A HISTORICAL LANDMARK. Visiting ancestral houses links us with our cultural and historical legacy. In Taal Batangas, the centuries-old ancestral houses in what has been declared a Heritage Town were not just indicators of landed wealth but also reminders of the active role that its prominent residents took in the struggle for Philippine Independence.
The 17th century Agoncillo House is believed to be one of the oldest in town. Now a museum, the Agoncillo House is a historical landmark dedicated to the making of the Philippine flag.
THE AGONCILLOS. Built by Andres Mariño, the house later became home to first Filipino diplomat Felipe Agoncillo and wife Marcela Mariño Agoncillo, seamstress of the Philippine flag. Following the demise of the oldest living children of Felipe and Marcela; Gregoria and Marcela (named after her mother), the ancestral house was donated to the National Historical Commission.
THE AGONCILLO HOUSE. There are those who say that the flag was actually made in the house on M.N. Agoncillo St. After all, the first thing that visitor would see upon entering the house is a marble and cement sculpture depicting the sewing of the flag.
But what we’ve learned in school is that the flag was designed by General Emilio Aguinaldo while in exile in Hong Kong. Aguinaldo went to see the Agoncillos where the family resided also in exile, at 535 Morrison Hill, Hong Kong, and requested Doña Marcela to sew the flag he designed. With the help from her daughter Lorenza and Delfina Herbosa de Natividad, niece of Dr. Jose Rizal, the flag was finished in five days and was hand carried by Aguinaldo on his return to the Philippines.
ZAGUAN. Like most houses built during Spanish colonial period, the main living quarters of the Agoncillo house was on the second floor. The ground floor space was usually intended as parking area for the carruaje and storage for supplies and grains.
In the olden days, tenant-farmers were only allowed in the lower levels of the house where they were usually seen seated on the capiya while waiting instructions from their landlord who held office at the despacho in the entresuelo.
ENTRESUELO. In the Agoncillo House, the entresuelo is an elevated room beside the main staircase. It now contains the library where antique books are displayed. Impressive were the colorful stained glass used on the window shutters instead of the usual capiz panels. The ornate grill-work also provides a sense of nostalgia when viewing the street while sitting by the windowsill.
SALA MAYOR. We learned that the main rooms of the house still have the original wooden floorboards where an arrangement of antique furniture style known as Luis Quince and Carlos Trese, are mixed with Viennese bentwood pieces.
CUARTO. Flanking the huge framed-mirror in the sala are double-doors leading to the two adjoining bedrooms. One has been converted into an oratorio or prayer room. The main bedroom has a four-poster Ah-Tay bed, which was considered a status symbol during that time.
COMEDOR. The dining room can be accessed through a small door by the prayer room. However, it can also be viewed from a window opening from the the ante-sala. To the left of the ante-sala is a room leading to the kitchen where assorted kitchenware are displayed.
EPILOGUE. Visitors exit back to the main entrance and are encouraged by museum staff to go to the garden located at the side of the house where a bronze statue by Florante Caedo depicting a heroic Marcela holding up the flag she has made in time for the declaration of Philippine Independence on June 12, 1898.
12 June 2012 | Independence Day