Tag Archives: binan san pedro

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.


A Rough Road in Biñan and the Landayan Trisikad

I usually take the less traveled roads to get around traffic. I reached Biñan at around 6 am. The heat and traffic was tolerable along the national road but the jeeps really pose serious danger. They swerve and block without regard to cyclist. One must be very defensive in riding.

On my way back I decided to take the route near the lake. From Bo. La Paz in Biñan, I took the moderately rough road, about 6 to 8 feet wide to Bo. Landayan.

It was a surprising discovery. I’ve never seen this side of Biñan. There’s still some nature left but I doubt if it will last long. I saw several housing projects being built in the area.

The road was mildly rough. This made the ride more enjoyable. Eventually it will be paved as subdivisions and townhouses multiply along the lake shore area. Fish Vendors along the roads sells the freshest catch: bangus, tilapia, dalag and hito. The only farming present in the area is the cultivation of Kangkong (swamp cabbage or water cabbage or water spinach). I saw several men carrying sacks of banded kangkong.


The route terminates with a gate that is closed. A person opens it when someone would pass. I’m not sure why there’s a need to close the road. My guess is that the subdivision’s home owners decided to do this for security reasons.

Less than 500 meters from this spot is Bo. Landayan of San Pedro. This small barrio is home to the famous devotional icon, the Sto. Sepulcro (Holy Sepulchre) or Lolo Uweng to locals.

Another fascinating icon in Landayan are the tall, slim classic styled pedicabs. Its style has not change for almost 50 years. I asked the pedal pushing drivers if they know why and most of them said that in the area where floods are common, the old pedicab’s design is perfect. Some say that the design was retained because it was sleeker and faster.

The traveler standing beside a Landayan pedicab

According to a pedicab driver I interviewed, there are around 700 pedicabs in Landayan. I asked if the motored tricycles are a threat to their livelihood, an old man responded “no, because most people still prefer the pedicabs”. The guy also said he was old enough to remember the “25 centimo” riding fee back in the days. And this could be one of the reason why people still ride the pedicabs. They’ve been roaming the crowded narrow calle’s of Landayan for as long as they can remember.

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