Tag Archives: Alberto House

Soon to Rise: Alberto House of Biñan?

I saw a link (Facebook) earlier of plans to acquire land in Biñan to reconstruct the historic Alberto mansion.

This most likely would be a total reconstruction since most parts of the house has been transplanted in Bataan. If you haven’t been to Las Casas I suggest you see the Alberto house there. They recreated it in its original dimensions.

But what’s the use of reconstructing the Alberto mansion?

They should have thought of this when the owner was looking for help. Even when he decided to sell the house’s materials, they should have jumped into the chance of acquiring it. There was virtually no interest in this bahay-na-bata not until social media and national TV highlighted what Biñan was about to lose.

According to an Facebook post the city council passed an ordinance to acquire “parcel of land consisting of 1,197 square meters, more or less…located in Plaza Rizal, Brgy. Poblacion, City of Biñan” This would place the reconstruction within the vicinity of its original location. I am not sure if they’re considering the actual area where it once stood. All of these for sure costs more now for sure. Hopefully the city council gets a good deal.

Back in ’08 with me is Pepe Alas. This staircase (or parts of it) is now in Las Casa. A scene from the blockbuster Heneral Luna movie features it. Arnisson Ortega,author of “Neolibiralizing Spaces in the Philippines”, alleges that the site was leased to Starbucks. If only they considered “reusing” the house then, the establishment or any shop would have benefited from having leased a space that’s considered among the most historically important and oldest house in the country!

The Alberto house is arguably the most “historically” important extant bahay-na-bato in Laguna before its demolition. The Rizal’s in Calamba is a complete reconstruction publicly funded during Pres. Quirino’s time. According to the US Secretary of Interior Standards is the “process of depicting, by means of new construction, the form, features, and detailing of a non-surviving site, landscape, building, structure, or object for the purpose of replicating its appearance at a specific period of time and in its historic location”.

For sentimental reasons I guess a reconstruction serves a purpose. But the way I see it, a waste of tax payers money. Instead of appropriating money to reconstruct the Alberto house why not spend it in rehabilitating existing bahay-na-bato in old Biñan? If owners don’t want it, then perhaps spending money in education and promoting the importance if these historical houses is just as good.

The Alberto house holds the record of being the most blogged about in this site. I simply fell in love with it the moment I first saw it. Along with fellow blogger Pepe Alas, I met the present owner twice—and the dead owners, once. True story, read it here!

I predict that bahay-na-batos would be extinct in half a century, with the exception of those being cared for and protected by local governments and loving descendants, most would be demolished and the land beneath it sold. An example of this is what’s happening now in Manila, in the old quarter of San Nicolas. Remember many of these houses stands in prime areas now. These are top of the line real estate we’re talking about here.

Filipinos don’t seem to have a sense of obligation to look after heritage. A visit to Bataan’s Las Casas’s resort proves this. I mean, who are these people giving up their ancestral houses? Selling them like scrap metal? There’s an old house there that was almost entirely procured from a junk shop!

A few years ago, I joined a group of Filipino expats in Chicago for a baptismal party. They rented a place just outside Chicago. We drove half an hour, maybe more, we had difficulties locating the house. Turns out that it was a beautifully restored century old log cabin located in a park. It brought to mind books I read about the old America. I can imagine the original owners living off the land.

My point is that they did all that for a humble log cabin house. In Binañ’s case, many didn’t even bat an eye for that poor centuries old house while it rotted and eventually taken down.

Is heritage conservation a priority only to affluent nations because they have money to spare?

I hope not because if this is the case, then ours, what’s left of it, would not be around much longer.


The Alberto House of Bagac, Formerly of Biñan

There she is, the Alberto Mansion, now in her new home, 150 kms north of Manila, Bagac!

When I heard that the Alberto House was rebuilt in a coastal resort in Bagac a few years ago I knew I had to go and see it. They say it’s a “replica” but I immediately recognized some parts of the house. How much of the house came from the original Biñan house must be in the low percentile; Gerry Acuzar stop acquiring parts from the Spanish era mansion after protests from the local government and some NGO’s in Biñan.

Gerry Alberto, the last owner, decided to donate (some claims he sold it) the house to Acuzar after typhoon “Ondoy” smashed parts of the roof and wall; water sip in damaging the house’s interior. I know this because I visited the house after the storm has passed and spoke with the owner. He knew it was time to give it up before the entire house collapses.

The politicians of Biñan who hugged the lime light when the news about the transfer was all over the place are silent now. While what remains of the house in Biñan are rotting under the elements.

I am against transplanting heritage houses but we should use it when everything fails. In Biñan’s case, the local and national government failed to salvage the house until the owner decided to dismantle it before it caves in. It was not in good shape even before that terrible typhoon. It was crumbling for years and no one came with a plan to rescue it!

A councilor commented on this site that his efforts to get the local government to act was “overtaken” by elections. They were too busy with politics as usual.

The Alberto House is gone and it ain’t coming back. Biñan’s energy is better spent looking after their other heritage sites in the city.

From the looks of it, Acuzar no longer needs the invaluable scraps from Biñan. Perhaps, now, the city of Biñan can reconstruct the Alberto mansion somewhere in town.

Early this year I visited an aunt’s property in Biñan, near the Carmona boundary, I was surprised to see the city’s vast open lands. You don’t get to see this when you’re in the crowded downtown.

If Las Casas de Acuzar recreated an Alberto House in Bataan, why not within the prosperous city where there’s still plenty of open space?

I believe there are government officials there that genuinely cares about the city’s heritage but their voices were sadly never heard. The only way they can correct this wrong is to recreate the Alberto mansion and use it to educate Biñenses.

The Alberto House in Bagac was oddly familiar. This bahay-na-bato stands as the one that I visited the most (and blogged about too). It was a twilight-zonish moment to know that it stood for hundreds of years in Biñan but is now in Bagac. But seeing it felt like reconnecting with a friend you have not seen for awhile.

It was the first house that I entered in the Las Casas. It’s located near the bridge going to the Sanctuario de San Jose. The portion that was rented out to moviehaus operators in Biñan is there, now an Italian restaurant. This is the only part of the original house that I have not seen before. At least here in Bagac the Alberto House is complete, it’s clean; I walked in every room and was satisfied to see how this “replica” turned out.

So many local tourist was impressed by the house. I overheard teenagers talking about how wealthy Rizal’s grandparents must have been. “Even wealthy people now don’t build houses like this,” one of them said.

Well, the Filipinos from that epoch built houses to showcase their religiosity, culture and identity.

Rich Filipinos now just build to impress—their houses, in exotic Mediterranean style and Bali inspired themes. They’re proud to show the history of another nation except their own as if they’re ashamed of it.

As I walked around the Alberto house I imagined how Consul John Bowring described it in his book “A Visit to the Philippine Islands”. It was that important back in the day, when an official comes to Biñan they make a courtesy call to the mansion.

I have seen countless bahay-na-batos in the country and for me the Alberto house stands out as the grandest, the most impressive—not to mention its colorful history.

Biñan lost a great deal in this one.

A few weeks ago, a lightning struck the head of the Rizal monument in Biñan’s plaza. This is right in front where the house once stood.

Call me superstitious but I take that as an ominous sign.

Some materials, like this dirigkalin post, made it all the way here. Some of the paintings too. In this house, Rizal’s sister-in-law was said to have been held. The incident caused Teodora her liberty. She was accused of poisoning her sister-in-law.

The windows that’s close to me personally. The times that I visited this house in Binan I would look out out from these windows and see the church and the municipio. These windows used to open up to the Presidencia, the town hall in Binan. My avatar since I started this blog are these capiz windows, I think they managed to salvage the frames but the capiz shells appears to be new.

Here I get to experience the spacious court yard as it was during the prime years of the house. Just look at how princely it is. Beautiful. It’s a Spanish-Filipino colonial mansion like no other I tell you. Listen, they don’t make them like they used to!

Related Posts:

puto biñan and an alberto house-less biñan

The Fight for the Alberto House of Binan

Update on the Alberto House of Binan

The Alberto of Biñan and the Vigan Wife

Calls to Save Casa Alberto of Biñan…Too Late the Hero

The Alberto’s and Binan

Discovering Rizal’s Chapel of Our Lady of Peace

puto biñan and an alberto house-less biñan

A few weeks ago a colleague shared with me his baon.  Now, usually I’d politely decline such offers but when I found out that it’s puto biñan I just dug in. The last time I had one was two years ago.

What’s up puto!

puto biñan is the most delectable of all puto. And I could say this with certainty. I’ve traveled the country and puto is a standard eat. This delicacy from this Lagunense town has become my puto yardstick!

Since I have some time to spare today I decided to dropped by Biñan. I tried to look for real backyard bakers of puto biñan. I found none. So I had to settle for the rice cake’s most popular maker — Nila’s (Nilas).

The rice cake’s box says that they started in 1925 but according to this blog, whose author claims to be a relative of Aling Nila Samaniego, the business started in the 1940’s.

According to delicaciesinbinan  puto biñan  “is compose of grinded rice, lots of eggs, mixed with water and after that it is pampered with cheese, smolted with butter and top it with grinded egg.”

Aling Nila also started making new variation of putos like puto polo and  puto popo.

The Biñense lady must have been some kinda baking genius.

There’s another Biñense food I’m curious to experience–pancit biñan.

I have  not been lucky in my search for this brand of pancit so far. I now doubt if there’s ever such a pancit rooted in Biñense tradition.

I few year ago I had this amusing experience. I went to one of those small stalls serving merienda near the market. “Is this pancit biñan,” I asked. “Yes,” one of the helpers said.

After finishing my plate, I asked the lady who appears to be the owner what makes pancit biñan special.

” pancit biñan? pancit bihon yan!”

And so, the search for the authentic pancit biñan continues…

The old building where the hacienda was run. They build a new municipio and the word is that this old building would become the city’s museum

Of course, I wouldn’t leave Biñan without seeing its great antillean houses. There are still a few extant bahay-na-bato in the old town. I’m dumbfounded how one of the most prosperous Laguna city continue to ignore them.

Why not help promote these houses like San Fernando in Pampanga?

The city recently lost one of the most important historical houses in the entire province–the Alberto house. First time I saw a government so helpless in the face of losing a historical and cultural heritage building.

Now that it’s gone, there’s this gaping hole in old town’s delta. I can’t wait for it to be fully torn down. It just pains me to see it in its present state.

The Alberto house has been transferred to Bataan. I’m not sure if it’s already standing. The present owner (whom I interviewed a few years ago) is thrilled moving the house. He claims to no longer have the money to keep it and expresses satisfaction that “that at least Filipinos could still see” his family’s house — not in Biñan though — in Bataan.

Old houses, camarines, bodegas and an old cinema now being demolished.

I would write more on the history of Biñan’s antillean houses in the coming months. The old town has been a Filipino Chinese enclave for the longest time. Families that pioneered businesses in nearby towns like Sta. Rosa and Calamba are somehow related to the rich town of Biñan.

If only its present leaders could get their act together in promoting and protecting their heritage, not only will they draw more visitors, such projects would also instill a unique historical identity amongst the towns folk.

They were there, watching…

Still on the Alberto mansion…

The last time I saw casa alberto was with my friend a few days after the super typhoon ondoy. We heard that it was in pretty bad shape so we decided to pay a visit. When we got there the house was still soaking wet. The whole house smelled like old laundry. In one room, films of fungus started to grow from a pile of documents and furniture.

This marked the end of one of the most historic house in the country. Gerry, the owner, laments that “there’s no money to fix it”. He sold the house to Acuzar of Bataan later on, convinced that the millionaire’s resort project would give the house a new lease in life – in Bagac.

The mad antiquarian in us made us scavenge around the house. Looking for old documents, books and photos we could salvage. We found some interesting ones but decided not to take any.

I felt that someone was there with us, a presence. I don’t know if my friend had the same feeling.

When we were about to leave the room, my friend saw two old passports. The passport of the current owners father, Zoilo and aunt, Pilar. I told him to put those back in the box but before he did, I took a quick look.

We took a photo together with the owner and after a brief conversation about the house we left.

What a strange feeling it was to leave a house knowing you’ll never see again. Only callous people with no love for history allows such transgression against our national heritage without any remorse.

Somethings very, very wrong with us Filipinos.

As we walked away from the house, Pepe and I hardly spoke. He was on a hurry to go back to his family and I was dog tired. So we both walked in a hurried phase towards the national highway which was less than a kilometer away.

I don’t know what happened but I just suddenly stopped walking and started to look at a crowded narrow street on my left. I heard no voice but it felt like I was being led. My mind was telling me to cross – so I did. Pepe followed. I continued walking straight not knowing where I was headed. I was following something I can’t explain (which by the way, is so me).

After walking for about 2-3 minutes we then saw the old Catholic cemetery of Biñan. We both did not know that it was there. At this point I thought to myself why I was led here but there must be something there to see.

Curious, we decided to enter. At this time, sunlight was no longer visible – so, it was not the most comfortable situation. Cemeteries are not among my favorite places to be in especially during night time!

I told Pepe that I’ll check on the old camposanto which appears to date back from the Spanish era. It’s just a few yards away from that small iron gate we entered. My friend then started walking around reading inscriptions on some of the lapidas.

After I was done taking pictures (which were all bad because it’s almost night) Pepe frantically called me to join him.

Turns out that he just found the final resting place of those two people that once traveled with those passports we found inside Casa Alberto.

I couldn’t believe what we just found – was I led by these two people’s spirit to their graves?

One thing I’m sure is that along with the shivers that ran up to my spine, I felt their love for their home that very moment. It was like they wanted us to be there so they could thank us–personally.

Not all is lost in Biñan…

I hopped on my bike and went around Biñan looking for old houses. They’re still there, some of them. Sadly, most are just shells of what they once were. I remember the first time I saw the ancestral houses of Biñan a decade ago. Even then, there were already obvious signs of deterioration and neglect. That they’re still standing today is testament to their durability and resiliency. They were all built to last. Provided with proper care, they’ll definitely outlast  us all. Like they did to their original builders and past owners.

Most of the old houses in Biñan, with the exemption of some, are either abandoned, forgotten or demolished. The local government is clueless with heritage conservation. They could do so much better but they seem to not care. Well, they’re not alone. Most LGU’s really don’t have long term plans in conserving and protecting these kind of houses. If it were not for the desire of the descendants to keep their pamana (heritage) – the town would have lost them all sooner.

If things don’t change, Biñan would lose these architectural wonders soon. The biggest casualty so far is the Alberto mansion. Not only was it the childhood home of Rizal’s mother but in it lived a family who was so influential that one of them became the first and only representative in the Spanish cortes. They’re also among the first Filipinos to speak English. In that house lie so many secrets we haven’t uncovered yet. And now its gone.

I’ve visited Alberto mansion several times in the past. I interviewed the owner twice. After the damaged caused by typhoon Ondoy, It was apparent that the place needed more than just a fresh coat of paint. It needs major restoration work. But no one’s willing to take the tab. Such projects are just not a priority in a town riddled with politics.

The house has to go.

The guy who inherited the house was honest admitting that he was not really doing financially well. I can feel his sincerity and his genuine love for the house. His stories about his Grandpa and his Papa provided me with a glimpse into the Alberto’s of the early 20th century. He understands his family’s history and what his house means to Biñan. But  he just doesn’t have the resources to fund repairing the house much more restore it.

So, one of the most historic house in Filipino historiography would have to go to the highest bidder. And don’t expect Biñan to do any bidding though.

Last news I heard was that Acuzar has bought the house (not the lot) and is in the process of relocating everything to his Bataan resort. I’m not sure if the local government has acquired a court order to stop it. Its private so I don’t think they can.

The last word was that the house has already been dismantled from the inside. The exterior is still intact. Playing too late the hero, the local government has constructed a nice pathway with red brick pillars around the mansion (funded by RCBC). Why they haven’t done that earlier? Your guess is as good as mine.

No one wants to be perceived to be doing nothing. So people go around trying to make the impression that they’re doing something good for everybody. But truth be told – they don’t give a rat’s ass.

Riding bike have its advantages. One of them is that you get to spend more time. Its easier to move around and its faster than just walking. I noticed that Biñan’s barrios have interesting names: Loma (hills), Platero (silversmith), Ganado (male cattle), Tubigan (water source), Zapote (marmalade tree), Soro-Soro (milk hedge, popular medicinal plant), Malamig (cold) and Bungahan (area for fruit bearing trees). Names can tell a lot about a place. The same can be said about human names.

An old friend once told me that the true measure of how rich and cultured an old town used to be can be gleaned upon its old houses. Because their homes are expressions of their faith, culture and their arts.

Some old Biñense families has defied the odds. Preserving their ancestral home’s old charm and appealing grandeur against the natural elements and the pressure of selling because of rising property values.

Maintaining ancestral houses is not an easy task as it requires patience, hard work and money (a lot of it). Since local governments rarely support such effort, I have nothing but admiration for these families.

My message to these proud Filipino families: Thank you.

I’m sure your ancestors would want you to keep these houses. By doing so you honor yourself, your ancestors and your historic town. Let the future generations of Biñense see the glory of their old town.

Mabuhay po!

Old Camarin (Bodega) around Binan are noted for being lofty and wide. Its interesting why we Filipinos refer to such storage houses as "bodegas" because I was told that the old Filipino meaning for it is a liquor storage.

This one is near the rotonda. These structures were constructed with solid adobe supported by deep and thick foundations. "camaronchones" or "camarines" in Spanish is Camalig in Tagalog.

Built to withstand the most powerful of earthquakes. Interesting is that Camarin means protection and shelterer in Native American Chamoro. These structures are built to house crops.

A WWII monument at the middle of the rotunda.

A beautiful "Bahay na Bato" with typical wide windows, over sized rooms and lofty ceilings. "Bawal Umihi Dito!" written in white paint to warn would be violators.

Houses around here have very striking similarities. Typically, most of these mansions have several "zaguan" where horse was once kept

Recently painted "bahay na bato". This one looks good.

Another look... this just looks lovely! A gem from Old Binan!

Another "reused" ancestral house. Congratulations! At a distance can be seen Iglesia de Sn Ysidro

I thought this one's had been abandoned. I was surprised that a caretaker lives inside to look after the house. He was not happy that I was taking pictures of the house. Sorry!

The Alberto’s and Binan

With Gerardo Alberto. Photo courtesy of Pepe Alas

I was reading my friends newest post about Casa Alberto of Binan and I found myself laughing like crazy. I should stop teasing him about his traveling. He has written better articles and gets more readership – and I could not be happier because it serves our advocacy. I know that there’s not a lot of us at this point, hopefully, more and more people would write about the beautiful past of our ancestors, the culture that is closest to us today – the maligned and misunderstood Filipino Hispanico culture and history.

I just want to talk about the Alberto’s of Biñan (thanks to Pepe’s article!) and why I’m fascinated by them. Unlike all the other Rizal kin, they’re not really fond of their association with the hero. In fact when Ambeth Ocampo pressed Don Zoilo to clear some questions he was shown the door. Perhaps the animosity comes from the case that had Rizal’s mother incarcerated. The case was based on the accusation of the wife of Don Jose that Rizal’s mom tried to poison them. It was a strange relationship these people had – considering their close link. The imprisonment also gives us an idea how influential the Albertos were. I wonder how the half brother felt.

When we interviewed Gerardo, I felt his pride in his family’s accomplishments. This pride is what made him go somewhere else for help, He’s not about to beg Biñan’s clueless and disinterested politicians to fix his Daddy’s house again and again – that would be debasing the memory of his ancestors who helped build the old town.

He also shared some insights on how his family acquired the massive lot where his ancestors built the now soon to be transferred casa. According to him, the Spaniards gave them the land – and the money! I remember the strategy the Spaniards employed when they first arrived in the islands, since they lack numbers – they used the Principalia. They retained the status of the local lords, making it possible that these prehispanic families would prosper under their watch. Ensuring their loyalty under the Spanish crown and that of the people. We were taught in school that the tribal families where dissolved when the Spaniards came but in all indication those who accepted the Spanish crown were handsomely rewarded – these folks never went away.

I’m probably being pessimistic about Casa Alberto, with Gerry bent on transferring the house – there is probably little to be gained from continued protest. The fact is that Biñense politicos forgot to look after their historical treasures. In the future they have to bring their children to Bagac to see something that belongs to their town. The recent protest was a bold move but I would’ve appreciated if they’ve at least pointed out the role of the Alberto’s in Biñan’s history – who can blame an Alberto today for feeling bad, their family’s contributions are overlooked, overshadowed by Rizal. Their family was the most civic minded in the town’s well-known history, they helped build the infrastructure of Biñan in the 1800’s. An old man told me that the Alberto’s were out of town politics by the beginning of 1900’s, they concentrated in running what’s left of their business after the wars. By mid 1950’s most of the Alberto children would migrate to the US. Now, when you ask people what’s that grand house in front of the municipio you’ll get “bahay ng nanay ni Rizal” or “bahay ni Rizal” – and we wonder why the Alberto house is leaving town? ☻

It is only now that I realized I’ve written several articles (here, here, here and here) about Casa Alberto. Next one would be a report of its condition in Bagac – or still, Binan, who knows ☻

The Fight for the Alberto House of Binan

Gerardo Alberto with bloggers, Arnaldo and Pepe

Let me weigh in on some of the facts and lies about the shocking event that awoke Biñan one morning. The demolition of the Alberto Mansion: the ancestral house of Rizal’s mother and the many illustrious Biñense town leaders that came from this brilliant family.

The past is so different from our time, changing fortunes and tribulations alter the course of our modern lives. The present situation of the lone heir of the Alberto mansion, Gerry Alberto, has made it difficult to maintain the fast deteriorating state of the massive house. This prompted him to seek the assistance of the local government, who unsurprisingly had no plan, no answer. The usual excuse was “there are no funds”. There seem to be this concept that priority projects are those that will make them look good, and this old feeble residence, if restored with local tax money, won’t give them that publicity mileage. But I’m sure they’re interested now, because ever since the demolition crew started, news spread like wild fire (thanks to an Inquirer journalist), groups are rallying to stop the demolition. Of course, no local government would want to be seen disinterested in their town heritage – so let’s welcome the champions of heritage ladies and gents!

I’m all for conservation but I draw the line at what is realistic and what is not. After Ondoy, we visited the house and was stunned by the effect the super typhoon had, the ceilings was ready to fall; the beautiful portraits of the Albertos were all damaged beyond repair. The whole place smells awful possibly because of mold as some materials are still soaked in water. The roof, made of tisa, was really a safety concern, since water has infiltrated the structure that hold it, it is possible that it would collapse.

Of course, these are visual observation of someone that had no training in structural safety but in this situation you expect the local government to inspect the safety of a house that shares its history but this is not something that normally happen in our country. This heritage houses are never a priority, owners are left to help themselves. I asked Gerry Alberto why he hasn’t asked for the local government to shoulder the expense of the repair, apparently, he did and was given the usual answer, “no funds”. I became upset about what followed next. He then told us that he plans to move the house to Bataan!

He showed us an email where Ambeth Ocampo and Arch. Laya are copied (he later printed this and handed it to us) The discussion was about the Acuzar project. He then said, “wala na din pondo pampaayos”, citing the difficulty of repairing, much more restoring the house after the hit it took from the storm. This was upsetting for me, I felt terribly helpless, but there are certain realities we have to deal with. The lack of vision of the local government and Gerry’s failure to secure funding (how hard did he try to get it? We’ll never know) sealed the faith of the house to a certain doom.

The disinterested local governments were just waiting for it to fall. They don’t promote its history nor do they have plans to make it relevant to the town and its people, if you’re new to Biñan, you wouldn’t even know what that enormous house, now covered with political tarpaulin is. They’re too busy fighting over politics instead of coming up with plan that would save the house. Now that the owner decided to save it by moving the entire house to Bataan, they want to be heroes and save it.

Why then wait for the owner to knock it down when he sought for your assistance years ago?

On the other hand, in fairness to Acuzar and his company, they never went shopping for the Alberto house (but I’ve heard that they did in many occasions, like in the case of the Maxino). If there was ever a negotiation, it took place after the two were acquainted with the help of third party people. Probably in Gerry’s mind, the deal was the only way for him to save his ancestors house and to make money out of it. During our conversation, he told us how much the house meant to him, I believe that this was something he never wanted. Confronted with the situation and the choices available, he made the difficult decision now seen as a traitorous act.

We were surprised that he even listened to what we have to say. I’m not sure if he is even aware of what blogs are but still he welcomed us and showed us around. It was not the first time we visited but I appreciated his gesture. We tried to convince him to try reach out again for help but being from a proud pioneering Biñense family going back generations, begging for financial relief for his ancestor’s house was probably hard for him to do. Going around we uncovered a pile of stuff in one room, we saw countless old books in Spanish previously owned by his father, we asked him if we could have it, in exchange we promise to keep them well, he kindly declined the proposal. A friend, who met the older Alberto, Dn. Zoilo, described him as being a gentleman from “the old days”. They dined inside the house sometime in the 70’s id I recall the story correct. Both speaking in pure Spanish, my friend listened to the older Alberto discuss the history of his family and their connection to local politics during the 1800’s. Don Zoilo died in the early 2000’s. If he was still around, I wonder if things would be different.

Now that the local government is showing interest in shelling out money, we definitely have to take advantage of this sudden curiosity. Whether they truly care for the house or not, let them spend the money and have the house restored! Take it back from Acuzar and start restoring the house. Biñan’s plan of moving the house somewhere in Biñan and making it a museum must also be blocked. It should stay where it is. The best thing that should happen here is for the local government to buy the land and the house all together. Keep it for Biñan!

View photos here

Update on the Alberto House of Binan

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.

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