Paradores del Castillo Hotel, Taal, Batangas: A home’s rebirth as a boutique hotel

Paradores del Castillo Hotel, Taal, Batangas: A home’s rebirth as a boutique hotel

By Ria Benedicto Villavicencio (The Philippine Star) |

MANILA, Philippines – How does one write about a passion, a difficult but rewarding journey, when one is standing on the threshold of the gleaming white structure of Paradores del Castillo in the town of Taal, Batangas? Remembering the home’s history suffuses the effort that went into its restoration, so that present results are better appreciated.

This old house is now a grand boutique hotel. Upon entry, you realize that you are in an antique setting, but with added modern conveniences and updated accent colors. An airy, welcoming atmosphere offers a refreshing change from the dark Victorian period design details commonly found in most turn of the century homes.

Originally owned and built by Hermenegildo “Didong” del Castillo and his wife Leonor Sanchez in the early 1900s, design elements of the 1930s and 1950s were apparent, due to renovations by succeeding heirs and tenants. The couple shared this home with their four children: Vicente, Gloria, Blanca and Antonio. Eventually, with each generation’s passing and several tenants’ use, the structure had fallen into a jumble of clashing design elements, disrepair and abandonment.

In August 2009, the del Castillo house was acquired by my husband, Ernie Fajardo Villavicencio, from his maternal first cousins, most of whom were living abroad, the heirs of Antonio and Corazon del Castillo. Corazon is our beloved Ninang Chong, younger sister of Ernie’s mother, Titang Fajardo.

In 1995, we committed to restoring and maintaining another old structure, Casa Villavicencio, the ancestral home of Ernie’s great grandparents Eulalio and Gliceria Villavicencio. Both were patrons of the Philippine Revolution during the Spanish and American periods. The Casa V house is now a tourist destination in this quaint Southern Luzon town.

We proceeded to clean up and use the del Castillo structure for five years as a storage facility for old bricks, antique wood, doors, capiz windows, carvings, wrought iron retasos, furniture and lights collected through the years, for use in other home restoration projects. It was in late 2013 that Ernie decided to undertake the restoration. Aside from the debris that was left there, it was a huge challenge to get the same original materials for aesthetic uniformity.

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As a couple, we have gone through this arduous task of restoring old spaces many times in the past. Paradores del Castillo was our fifth restoration project in Taal. Our team of engineers, architects, craftsmen and construction crew were made to understand that they were on board for the long haul, no matter how many design revisions were done. In repairing and maintaining bahay-na-bato ancestral homes like this one, the work was painstaking and continuous. As restorers, we use modern solutions while respecting the bones of the original structure, balancing it with budget limits.

On the construction crew’s end, it is a test of understanding the value of what was initially perceived as junk and creating something beautiful out of it. It is always a learning process.

First peek behind the scenes of GMA-7’s new docudrama ‘Katipunan’

First peek behind the scenes of GMA-7’s new docudrama ‘Katipunan’



Philippine history is the stuff of drama. Television viewers will see it unfold starting October 19 when GMA-7 begins airing its first historical mini-series “Katipunan.”

The eight-part docudrama will follow the arc of the revolutionary movement, from its founding by Andres Bonifacio to its initial battlefield successes to the capture of Emilio Aguinaldo by the Americans. But nestled in the sweep of history are the personal dramas of the protagonists, like the love story of Bonifacio and his devoted wife Gregoria de Jesus.

Sid Lucero leads the cast as Bonifacio, while Glaiza de Castro plays the hero’s wife Gregoria. Also part of the ensemble are Benjamin Alves, Dominic Roco, and Mercedes Cabral, and veteran actors Roi Vinzon and Soliman Cruz.

Many of the scenes were recreated and shot in the historic town of Taal in Batangas, which serves as set for Tondo in the 1890s.



















“Katipunan” recreates late 19th century Manila in the streets of Taal. This stretch of Calle Jose Diokno was transformed into a busy side street where the indios, ilustrados and the guardia civil gather. The ancestral houses in Taal, preserved and protected to this day, provided an ideal backdrop for the show.


Portrayal of the Spanish guards was made as close to real as possible, from the acting as demonstrated by Asst. Director Maita Lupac down to the Mauser rifle replicas and detailed costumes.

In this sequence, a group of guardia civil passes through the busy side street where people sell and exchange goods, including poultry and live animals.


Wardrobe designer Rex D was commissioned to create 500 costumes for “Katipunan.” He said history books gave him inspiration for creating the overall look for the show.


Actors portraying indios — a term used by the Spanish to describe Filipino natives. Wardrobe designer Rex D says the color palette they chose was earth colors to represent the historical tone and treatment of the show.


The ornate women’s costumes as viewed from the back. These actors were wearing at least three layers of clothing in the sweltering heat.


Part of “Katipunan’s” wardrobe are these panuelos, used in the colonial times as a scarf to go along with women’s camisa. The panuelo is also used with the baro’t saya, the national costume for women in the Philippines.


Sid Lucero plays Andres Bonifacio, founder of the Katipunan. In this scene, Bonifacio enjoys an afternoon meal in the karihan when he is smitten by the beautiful Gregoria de Jesus as she passes by.


Gregoria de Jesus, or Oriang, is portrayed by Glaiza de Castro (left), here with Jill Palencia (right) who plays Juanita, Oriang’s companion. Katipunan will tell the story of the Andres-Oriang romance, and how the revolution affected their relationship.


A member of the crew measures the camera angle from actor Benjamin Alves as Glaiza de Castro and Jill Palencia take their spots. A special set of HD cameras was used in the shoot.


Women of Taal become the women of “Katipunan.” Taal locals were cast to play extras in the docudrama.


Spanish-born actor Kuya Manzano rehearses his lines with director King Marc Baco and other members of the crew. Manzano, who plays a teniente, suggests that some of his lines be spoken in his native tongue Spanish — even doing the translation himself!


Katipunan’s executive director Jayson Bernard Santos (left) and program manager Nowell Cuanang (right) supervise the shoot. Santos and Cuanang are both also producers at “Reel Time,” GMA News TV’s Peabody Award-winning documentary program. — Irvin Cortez, with Pia Faustino/CM/HS, GMA News

“Katipunan” premiers on October 19, 2013, 10:15 PM on GMA-7. Visit the official Facebook page at