I just got the shock of my life today.
Mr. Gerardo “Gerry” Alberto, descendant of Jose Alberto and current owner of the Alberto house (Alberto mansion) said he is bringing it down. Citing maintenance cost and its continued deterioration.
If its any consolation, he’s currently negotiating a deal with Acuzar of San Jose Builders to rebuild the house in Bataan. He was introduced to Acuzar by Laya (and an NHI officer). Laya is considered by many as the country’s “culture champ” for his efforts in heritage conservation, from paintings to “bahay na bato”. When he was head of Intramuros Administration, he rehabilitated the plazas, build the replica houses and restored much of Intramuros fortification. He’s now a private citizen and is still active in heritage conservation, I find this truly admirable and inspiring.
But if you’ll ask heritage conservationist, it would be a unanimous vote that restoration should be made in the place where the house was built because their historical significance belongs to the area.
Mr. Alberto was a gracious host, he even toured us around and shared very interesting stories about his family. The question whether to keep the house or demolish it boils down to economics, and he was very honest about his present financial situation and its challenges, being the only person now that runs the place. He made clear that deterioration has made it unsafe and useless, in his word “wala na din akong choice”. He told us that he would want to keep it, but “there’s is no money” and the government according to him, “wala naman maasahan”. the local government I felt should step up to the plate and put a viable program to restore the house that it largely ignored even after the town prospered after WWII (These cabrones even covered the house with their massive campaign tarpaulins!) Binan’s government has wholly deserted its heritage houses and sites, from Rizal’s first school to the old casa’s like the Yapchinchay, now the Albertos, what a damn shame to live in a town run by such ignorant officials!
I’m not expecting heritage programs like the one in Taal for Binan, being realistic – these official’s can’t even manage traffic and crime, how much more conserving its heritage but for them not to push forward a restoration scheme for the Alberto house that sits right in front of their municipio blows my mind.
This is a sad development, imagine the house was built in 1611, and very few Binan folks knows about its history – its pending destruction breaks my heart. but I guess you have to accept that some things are beyond our control. Bidding our host adios (and our last ‘adios’ to Binan’s grandest house) we witnessed a very beautiful rainbow. “Esperanza!” exclaimed by my pal, but is there hope?
We now leave its fate to faith.
Below is English Gov. Bowring’s description of the house and the town during the historic visit in Binan (Chap. IV “La Laguna & Tayabas, pages 41-43):
I’ll be posting the picture I took after I’m done editing them.