Governor Natalio Enriquez Ancestral House This eye-catching and brick-roofed Sariaya landmark near the church, is an Art Deco style house designed by European schooled architect Andres Luna de San Pedro, the son of artist Juan Luna. It was built in 1931 by erstwhile Tayabas Provincial Governor Natalio Enriquez (1941 – 1945) and his wife Susana Gala. A venue for fabulous social gatherings in pre war Sariaya, it hosted the grand reception during the 1938 wedding of their daughter Alicia to Manuel Gala where Philippine Commonwealth First Lady Aurora Aragon Quezon served as principal sponsor. It was declared by the National Historical Institute as a Heritage House on May 14, 2008.

Sariaya’s richest and prominent citizens left behind grand houses for us to celebrate and be proud of. Most were built during the height of its economic progress brought by the copra business. The descendants that preserved the grand old houses must be congratulated for not surrendering to greed. Its architectural and historic importance has drawn many tourist, students and admirers – which is not a surprise at all since you wouldn’t see houses like the ones you’ll find here anywhere else.

Historical markers were recently installed on the houses of the prominent families. I don’t know much about the families of Sariaya but I’m sure their stories is as interesting and valuable as the house they left behind. I’m fascinated at how most of the old structures are preserved. I walked away from the town center, heading towards the bay and saw several bahay na bato that are still stable and occupied. These level of awareness is getting rarer and rarer that I fear one day I’ll wake up being surrounded only by houses made of steel, glasses and plastic.

The best and the brightest builders and planners were employed by the propertied families of Sariaya. Nakpil designed the tisa roofed Rodriguez house while Luna San Pedro, son of Juan Luna, designed Governor Enriquez’s majestic abode. These two are giants in the Filipino architectural world. The presence of their work here gives us an idea of the level of sophistication and elegance of old Sariaya.

The town hall of Sariaya is an Art Deco, perhaps the only one of its kind. Art Deco is one of the most influential design movements of the 20th Century.

The municipio looked strange, colorful and familiar. It could very well be the only town hall built following the Art Deco style. I’m not really a fan of this particular design but it’s imperative that we retain them for structures and buildings represent the different strata of our history.

Just imagine how life was way back in those days when the town held dances, fiestas and celebrations in the town center (fronting the municipio) – they even had this dance ball called “comprasas” during Valentine’s Day. It’s their version of match making. It’s a fascinating event that even men from as far as Manila would go to Sariaya’s Rizal park, putting on their best dance steps. The competition must’ve been really tough. After all, future sweethearts is at stake!

The church of Sariaya is of elegant baroque style. Recently it has gone through major restoration. The original was said to have been built close to the shore but was later moved because of frequent pirate attacks. A strategy that was also employed in the Visayan Catholic communities as response to the slave raiders. A popular devotion in this beautiful white church is the Sto. Cristo, a replica of the crucifix in Burgos, Spain. Sto. Cristo de Burgos is the centerpiece of the church and rightly so – for it help shaped the religious culture of this most beautiful and wonderful town of Sariaya.

Don Catalino Rodriguez Ancestral House The third NHI-declared Heritage House in Sariaya, it was renovated sometime in the year 1922 and owned by Don Catalino Rodriguez, Sariaya’s town Presidente (Mayor during the American occupation period) from 1908-1909. This fenceless, almost block long residence with its main entrance facing south along Calle Daliz is likewise bounded by Calle Rizal on the west and Quezon Avenue (formerly Calle Talavera) on the east. Among its features are colorful stained glass windows, a big veranda facing east, a straight grand flight of wooden stairs, a beautiful high ceiling with intricately-designed lattices, a spacious grand living room, European and American fixtures in the bathroom and the kitchen and beautiful wall paintings.

Julianito Rodriguez House This brick-roofed, thick-walled, pink-colored, three storey house once owned by Mr. Julianito Rodriguez and his wife Rosie Gala is a comprehensive renovation of a circa 1920s residence of erstwhile Tayabas Provincial Governor Maximo Rodriguez that burned in 1944. He and wife Martinita Gala were the principal sponsors of Manuel Luis Quezon and wife Aurora Aragon during their wedding in Hong Kong, and their house was where President Quezon used to stay whenever he visited Sariaya in the old days.

Enriquez – Gala House This big house is owned by Atty. Librado Enriquez and his wife Josefina Gala which was built to replace a much older residence that burned in the Japanese-started great fire of 1944. Among its features are an arched roofed – entrance topped by a curved veranda, a silo-like outside wall with small windows where a curving flight of stairs inside leads to the second floor of the house as well as three cathedral-type arched side doors with Corinthian style column embellishments that open to the garden topped by another veranda upstairs held by the curving crowns of ionic columns.

One of the historical landmarks of the town is the St. Francis of Assisi Church, which was built in 1748 (Find out more about this in the narratives of the historical marker photo). The highway slices thru the town proper and the church is not easy to miss on the left side. There are times of the day though that traffic is rerouted in front of the church. When you are facing Lucena-bound, you may be directed to take a side road to the right. In that case, find your way back to the highway after a few corners and you may enter the churchyard’s gate when you are facing Manila-bound. The church houses the Sto. Cristo de Burgos image which is more popular than the acknowledged patron saint St. Francis of Assisi, as the former was believed to be miraculous and visited by pilgrims from far away places. If you are the kind who do not believe in miracles, then try the native delicacies peddled near the gate at unbelievably low prices. The church’s historical marker states that the earthquakes and floods of 1743 destroyed the church and caused the transfer to the present site. However, an article by Bambi L. Harper (Sense & Sensibility, Phil Daily Inquirer 08/13/02) quoting a letter from Eric Dedace (of Sariaya Quadri-Centennial Fdtn) narrates that “…folk legend handed over for more than 259 years now had it that after the 1743 earthquake, the pillaging Moros (native Muslimscame and once again burned the church and the town and the people fled to Mount Banahaw’s slopes. Returning… the survivors found the Cristo de Burgos still intact amid the charred ruins, which they regarded as a miracle… it was wrapped in white cloth and carried by able-bodied men northwards to higher ground. After resting for a while, the men folk tried to lift the icon to resume their journey but it became too heavy to carry so the people took it as a sign that the new church should be built at that very spot and so Sariaya came to being amidst another ‘miracle’ which they say continues to this day. The prior part of the same letter mentions about the lake in Mt. Banahaw that collapsed due to the earthquake, causing the flood and the destruction of the church and the town. These accounts could be consolidated if we would say that after the earthquake with accompanying flood, pirates attacked and burned the church (which survived the earthquake and flood, otherwise there is nothing to burn). This prompted the townsfolk to build a new church at the present site, in effect transferring the town. Hence, the former location is now called Lumangbayan (Oldtown).

Remnants of a Spanish speaking populace

Viva Sr. Sto. Cristo

Simple yet elegant.

Even the simplest, is an affirmation of a sophisticated taste and lifestyle.

An old structure, now a school.

Pink house.

In the midst of modern progress-the old struggles to coexist with the new.

An old house converted into a gospel house.

A typical bahay na bato model that could be found around the islands.


* Photo captions for the first five photo by Eric J Dedace of SFCF

** All photos by Arnaldo


18 responses to “Sariaya

  • Rollie Querijero

    Would you know which church in Hong Kong MLQ and Aurora held the wedding?

  • JP Sanglap

    There’s another historical place in Sariaya that should also be recognized. The ruins of it’s first church. Located near the seminary, there are no historical landmarks; just a sign indicating what it was. Though only a few base stones were left in this sight, the historic significance should not be ignored.

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  • Orly

    Thank you for writing this. I miss Sariaya very much.

  • Anonymous

    can you post the historical marker of Rodriquez house

  • ben

    I just saw the house that is simple and yet sophisticated in design in the house photos, I wonder who owns this house.

  • Asha Coaley

    What a lovely town. How far is this from Mla?

  • De AnDA

    you’re welcome. thanks for dropping by.

  • Rikuju

    We should keep the tradition Bahay Na Bato only without that spanish garbage.

  • jhe

    tsk.. i have a research about the sto. Cristo de Burgos do you have any books about the mahal na senor? hope to recieve a reply in my e-mail soon.. this is my email tnx! i’ll wait for your response..

  • De AnDA

    @ TOF – Back in the days when progress has reached even the farthest corner of the archipelago, we had towns like this, rich, cultured and advanced. Years of neglect and mismanagement of our agriculture has brought us to where we are. What a terrible thing. Our government has drained the life from these precious towns and left it damned.

    • Bogs

      I can’t agree with you more. For some reason we have a tendency to fix things that aren’t broken like church renovations and replaced beautiful, well-proportioned structures and with great aesthetics with box like, ugly looking nondescript structures.

      It seems that we are aesthetically challenged as a people.

      Progress is equated with a mall, fast food chains and cementing almost everything.

  • Traveler on Foot

    Sariaya is unforgettable. Although we went there unplanned we had a great time walking around the plaza and admiring the grand houses.

  • De AnDA

    @ Bryan – Thanks man. This place is definitely a tourism destination. There is no tourism program in place. I hope the government realize how much of an historical and cultural asset these houses are. Thanks to the families and owners for preserving the houses. Mabuhay, arya Sariaya!

    • Eric J. Dedace

      Good evening! The Sariaya Tourism Council is one of the most active in Quezon province. Actually, aside from the traditional May 15th San Isidro Fiesta now known as the Agawan Festival and the Sariaya Town Fiesta in honor of Sariaya’s “Mahal na Senyor” the Santo Cristo de Burgos, the STC has instituted two other major attractions for Sariaya namely the Belen Festival ( a contest of life-size Belens crafted using indigenous materials found in Sariaya ) and the now emerging Lenten tradition of the Santo Kristo: Isang Senakulo, a street play held in selected venues around town every Holy Wednesday.

      Since December 2006, the inter disciplinary Sariaya Community Empowerment Research team ( UP Colleges of Architecture, Home Economics, Human Kinetics and Music, and the UP Asian Institue of Tourism ) has been actively engaged in a landmark and pioneering UP Centennial funded study of Sariaya’s rich socio-cultural, historical, religious heritage in order to help the STC institute an effective grassroots culture – based tourism program patterned after the tourism council’s geographical endowment approach to promoting Sariaya ( Kabundukan – Kapatagan – Karagatan ), the community being the only Mount Banahaw town with a sea coast in both Laguna and Quezon provinces. This community-based approach to tourism promotion has spawned a fledgling “Home Stay” program as a way of accommodating the student tourists that have come to Sariaya at the heels of a UP AIT Special T 197 Class that is being taught everything that the interdisciplinary UP Research Team has collated ( validated locally via a series of colloquiums ) . The first semester students came during the town fiesta celebrations and were able to have a close contact feel of what they had been taught about, with the help of young local guides who acted as their companions from September 13-14. A second class will be coming over this semester for yet another of that one -of-a-kind up close experience on Sariayahin heritage. The STC also has tie ups with environmentally-oriented people like those of the Waypoints website, and others.

      Incidentally, my works on local heritage research through first hand interviews with the town’s elderly, some of whom have gone off with the Lord these past years, have been very fruitful self discoveries about life in Old Sariaya which I try to recapture in my unpublished articles that I write, share and disseminate to my Kababayans here and abroad through e mail, for a try at enhancing and preserving what is left of it through such charming and very informative “Kuwentong Bayan” tapestry of stories, for the ultimate purpose of informing them, and thus hopefully creating love and pride of everything that Sariaya stands for. I likewise impart them to these young guides so they get the feel of how it is to be a true blue Sariayahin, and which they can incorporate in their fledgling work of enhancing further what the T-197 students have learned in Class.

      As for me, i serve as a local guide and a resource person in instances where there are occasional print and broadcast media features about Sariaya, as well as academic tours, notably of architecture, photography and history students, or perhaps even to people who come here every now and then just to have a whiff of Sariaya’s air from the fertile and scenic slopes of Mount or aBanah aw dose of our interesting Kuwentong Bayan which I believe help enhance the attraction to our beautiful ancestral houses (even the ruins of some), old church. Municipio, the two park monuments, the taste of our mouth watering delicacies, baked products and sweets, and the inherent lilt and vocabulary of our characteristic Tagalog which oftentimes varies from the Bulacan-Manila– based Tagalog of everyday Philippine life.

      Lastly, the present day Sariayahin is a product of of a way of life greatly enhanced and affected by the transfer of location four times from the shores of Tayabas Bay to the slopes of Mount Banahaw between 1599 and 1743, as well as the geography, the environment and the people whom they came in contact with and through time have intermarried with the locals and enriched this characteristic way of life even further.

      Should you wish to know more and deeply about Sariaya, you can surf Waypoints Sariaya and . three websites of which I am a contributor in my own little way. You can also contact me through my e mail add if you wish to read some of my articles on Sariaya and the Sariayahins.


      Eric J. Dedace
      Local Heritage Researcher
      Secretary STC

      • De AnDA

        @ Sir Eric -I appreciate the resource you provided, without it my experience would not have been as unique. My commentary was in no way aimed at bringing down a town with a rich culture and history but rather an observation based on experience – our government’s passive and negative attitude towards our heritage sites and landmarks. Who wouldn’t admire the accomplishments of old Sariaya? I’ve enjoyed it so much. Well, there were traces of missing structures and buildings but the great news is that you guys has built a positive momentum towards preserving the grandest of all house in Tayabas – and we have people like you to thank for it.

  • the showroom manager

    another great post, arnaldo! keep ’em coming. i appreciate the information that you share.


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