Sunday, May 8, 2011

Taal Heritage Town: Agoncillo and Apacible Ancestral Homes

We also visited the other ancestral homes in Taal, Batangas.  These were the homes of Gregorio Agoncillo, Leon Apacible and Marcella Agoncillo.

The heritage house of Gregorio Agoncillo is in the middle of a busy intersection.  It is easy to see because among the houses in the area, it's the only one that's painted white.  A bronze statue of his uncle, Felipe Agoncillo stand in the front.  This uncle was instrumental in the signing of the Treaty of Paris which ended the Spanish-American War.


Unfortunately, there was no one there to show us around the house on our visit, so we were pretty much left on our own to explore the house.

At the entrance of the house are life size busts of members of the family.  One of the ladies was named Maria A.  Aguinaldo and it turned out that she was the wife of the first President of the Republic, Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo.



The house contains a lot of furniture and assortment of knick knacks that the owner has collected through the years.  I was drawn to a particular big wardrobe in one of the rooms of the house.  It was made of solid wood and looked more like a free standing trunk.  It has a huge mirror door which is quite ideal when choosing which clothes to wear for the day.




Like many homes of that era, there was a special nook for an altar where the family would pray together at night.  The Agoncillo Heritage house has several prayer areas with antique santos to boot.



The next house we visited belonged to another illustrious Batangueno, Leon Apacible.  Apacible was a lawyer, revolutionary and a delegate to the Malolos Congress.


The Apacible House/Museum was donated by his descendants to the Filipino government.  It contains relics of the country's rich historic past.  Upon entering the house, you will see a montage of pictures taken during the Spanish and American colonial times.

Tiles made from Italian marble covered the floor of the ground floor.  The stairs leading to the main living area was made of solid wood and was very impressed with the balustre.


Like most of the houses we've been to in Taal, the Apacible house was filled with antique furniture, paintings and other stuff.  The house, according to our guide, was a favorite vacation area for many of our illustrious historical figures.  Among the items that are truly worth visiting are handwritten letters from Juan Luna.



There are two curious artifacta in the house.  These are the giant shell and a picture above it of two babies sleeping inside a giant shell.  According to our guide, the babies in the picture were the twin daughters of Leon Apacible and yes, the shell they were sleeping in was the same one below it.  One of the girls died as a baby but the remaining one lived up to 93 years old and was the one who donated the house to the government.



The last stop of our trip in Taal was the house of another important Filipino, Marcela Agoncillo.  She and her daughter along with the niece of our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, made the first Philippine flag while in exile in Hong Kong in 1897.  For this, she was called the "Mother of the Philippine Flag".



The ground floor of the house is like a history book.  There are panels depicting the evolution of the Philippine flag.  There are also panels tracing the lineage of Marcela Agoncillo.  That's where I found out that she's married to Felipe Agoncillo, the uncle of the owner of the Agoncillo heritage house.



At the foot of the stairs, one can see a depiction of the making of the Philippine flag.  The scene shows the three women working on the flag but they all looked sad.


Unlike the other houses, the Agoncillo house has an entresuelo.  During those times, guests are usually ushered in the entresuelo first where they are "filtered".  Only those that the owners deemed important and worthy of their time were allowed to go up the main living quarters.

On top of the stairs, the guests are first asked to stay at the antesala and opposite this place is a window from the dining room where the owner could see the visitor.


The main sala of the house contains the old furniture of the family.  Portraits of the family members also adorn the walls,  Like the Apacible house, the descendants of Agoncillo decided to donate their ancestral home to the government.


There's also a prayer area with antique icons.


There's a garden outside of the house where one can find a monument or statue of Marcela Agoncillo holding the Philippine flag.


Our visit was a really rewarding experience.  It was like getting a peek of how these illustrious people lived.  I'm glad that these house are made available to the public.


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