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Camiña Balay nga Bato: Heritage, shopping, and much more (Part 2)

Submitted by on March 10, 2012 – 10:41 pm9 Comments


A proud history and prestigious family traditions mark the 1865 Avanceña House, now called Camiña Balay nga Bato at Villa Arevalo, Iloilo City. From afar, one can clearly see how beautifully this house was preserved for almost a century and a half now. A time-capsule in its own right, the house still serves as the dwelling place of the 4th generation of Melocoton-Avanceña clan. Join me in my recent visit in one of Iloilo City’s best preserved heritage homes in this two-part post. (Part 1 here.)

Going back to the Ground Floor



Where were we the last time? Ah yes, we had a taste of the unique tsokolate and surely it’s time for, shopping! To the relief of my companions, shopping resumed! They treated themselves with tsokolateras, antique house decors, hand-woven bags and cocoas. Truly, Lola Rufina’s Heritage Curio Shop is an alcazen (storage) of Panay history and culture. You can take home the whole of Panay if you shop there (is that an exaggeration?). I really fancy those old santos with their “balays” or pedestals, even at old age and already pigmented they still bear the style of a master craftsman.


Going back to the piano at the ground floor, I’m not joking when I said you can have it if you have a million pesos with you. Anyway, we just contented ourselves posing with the piano and pretending like a skilled pianist.


Are old wares your interest? You will definitely find the shop a must-go. Among the displays are antique plates and jars, in different shapes, sizes and designs.



A portrait of Filipino heroes in display.

It was a unique experience but the tour is not yet over.


arevalo garden

In the courtyard, one will surely notice garden’s simple yet religious theme. Numerous figures of saints carved in red sand stones dotted the green scene. Red sandstones or “Igang” are abundant in the southern coasts of Iloilo – it’s the material used in building Miag-ao church. Stone images of saints are also available at Lola Rufina’s Souvenir Shop. A beautiful view of the garden can also be seen from the windows at the kitchen and dining hall.


Ang Balay nga Bato 

Avanceña House

From afar, you will never miss the Spanish time architecture of the house. The house is a true example of the classic balay na bato. Having almost the same age of Molo’s Church of St Anne, this example of Hispano-Filipino house is in good shape and well maintained. Built in 1860 by Fernando Avanceña (uncle of Chief Justice Ramon Avanceña) and his wife Eulalia Abajo, the house originally had batten and board walls, and a bamboo and nipa roof – a typical Filipino bahay kubo.


Due to frequent Moro raids at Villa Arevalo, the family added massive mamposteria or lime stone rubble and plaster walls.


Light and air enter the house through large windows which are guarded by metal grills. The windows are open by sliding wooden panels decorated with latticework and grids and covered with translucent capiz shells.


Twenty four hardwood posts or haligi support the house while the ground floor is a made of stone. The two posts supporting the entrance from the rear are beautifully sculptured with grapevine designs. 



What really caught my attention are the cornice lamp holders seen at the middle of house’s exterior walls. In the early days when electricity was not available, these holders serve as the placement for the lamps to illuminate the surroundings of the house. They’re beautifully sculptured – too bad they don’t have any replica as a souvenir.


The main entrance used to be the door facing the highway but was now closed. Instead visitors enter the compound through a gate at the side.


Avanceña House

Definitely, the Avanceña House or Camiña Balay nga Bato is a remarkable example of ingenuity of the Filipinos when it comes to architecture, design and craftsmanship.

Weaving: A Family Tradition

The family had never forgotten their roots – their textile weaving traditions. Inside the house there are several remaining traditional weaving looms. We’re very fortunate to see one of these looms in action. The family had been in textile business during the Spanish times and at times engaged with many weavers who worked with abaca, piña, cotton and silk combinations making sinamays and other hand-woven textile.

ilonggo weaving



Visit and Have the Camiña Balay nga Bato Experience

Camiña Balay nga Bato is open for visitors. I would advise that you call them ahead of time for reservation since they’re meticulously preparing treats for their visitors (as cooking their famous tsokolate takes time also). You may contact the owners and their staff at:

Camiña Balay nga Bato c. 1865

20 Osmena Street, Villa De Arevalo

Iloilo City, Philippines 5000

(033) 336-3858 / (033) 396-1927 /Fax: (033) 336 5075



Don’t forget to sign at the guest list! Be part of the growing list of the house’s visitors (which includes the ambassadors from US, China and South Africa).

Getting there:

From Iloilo City, you may take jeepneys going to Villa Arevalo (Mohon). You may also take taxis to get there. Prominent landmarks around the area are the Sinamay House and Villa Arevalo Plaza (Plaza Villa).

Camiña Balay nga Bato is located along the Osmeña Street (a segment of the highway going to Oton).

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  • Suzie says:

    Is there an entrance fee to visit the Balay na Bato? Those bayong bags are nice, how much are they selling them?

    • Mark Segador says:

      yes, they have an entrance fee of Php 150 per each person (a minimum of five to be allowed). the entrance fee includes snacks, hot choco, and of course the tour of the house. you also have to book for reservations as they prepare the snacks beforehand (and that takes time).
      the good news is, if you want to shop at Lola Rufina’s, you can enter the souvenir store without any fee.
      hmmm, regarding the handmade bayong bags, I missed how much that one costs.

      • Suzie says:

        Thanks for your quick reply. Too bad we are only 3, will just visit Lola Rufina’s then.

        • Mark Segador says:

          please do. the ground floor is really interesting, it’s full of handmade souvenir items, antiques, and cooking ingredients and utensils (e.g. tsokolatera, vinegars, etc). The garden is also great. i hope they would allow you upstairs even if you’re only three (i’m really wishing here). =)

        • del says:

          we went there in March and there were only three of us.
          they made the reservations for us.
          however, there was another group (5 of them) who were with us on the same day and time.
          just give them a call to be sure about the minimum no. of people.

  • Jose Javelosa says:

    May I know why you named it Camina Balay na Bato when you said it was the house of Avancena’s?

    • Mark Segador says:

      The original house was owned by the Avancenas, over time and after generations that followed, the family name emerged as Melocoton and Camina. Today, the owners use Camina as their surname, hence Camina Balay nga Bato. But they are direct descendants of the original owners.

  • Tonton layson says:

    So nice to see this.my grand mother is from osmena arevalo.Her name is Adelia Melocoton Layson and their old ancestral house (where it used to be)is the now pldt compound or atleast it was the last time i was there.i live in the UK now and i so miss my city.thank you for posting this article.

  • Jett Dumlao says:

    is there a possibility that we can have a photoshoot in this place? ive been looking all over the net for some old historical houses here in iloilo… hoping for your reply

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