way the Ikea chair is put together today. The sillas Americanas were considered the Monobloc chairs of their time, given their ubiquitous presence, says Tinio.

For the comedor, or formal dining room, Tinio had the narra chairs drawn from the turn-of-the-20th-century designs of sculptor Isabelo Tampinco. “The carvings of cashews, bananas and guavas on the crests were appropriate for this room,” he says.

In the old days, mirrors were imported from Vienna, which held the monopoly of the glass industry.

WEDDING Gift House bedroom with diamond patterns on the wall and stenciled flowers from a Pakil building. The patterns were inspired by a convent bedroom in Pakil.


Today, the repros of Viennese mirrors are eye-stoppers and make the expansive living room feel more intimate.


These big homes had a dispensa, or pantry. “If you were rich, you didn’t shop. When the shipment arrived, you would get the first choice before the goods were displayed in the shops. There was a selection of wines, chorizos, turrones, walnuts, jamon. These foods were locked up in the dispensa,” says Tinio.

My City, My SM, My Crafts: Buli, balisong, and Burdang Taal in Batangas

My City, My SM, My Crafts: Buli, balisong, and Burdang Taal in Batangas

(The Philippine Star) | Updated August 25, 2013 – 12:00am

Source: http://www.philstar.com/sunday-life/2013/08/25/1130241/my-city-my-sm-my-crafts-buli-balisong-and-burdang-taal-batangas

Batangas City Mayor Eddie Dimacuha and wife  Vilma are warmly welcomed to the “My City, My SM, My Crafts” launch by SM VP for marketing Millie Dizon (right) and SM City Batangas mall manager Rosalinda Gabriel.

MANILA, Philippines – Batangueños are called Super Tagalogs, a term coined by historian Maria Kalaw Katigbak to describe their rather over-the-top way of doing things. In Philippine mythology, the first man and woman, Malakas and Maganda, emerged from bamboo. But Batangueños went one step further — they have a very prosperous bamboo-based industry with houses and furniture. They can even cook food in bamboo.

Just as they are passionate about their history and business, Batangueños are also passionate about their arts and crafts.

From buli weaving in Isla Verde to balisong making and intricate embroidery in Taal to handmade paper crafts and sugarcane leaf décor in Tuy to handmade decorative candles in Calatagan to religious images in Santa Teresita, Batangas has so much to offer and be proud of.

This is what mallgoers discovered when “My City, My SM, My Crafts” recently made its third stop at SM City Batangas. A joint project of SM, DTI’s Bureau of Domestic Trade, and the Philippine STAR with support from CITEM and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, it is a celebration of traditional arts and modern Philippine design in the cities where SM has malls.

Batangas City Mayor Eddie Dimacuha and his wife former Mayor Vilma Dimacuha graced the event together with Nora Montenegro, wife of Taal Mayor Michael Montenegro, and DTI Batangas provincial director Ruel Gonzales. The Department of Tourism Batangas provincial head Emily Katigbak and Batangas City head Eduardo Borbon, as well as Batangas Province Cultural and Historical Commission executive director and My City, My SM honoree Atty. Antonio Pastor were also present.

SM vice president for marketing Millie Dizon and SM City Batangas mall manager Lyn Gabriel gave guests a warm welcome. Everyone enjoyed the program, which included a video presentation featuring the crafts of Batangas with Batangas City executive secretary to the Mayor Atty. Reginald Victor A. Dimacuha as guide. Multi-awarded writer, poet and novelist Domingo Landicho read his own poem Batangueño Ala Eh, Ala Hoy.

A fashion show, directed by Fashion Designers Association of the Philippines president Lito Perez, featured exquisite Burdang Taal gowns and barongs.

One of the program highlights was the awarding of the winner of the Best Buli Fan contest with workshop participants in competition. Melanie Cachola’s butterfly fan got the judges’ nod for the top prize, for which she received P5,000 worth of gift certificates.

Judges included world-renowned filmmaker Brillante Mendoza, Taal tourism advocate Dindo Montenegro, visual artist Michael Semana, and DTI Batangas’ Marissa Argente.

But the “My City, My SM, My Crafts” centerpiece was clearly the Craft Market inspired by the traditional Bahay na Bato in Luzon. This beautifully designed showcase was a treasure trove of the best of the best crafts in the province, and was an instant hit among SM City Batangas shoppers.

The Craft Market included buli banig, baskets, and bags woven by the women of Isla Verde, expertly handcrafted balisong from Taal; elegant Burdang Taal pieces, religious images from Santa Teresita, handmade decorative candles from Calatagan, and handmade paper crafts and sugarcane leaf décor from Tuy.

Craft demonstrations by skilled balisong makers and traditional burdang Taal embroiderers likewise delighted mallgoers.

“My City, My SM, My Crafts” is a takeoff from the previous “My City, My SM” campaign, which promotes tourism, and “My City, My SM, My Cuisine,” which highlights the culinary specialties in cities were SM has malls. A celebration of traditional arts and modern Philippine design, it aims to showcase the best of the best Philippine crafts in each host city, providing livelihood opportunities, as well as a platform for cultural exchange.

The Batangas launch is the third in the “My City, My SM, My Crafts” road show after SM City Santa Rosa and SM City Lucena. Next stop will be in SM City Davao.

Fancy wearing an Orlina? ‘ArtWearAble’ showcases artworks you can actually put on

By REN AGUILAJuly 19, 2013 11:24am (GMA News Online)

For visual artists who make pieces meant to be worn, the challenge is to make work that is as much functional as it is beautiful, and attractive. The results of such a challenge are on display at a new show that just opened at the Yuchengco Museum.

Entitled “ArtWearAble,” the show runs until September 7 this year. This is just the first of a series of shows that would highlight artists’ response to this challenge.

According to a curatorial statement prepared by the gallery, “visual artists explore the seamless unity of functionality and embellishment, of storytelling and shock appeal, of revival and retrieval, and of design and aesthetics.” The exhibit brings together artists and designers both established and relatively new, those who are more well known for their wearable work and those more obscure.

Apart from jeweler Hans Brumann and furniture designer Ann Pamintuan, the lineup comprises notables in the local art scene. National Artist Arturo Luz and Impy Pilapil are among the more established figures.

One of these notables is Ramon Orlina, who told GMA News Online, “I did [jewelry] before, and I had this work exhibited in 2008.” He exhibited his jewelry twice, but admits that as these were sold at auction, he was unable to trace the eventual buyers.For this exhibition, Orlina made five new pieces, all of which are made with lead crystal. He said that he sees jewelry as an inevitable extension of his visual arts practice. Motioning to an art piece of his on display, he said, “That’s glass. I’ve been working on this for more than 30 years… If you look at my work, you could say that these [are] big jewelry [pieces].”Orlina noted that the jewelry would form part of rotating exhibitions that would take place at a museum he plans to open in Tagaytay in September of this year.Younger generation

While the fascination with wearable art may be tangential to the more established folk, the younger generation represented here have made wearable art a key part of their art practice.

Michelline Syjuco, a scion of a family known for their experimental art and poetry, is one such person, having done several collections of wearable and usable art. On display that night were some of her past work from previous exhibits, but she showed off a new collection of clutch bags which were made with recycled pine wood, old stainless steel parts and watch components.

“It’s definitely something I would wear; it’s very edgy,” she said of her work, “and I like the idea that everything is recycled.”

She has been doing what she calls “sculptural jewelry” since 2008; this is her first foray into bags. She even worked on the accessories she and her siblings wore when they performed as the band Faust. “I like that [wearable art] is out of the ordinary,” she said, “and you can’t bump into somebody else who has the same thing.”

Of all the visual artists represented in this exhibition, 2012 CCP Thirteen Artists awardee Leeroy New will readily come to mind when one thinks of contemporary wearable art. His wearable art pieces have been part of glossy magazine photo shoots and fashion shows, and most notably in a Lady Gaga video. He has done sets and costumes for his friends and fellow Philippine High School for the Arts alumni at the Sipat Lawin Ensemble.

“For me, it’s more of an extension of my sculptural practice than me getting into jewelry,” Leeroy said. He has one new piece at this exhibition, and two from his past work.

One of these was shown as part of the Queer Manila group show at Manila Contemporary last year, and the author found these to be one of the more memorable works on show.

He said that it is only logical for him to venture into wearable art. “After doing installations [and working] with spaces,” he said, “I would [work with] the people who inhabit them.”

As the boundaries between art and design continue to blur, with the attendant dichotomy between art and artisanship, such exhibitions should be able to provoke people into thinking about these things, and hopefully inspire other artists to consider where this will fit in their body of work.

Perhaps the sentiment behind this show was summarized by Syjuco, who said, “For me, breaking the boundaries of ‘what is jewelry’ and ‘what is art’ is what keeps me interested.” —KG, GMA News

The “Artwearable” exhibit runs until September 7, 2013. Yuchengco Museum is at the G/F RCBC Plaza, corner Ayala and Sen. Gil J. Puyat Avenues, Makati City. Museum hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mondays to Saturdays. For more information, contact the Yuchengco Museum at (632) 889-1234 or visit their website at www.yuchengcomuseum.org.

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Beautifying and lighting up landmarks

Beautifying and lighting up landmarks


7:34 pm | Saturday, August 3rd, 2013

MIA Protacio at the magnificent Taal basilica. Photo by Nini Hernandez

During the ’90s, the Chinese dragon roared, a communist turned capitalist, and invaded the world’s markets. Many small, export-oriented firms suffered losses, and some folded up.

Among those who felt the dragon’s hot breath, copying this and that design, was Misoromo in Parañaque City, managed by entrepreneur Mia E. Protacio and her mother Soccoro Eusebio-Protacio. They were doing well, turning out angels which sold briskly, especially in preparation for the Christmas trade here and abroad.

Then, to their consternation, they  saw many products, cheaper at that, just like their carefully crafted angels, all over the leading department stores. Sales plummeted, Misoromo closed shop, and the Protacios had to raise money just to give their employees separation pay.

Sick at heart, Mia began to question why this had happened. After all, they treated their people well. She was “a good Christian” and all that. Her parents Benjamin and Soccoro comforted her, told her this was all part of the maturity process, and she must start all over again.

And so Mia did, with a vengeance. She turned to decorative lights as a business and, she laughs, “made a deal with the devil,” meaning she was now importing products from China, and  using these lights to enhance visual displays of leading boutiques and department stores.

She created a new firm M-Pro Ventures (www.m-proventures.com) and undertook a more ambitious field—architectural lighting to beautify and enhance major establishments and landmarks. She prepared well for this challenge, taking lighting courses in Florence, Italy, and meeting abroad a manufacturer of special lighting fixtures who set up a factory in Metro Manila.

This the renewed, fired-up entrepreneur uses to customize special lights for churches and other places of worship, museums, hotels, homes, office buildings and special projects like monuments.

Her projects have included the BenCab Museum near Baguio City, the RCBC Plaza in Makati City, the luxurious Amanpulo Resort in Palawan, and the magnificent Taal Basilica in Taal, Batangas (and never mind the modern bell tower—constructed, it is said, by the Department of Tourism—which looks like a biberon, a baby-feeding bottle, according to distinguished glass sculptor Ramon Orlina, who is from Taal).

Mia has worked with and gives credit to top architects like Ed Ledesma of Locsin Architecture, Onglao, Mañosa, Calma and Fr. Alex Bautista, an architect of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines in charge of church restoration and construction.

Fr. Bautista will be the rector of the St. Josemaria Escriva Parish in Gerona, Tarlac a current project of M-Pro Ventures.

Later this year, the lighting supplier will study advanced lighting in London to keep up with latest trends and technology, especially in church lighting.

“Lighting churches is quite difficult because it takes a lot of humility in doing so,” Mia observes. “It is all about respect for architecture. You are lighting up a place of worship as if there is no light.”

Of all her projects, the San Martin de Tours Basilica in Taal (structure completed in 1865) was the most challenging.

“Lighting is highly visual where there are no hard and fast rules,” she says. “We did not follow lighting places from the consultant. We did a lot of demo and mock-up to finally achieve the desired effect of the rector, Msgr. Fred Madlangbayan, who was educated in Rome and will never settle for anything that’s not at par with the churches in Europe.”

Mia concludes: “It feels good to see a nicely  built home with proper lights, like looking at a pretty face with the proper makeup. But it feels great to light up old churches where everybody can fully appreciate architecture, which means culture and history.”