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Camiña Balay Nga Bato: A Tour on Ilonggo Heritage House (Part 1)

Submitted by on March 7, 2012 – 8:22 pm19 Comments

Camiña Balay na Bato

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.

Hallway-1

Lola Rufina's Heritage Curio Shop

It was around 9 AM in the morning when we arrived at the Avanceña House (as I already booked our visit days before). The staff is very warm and welcoming, and immediately led us into the ground floor of the house which now serves as an antique and souvenir shop (Lola Rufina’s Heritage Curio Shop), and as their offices. Available in the shop are old santos, saints carved in red sandstones, hablon and sinamay, paintings, antique wares, and of course tsokolateras. (You can even buy an old Steinway & Sons Piano for a million peso).

shop

But isn't it too early to shop?

So I ushered my companions from shopping to the tour. =)

Hallway-2

Walking on the hallway leading to the grand stair case is like journeying back to the mid-19th Century when Ilonggo illustrados are principal drivers in economy through their textile weaving businesses. No doubt, an old loom is displayed right in front of the escalera.

downstairs

One of our companions took notice of some of the lamps in the house. She said that back in the old days, only the rich can accommodate those so-called “Petromax” lamps while the masa (common people) has to contend with the old fashioned gasera. Difference of the two? Petromax designs use bulbs that were powered by denatured alcohol, while the gasera has flame fueled by gas. She jested that when they woke up in the morning, their nostrils are full soot because of the gasera‘s smoke.

lamp

The house was very quiet, but my brain is buzzing on how much history this house has and its contribution in our society, especially its owners. A bust of Chief Justice Ramon Avanceña is prominently displayed along with other ancestral artifacts.

Chief Justice Ramon Avanceña

Saludes

A certification of the family history of the Saludes Clan

owners

Escalera

escalera

escalera

Turning right at the hallway is the escalera, or the grand staircase. It is steeply inclined – just like a ladder in a typical bahay kubo. But this simple design is surrounded by meticulous carved hardwood and capiz shell windows. The entrance leading to the second floor is guarded by a wooden door equipped with an indigenous locking mechanism.

central foyer

View of the central foyer from the dining hall

Upon reaching the second floor, we were greeted with a central foyer having complete access to all parts of the house. In front facing the escalera is the oratorio or place of prayer, to the left is the grand sala, and at the right is the dining hall.

Just like in early times, a wooden hat stand is still there to secure the visitor’s hats or even swords. Lucky enough, some of the old hats, caps, and swords are still in displays. Let see how’ll I’ll look wearing this old soldier metal hat:

segador

Oratorio

oratorio-altar

I never saw a house with an altar as huge as this before. This oratorio struck me of its grandness and antiquity. The pedestal is high enough to kiss the ceiling. Displayed are very old santos (seems like they’re mannequins with movable torsos and can be dressed).

santos

Santo

saint

jesus-and-joseph

Poster

Kneelers

Kneelers are also available for those who want to pray.

The Grand Sala

villa arevalo grand sala

After marveling at the oratorio, we were shown to the grand sala. “Grand” is a perfect adjective for this as the main living room is more than ten meters long and is decorated with antique furniture. Certainly, guests are awed by the stately tables and chairs, old jars and cabinets. Looking up, I was impressed by the intricate metal-pressed ceiling.

metal-pressed-ceiling

Wooden-sofa

old jar

One of the very old earth jars in display

iloilo furniture

Very tempting to relax on this wooden recliner (note in front of the recliner is a huge flat screen TV)

One of my favorites is this cabinet hand-painted with Iloilo’s old churches (note at the lower left – Oton’s old church):

Cabinet

Kitchen and Dining

dining

Ah, so much history and heritage, antiquities and religious figures made my stomach scream “growl!”. And fortunately, it’s time for snacks!

chocolate

We were led to the dining area where the staff already prepared our Camiña tsokolate experience. They served our hot cocoa in small porcelain cups. One must try dipping a kinihad into the tsokolate – you’ll surely enjoy the mixed bitter and sweet Chocó with the crispy toasted bread!

Of course, the snack will never be complete without a trip to the kitchen!

Kitchen

To be continued…

 

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

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19 Comments »

  • Alfred Adrian Chavez says:

    Mark, I think lunch at “Tabu-an” is also a great feature! There are two “tabu-ans”. One in Central Market (at the center) and another one in Concepcion Chalet in Jaro. Thanks also for sharing Camina Balay nga Bato. Really nice. I haven’t been there but I’m looking forward this Monday to really visit the place before I fly back to work. I just hope it’s open (huhuhu). I wish to taste the Ilonggo tsokolate and kinihad but above all, I want to take pride as well in the richness of our culture.

    • Mark Segador says:

      yeah, the site really lacks in featuring Ilonggo delicacies. Tabu-an would definitely be a good start for me. thanks! will definitely feature Tabu-an soon.

      yes, please visit Camina Balay nga Bato. try to contact them through the details i posted. the staff is very accommodating. =)

  • Avancena-Melocoton Heirs says:

    Thank you very kindly for posting The Avancena Ancestral House.
    Congratulations, warmest heartfelt and sincere appreciation to the Camina family who wonderfully preserved the sanctity and glorious past of The Avancena-Melocoton Family!
    Historically, three great men once lived in this great house: Don Fernando, Don Lucas and Don Anselmo.
    Lucas who was the father of Ramon Avancena, Chief Justice of Supreme Court.
    Anselmo who notably became the affectionate priest of the poor and sick.
    Fernando who lovingly married Eulalia Abaja, and owned this great house in 1865. They have several children, and interestingly, a genteel daughter named Rufina bequeathed the house.
    Dona Rufina Avancena married the illustrious Hon. Crispino Melocoton and
    were blessed with seven children:
    1) Adelina (married to Andres de los Santos)
    2) Antonio (m. – Josefina Guevara)
    3) Flor (m. – Ben Camina)
    4) Leonor (m. – Ricardo Abanilla)
    5) Francisco (m. – Ofelia Ledesma)
    6) Rodolfo (m. – Violeta Legislador)
    7) Violeta (m. – Rodolfo Alcantara)
    For those who wish to know more of The Avancena-Melocoton Heritage, please contact the surviving birthright family members: Violeta Alcantara, Leonor Abanilla, and also, Marilyn de los Santos – Jann (New Jersey), Gerard Camina, Joel Abanilla and Guillermo Alcantara.
    THANK YOU…

  • Avancena-Melocoton Heirs says:

    Hello Mark,

    What say You?

    Fondly,
    Dr. Fernando “Boy” Abanilla

    Dr. Fernando Abanilla, fondly call me Dr. Boy “Boy

    • Avancena-Melocoton Heirs says:

      Mark, pardon me for the above computer glitch, “fondly call me Dr. Boy Boy”, He,he,he.
      THANKS

    • Mark Segador says:

      Hi Dr. Boy! It’s an honor for me for you to drop by at Iloilo I LOVE! and share these valuable information regarding the Avancena-Melocoton clan’s history and heritage. I also would like to congratulate your family for the magnificent preservation of the Camina Balay nga Bato. Your example should be followed by other owners of heritage houses here in Iloilo City. I wish I could learn more about your family’s illustrious heritage.
      More power to your Sir and to your family!

      Mark Segador

  • Joel M. Abanilla says:

    There is so much more in the Balay na Bato(history wise) that is not included in the write up. Examples of those are the ballroom of the house was used as the social meeting place of the high ranking generals and other offucers of the US Army when they landed in Panay during the 2nd World war to counter the Japanese forces. The Avancena house has a piano with candelabra and the offucers used to sing and dance around the ballroom. After the war, the ceremonial citation and awarding of General Peralta was also held in the house. The Ballroom has also four big Lithographs depicting biblical stodries that are encased in gold leaf frame. It was given as a weddding gift by Chief Justice Ramon Avancena to his cousin Rufina Avancena. It is believed that there are only very few copies of these lithographs in the world. Sone were slight soiled by water when they were hidden underground during the war.

    • Nestor Melocoton says:

      My father used to talk about Oton and Arevalo but I had never had a chance to visit Iloilo. His family I guess were the Melocotons that moved and settled in New Washington, Capiz now Aklan. It’s good to know more about my family lineage. Thanks.

  • Cynthia says:

    Amazing family heritage ! Congratulations to Avancena – Melocoton Clan….and to the brothers, sisters, relatives of the family !…

  • Avancena-Melocoton Heirs says:

    Avancena-Melocoton Surviving Birthright Heirs – the fabric of this beautiful Heritage Tapestry:

    1) Mrs. Adelina Melocoton de los Santos (Manila)
    2) Mrs. Flor Melocoton-Camina
    3) Mrs. Leonor Melocoton-Abanilla
    4) Mrs. Violeta Melocoton-Alcantara

    5) Marilyn de los Santos-Jann (New Jersey)
    6) Engr. Aimee de los Santos-Cumin (Paris)
    7) Engr. Gilda de los Santos-Norman (Amsterdam)
    8) Dr. Dan de los Santos (Manila)
    9) Fine Arts Edith de los Santos-de Guzman (Toronto)
    10) Dr. Antoinette Melocoton-Tio (California)
    11) Dr. Josephine Melocoton-Angelinas
    12) Edna Melocoton-Ecevedo (California)
    13) Gerard Camina
    14) Raymond Camina (Manila)
    15) Cynthia Camina-Quintana (Manila)
    16) Dr. Joel Abanilla (Manila)
    17) Rufina “Penny” Abanilla-Deblois (Toronto)
    18) Cecil Abanilla-Gison
    19) Glenda Abanilla-Valencia
    20) Dr. Fernando “Boy” Abanilla (Florida)
    21) Carmela Abanilla-Quintos
    22) Jose Abanilla (New York)
    23) Laurence Abanilla (New Jersey)
    24) Pearl Marie Abanilla-Lapian (New York)
    25) Henry Melocoton
    26) Albert Melocoton (California)
    26) Rufina Melocoton – (Saudi)
    27) Pedro Alcantara (Illinois)
    28) Atty. Guillermo “Boy” Alcantara
    29) Jaki Alcantara Penalosa

    For those names inadvertently not mentioned above, my sincere apologies.

    Heritage Photos available at Punta Villa Resort’s Cafe Rufina.

    Mark, thank you so much!

  • Avancena-Melocoton Heirs says:

    Avancena-Melocoton Surviving Birthright Heirs – the fabric of this beautiful Heritage Tapestry:

    1) Mrs. Adelina Melocoton de los Santos (Manila)
    2) Mrs. Flor Melocoton-Camina
    3) Mrs. Leonor Melocoton-Abanilla
    4) Mrs. Violeta Melocoton-Alcantara

    5) Marilyn de los Santos-Jann (New Jersey)
    6) Engr. Aimee de los Santos-Cumin (Paris)
    7) Engr. Gilda de los Santos-Norman (Amsterdam)
    8) Dr. Dan de los Santos (Manila)
    9) Fine Arts Edith de los Santos-de Guzman (Toronto)
    10) Dr. Antoinette Melocoton-Tio (California)
    11) Dr. Josephine Melocoton-Angelinas
    12) Edna Melocoton-Ecevedo (California)
    13) Dir. Gerard Camina
    14) Raymond Camina (Manila)
    15) Cynthia Camina-Quintana (Manila)
    16) Dr. Joel Abanilla (Manila)
    17) Rufina “Penny” Abanilla-Deblois (Toronto)
    18) Cecil Abanilla-Gison
    19) Glenda Abanilla-Valencia
    20) Dr. Fernando “Boy” Abanilla (Florida)
    21) Carmela Abanilla-Quintos
    22) Jose Abanilla (New York)
    23) Laurence Abanilla (New Jersey)
    24) Pearl Marie Abanilla-Lapian (New York)
    25) Henry Melocoton
    26) Albert Melocoton (California)
    26) Rufina Melocoton – (Saudi)
    27) Pedro Alcantara (Illinois)
    28) Atty. Guillermo “Boy” Alcantara
    29) Couturier Jaki Alcantara Penalosa

    For those names inadvertently not mentioned above, my sincere apologies.

    Heritage Photos available at Punta Villa Resort’s Cafe Rufina.

    Mark, thank you so much!

  • Avancena-Melocoton Heirs says:

    Hello Mark,

    I posted two articles lately. Please consider the last article, its corrected and final.

    THANKS!

    • marithes says:

      hello po..

      im marithes from davao, my friend and i will be in iloilo 2 weeks from now, just like mam reyna tan-francisco, heritage house & churches are but two of my greatest passions.

      i am really excited to visit the Camiña Balay during our trip there but i was saddened by the fact that only a minimun of 5 is allowed :(

      hoping that you will allow us, even if we’re only two..pleaseee..

      looking forward..

      thanks a lot! :)

  • Reyna Tan-Francisco says:

    My husband and I were refused entry into the house when we dropped by for a visit last September 13. We learned about their hot chocolate experience from the Tourism Office in Iloilo City earlier that morning and sought out the Balay nga Bato after lunch. We were told that the chocolate experience is good for a group of 5. We were offering to pay for 5 even if there were only two of us because we really wanted to try the experience and see the house (heritage house and churches are but two of my greatest passions). The staff refused and there was no convincing them. They told us preparing the hot chocolate takes hours and they needed to be told in advance. We wanted to jsut have a look around but they didn’t budge. I hope this comment reaches the Avancena-Melocoton heirs.

    • Joel M. Abanilla says:

      Hi Reyna Tan-Francisco!
      I opened the Balay nga Bato post and read your comments. My cousins Mr.Gerard Camina and his wife Luth now owns the house and they are the ones usually entertaining visitors to this old house. For security reasons they don’t just let anybody come in unless prior appoinment is made. I believe they were not around or might have been out-of-town when you dropped by. The house staff can not bring- in nor entertain visitors so kaya you were refused entry. Sayang, many interesting things to see inside sana.

      Dr. Joel M. Abanilla(New Manila, Quezon City)

      • Reyna Tan-Francisco says:

        Hi Dr. Abanilla,
        Sorry I totally forgot about this comment which I made here sometime ago. Anyway, we understand that the refusal was made for security reasons. Maybe the PTA office in the Iloilo Capitol can be advised about the need for prior appointments when visiting Balay nga Bato?
        The office is otherwise well-informed of the must-see sites and must- do stuff (plus the must-eats too) in Iloilo. My husband and I just followed their suggestions last September when we were there and we were able to maximize our visit.
        You were right about the interesting stuff which can be seen in there (I was craning my neck in the doorway, I would totally have enjoyed it, no doubt) and I would have had a grand time going around the place. Thank you for your reply.
        Best,
        Atty. Reyna Tan-Francisco (Supreme Court Manila)

  • marithes says:

    hi mark!

    open po bah sila pag sunday?

    ang dami pala magagandang lugar pasyalan sa iloilo, too bad
    we only have 1 day city tour..

    on the other hand, it only means we have more reasons to go back
    and explore ilo-ilo.. 😉

    • Reyna Tan-Francisco says:

      Hi Marithes,
      Did you enjoy your Iloilo visit? Too bad I wasn’t able to read the reactions to my comment here which I posted last year or I could have posted things to see, do and eat in the city. Anyway, I hope you had a great time exploring Iloilo if only for a day! If you’re an old house/ancient church freak like me, Iloilo is heaven! The city also has a safe transport system too, very commuter-friendly. One of the few cities in the country where you can totally rely on the public transportation system.
      Reyna

  • methushiela c. bendaño says:

    I have been to Ilo-ilo just recently. So lucky for us that we were allowed to enter the house without an advance appointment. It was really a very very informative fabulous and heart-warming experience. Just climbing up the stairs reminded me of the old house of my great grandparents which unfortunately was burned down. I salute to the avanceña-meloton family for preserving the house and the furnitures. One of my co.panions daughter even commented that this house is already part of their history subject.

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