On my last visit to Cebu mid-November, I finally found the time to head downtown and visit two ancestral houses. Unfortunately, the old Jesuit House was closed as it was a Sunday (shouldn’t it be open on a weekend?). The light rain didn’t dampen my plans even if I had no umbrella to keep my shaved head from getting drizzled on. It was now or never.
What I discovered was Cebu’s rich colonial heritage beyond Magellan’s Cross and the Basilica of the Sto. Nino.
These museum-houses were in the typical bahay na bato style of having concrete foundations and wooden upper storeys where the living quarters were.
Beautiful houses deserve beautiful trappings of wealth, power, and prestige such as European glassware and lamps.
I’ve always liked long wooden tables especially antique ones whose surface has been polished smooth by countless hands and elbows leaning on it.. I wonder what stories this table would tell?
An antique harp whose strings must have been caressed by a young lady whose many obligations including having a music education.
And of course, what is a bahay na bato without a collection of santos to show religious fervor and devotion (and perhaps to get to the good side of the prayle)?
Unlike those I’ve seen in Paete, Bulacan and Vigan, these antique statues were all small and seemingly crudely-made which actually made them more interesting to look at. They were wel…errrmm…. cute.. if you can describe santos that.
In the dimly-lit corner, as I held these dusty miniatures in my hands, my thoughts turned back to a century ago as I looked over their features, running my fingers over the uneven woodwork and faded colors. It may be even the chinky eyes, the pointed noses, the half-smile, but each of these lovely santos bore the personal marks of the unknown craftsmen who made them.
A few tourists were arriving as I snapped out of my romantic reverie. They were of the “ooh! aaahh! take my picture here variety. I hastily wound-up my visit and thanked the caretaker. Steeping out on to the pavement, I emerged from the shadows of the past to the fumes of the present.
I visited two houses but it was the Yap-San Diego House that I fully remembered. It’s just a few steps away from the Parian Monment at the parian district of Cebu City.