The streets of Taal are lined with large and well-preserved bahay-na-bato, mostly owned by aristocratic illustrados and wealthy merchants who prospered during the economic boom brought by the planting of Mexican coffee in the 1840s. However, the coffee industry declined in the 1890s due to a certain type of worm that infested the coffee farms.
Taal also boasts of ancestral houses belonging to prominent Taal residents who took an active role in the struggle for Philippine Independence. Two important houses are the Marcela Marino Agoncillo Museum and Monument and the Leon Apacible Museum and Library.
Marcela Marino Agoncillo Museum and Monument
Marcela Agoncillo is wife of first Filipino diplomat Felipe Agoncillo. She is our own Betsy Ross since she sewed the first Philippines flag with the help of her daughter Lorenza and Herbosa de Natividad (Jose Rizal’s niece) while on exile in Hong Kong. It was the same flag that was waved by General Emilio Aguinaldo during the Declaration of Independence on June 12, 1898 in Kawit, Cavite.
The house was built by Marcela’s grandfather, Don Andres Marino in the late seventeenth century. The house is said to be one of the oldest if not the oldest structure in town. The houses turned museum has the charm of a typical provincial Spanish era bahay-na-bato. It houses antique period furniture and personal effects. A garden located on one side of the house stands a bronze monument of Dona Marcela presenting a flag.
Leon Apacible Museum and Library
Further up the street, across Taal National High School is the Leon Apacible Museum and Library. This was the ancestral house Leon and Matilde Apacible. The house according to the NHI marker, was a place where Jose Rizal, Mariano Ponce and other Filipino heroes would gather.
Leon Apacible became Aguinaldo’s finance officer. He was also one of the delegates to the Malolos Congress of 1898.
Former town mayor Mrs. Corazon Apacible Ciniza was the last member of the Apacible clan to live in the house. She donated and entrusted the ancestral house to the care of the National Historical Institute in 1976.
A restored carruaje greets visitors upon entering the zaguan.
The second floor contains the house’s much preserved Art Deco interior and matching antique furniture.
Some of the antique furnishings and personal effects that adorn each of the rooms include an 1870 piano made by M.F. Rachals of Hamburg Germany and hand-painted fans owned by Dona Matilde are on display at the living room.
Blue and white Ming dynasty pottery, gilded Florentine wine decanters and gilt-edged and hand painted Venetian dinner service are exhibited at the dining room.
The bedroom exhibits a four poster bed and 19th century vanity mirror.
A sixteenth century image of the Nuestra Senora del Rosario is on display at the ante-sala.
More Ancestral Homes
Other houses in the area include the mansions Don Gregorio and Felipe Agoncillo, the Ylagan-Dela Rosa Ancestral House and beautifully renovated home of the Gliceria Marcel de Villavicencio (she provided funding and logistics for the first warship of Aguinaldo’s Revolutionary Forces, Bulusan).
Click here to continue with the tour.
Click here to begin at part one.