Heritage of Boac – Ancestral houses and more…

boac, marinduque, boac heritage, boac ancestral

After walking around the church of Boac, I decided to drop by the Capitol of Marinduque in Boac. I was told that the province had plotted all the ancestral houses in town. The Capitol building, severely damaged during WWII, had been restored after the war by funds coming from America. It’s a great example of American architecture that brings to mind the neoclassical buildings in Manila.

I met up with Efren Penafiel and some of the tourism staff of the province. They were all accommodating and their office, located at the rear of the old capitol building, is modern and clean. They even provided me with free Wi-Fi access. I came to look for the mapping records of all the old houses of Boac. To my disappointment, there was none available—good thing was that teacher and student volunteers, from some years ago, made a project documenting the ancestral houses. While it’s lacking in information, the effort is praiseworthy. There’s nothing more satisfying for a heritage advocate than seeing the children take interest in safeguarding our heritage.

I have seen photo blogs feature the town. I observed a slight difference in how houses were planned and constructed. While they’re considered bahay-na-bato, their location, being an island detached from mainland Luzon, influenced their character and form. Like an animal restrained in an island that naturally evolve to their environment. Just look at the roof shed on top of the sliding windows, supported with wooden sticks. This architectural element is uniquely from the island. Same with their brand of Tagalog. It sounds so different but familiar. Some say that Tagalog here is Old Tagalog. The mayor of Mogpog believes that it is. The center of the old town appears as it was 100 years ago. This is what I appreciate the most about Boac. The people did the work in conserving their heritage. It tells us how proud they are of their past. The Spanish carcel (now a National Museum branch),  the plaza and the old presidencia (municipio) all standing opposite a modern basketball court. I had second thoughts going home the next day because I craved to savor the Boac’s old charm more. The concentration of ancestral houses in this town is fascinating. Boac is an anomaly, the old houses are not only preserved but are still occupied by families, shops and business establishments. In some cases, the silong are rented out to business while the families that owns the house lives upstairs.

Is it their simple way of life? Their isolation, being an island? Or the attitude of the locals towards their ancestral homes? One day, I have to go back and find the answers to these questions.

But there are houses that are in bad shape. Like the case of one of the most historic house in Boac. The NHI marker tags it as Maharlikang Tahanan ni Kapitan Piroco, regrettably it appears to had been abandoned and left to rot. All the people I asked what the house was told me that it was once a school and it was, helping shaped some of the earlier natives of the town. But before this, it was the house of the wealthy community leader. Respected enough that he sat down with an American governor and officers for the benefit of his beloved hometown. Why the house has been neglected, I don’t know. But something must be done to salvage this house. It’s an outstanding bahay-na-bato, the biggest, the grandest and the only one with a generous yard in town. In the capitol, I saw volunteer heritage workers (students from local schools) record the condition of the house. It’s terribly exposed to the elements, portions of its roofing had caved in, with noticeable damage (possibly from the recent typhoon) from years of inattention.

There are markers around town dedicated to individuals (based on NHI’s record for Boac). Like the one for Pilar Hidalgo Lim, wife of war hero and West Point grad Gen. Vicente Lim. She became a president of Centro Escolar and had served presidents in various positions. Another marker is for Salvador del Mundo, a prominent chemist. I could not locate these markers—I should see these and the houses where they were placed next time!

The entire town is a fantastic throwback. And I dream of returning to spend more time and maybe even volunteer mapping the heritage houses. We have to record, not only the current state of the houses, but their history. One of the coolest thing about Boac is that there’s no rush to develop and modernize. They live at their own phase—and I like it.

One the most impressive examples of adaptive reuse of an ancestral house. This is the Emilio Lardizabal house. The entresuelo is a popular restaurant and the second floor is a bar in Calle Mercader.

A fine example of utilizing heritage houses and buildings. We should thank PNB for having the vision to do this here in Boac.

Shops and banks in the silong!

The romantic cells inside was all fired up seeing all these beautiful old houses restored and used!

Not all is as big as the others but still, they’re precious reminders of our past.

– Casa Real: Where Col. Maximo Abad surrendered to Capt. Bandholtz ending the war in Marinduque. Known revolutionaries, Hermenegilod Flores and Remegio Medina died here. Capt. Bandholtz who eventually became a general in WWI, was also instrumental in the capture of Macario Sacay.

– National Museum branch in Boac. It was a school for children established by the religious orders before it became a Carcel, annexed officed of Casa Real, Tribunal, municipio then restored in the 1980’s as a National Museum branch

The provincial capitol was damaged during WWII and just like all capitol buildings built during the American era was repaired shortly after the war with US funding. This one’s a great example of American architecture in the early 1900’s.

The Narvas house. Declared a heritage house by NHI. I’m not familiar with their criteria when it comes to these declarations. We should put up more markers to educate the public and protect the houses too.

The grandest of all houses in all of Boac. Sadly, left out to rot. I wonder if Capitan Piroco’s relatives are still around.

The left portion of Capitan Piroco’s house where tricycles wait for their passengers

Below are some of the houses I saw along the way….

A simple house that’s still used as residence

This one’s a panciteria

Seeing these Antillean houses lined up like this is just awesome.

A pinkish, well maintained old casa. The plants and pots is a nice touch!

Salon in the silong, rooms upstairs!

Hiding behind modernity.

There’s something about capiz windows…

Squarish, cubish like its ancestor the kubo

Some road works. How many of these has this simple house has witnessed over the years?

I just noticed, some of the old houses already have air conditioning. The past few days, the weather was a bit chilly.

You just hope that these people would resist selling out to modernity


8 responses to “Heritage of Boac – Ancestral houses and more…

  • Antonio F . Apostol

    I’m deeply impressed on your documentary Heritage of Boac. I must say that I do miss my hometown even from far away as New York.
    I was born in Isok I April 8 1947. My parents are Dr.Cenon Pernia Apostol from Tigwi, Torrijos. And my mom Victoria Faraon Apostol
    All 6 siblings went to ICA.
    I think of Boac almost everyday
    Thank you for your efforts to preserve our heritage and I am very proud to be a Marinduqeño.

  • Pedrito M.Nepomuceno

    The National Museum (Casa Nina) was the former Division office of the Department of Education until they transferred to their new office in Bgy. Isok opposite the Marinduque National High School. In 1987 the structure was made the BOAC MUNICIPAL MUSEUM AND LIBRARY (please see the National Historical marker). for some reason (I believe political reason) the Boac Library and Museum was removed and the building was turned over to the NATIONAL MUSEUM

    THE CASA REAL was a replica of the old Casa REal.. Recreation of the Casa real was first conceived in 1986 when we were working with the National Historical commission (that was also the time when then Director of the NHC Dr. Eulogio Leano encourage us to organized the BOAC HISTORICAL SOCIETY and we did) on the Battle of Paye as a major event not only in Marinduque but in the entre Philippines (as it was the first victory of the filipinos against the Maericans durng the fil-am war of 1900. Asathe Municipalwanted a new structure for the Municipal building itwasagreedin principles to reconstruct the Casa Real and there was opposition to the idea of rebuilding the structure on the same site as the plaza is so small and the municipality needs a breathing space. There were also constraints on the prioritization of the meager funds we have but it was agreed when our finances will permit to re4construct the Casa real.

  • Anonymous

    The markers of pilar hidalgo lim and salvador del mundo are located in front of boac municipal hall.

  • ruben s. hernando

    very very nice. its like going back in time, where everything was slower, and less stressful. keep up the good work. and i hope to see more.

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