CHANGING ADDRESS. Search for the image of Bayanihan in the Internet and be surprised how a group of able-bodied men carry an entire house on their backs and shoulders. In the olden days, all that’s needed to change address, the entire house included are neighbors and friends.
Is this concept of bayanihan applies the same to the practice of uprooting ancestral houses including its furniture from their historic locations and native communities? Assuming arguendo that this practice violates our heritage preservation law, let’s look at the museum artifacts and the transplanted bahay-na-bato in the compound of Sulyap Gallery Cafe and Restaurant and weigh in on the subject of heritage preservation versus the removal and rebuilding of old structures and the collecting of antiques and cultural artifacts.
TRANSPLANTING HERITAGE. Sulyap Gallery Cafe and Restaurant was borne out from the passion of its owner in collecting Philippine antique furniture and deteriorating ancestral houses. In a vast private compound in San Pablo City, he opened his ‘collection’ to the public so that new generations can experience sitting on antique furniture while dining in an ancestral bahay-na-bato just like how it were in the past.
This practice of acquiring antiques, transplanting ancestral houses and clustering them in a venue where the public is encouraged to interact with objects from the past is in a way providing a sanctuary that preserves our cultural patrimony and architectural heritage away from the bonfires of progress.
HACIENDA HOUSE. Casa de Obando must have been a bahay-na-bato that once stood in the middle of a vast plantation that has now turned into a residential subdivision in Bulacan. It has details of a house meant for tropical conditions. It is surrounded by capiz sliding windows that can be opened wide for ventilation and to see full vistas. Screened with balusters are small shuttered windows below the capiz windows called ventanillas. Extended eaves and media aguas above the windows shields the interior against the rain.
Guests to Sulyap Cafe can rent out the entire Casa de Obando to experience what is like living in a hacienda house in the olden days.
CASA DE CABAY. The 1907 house from the town of Cabay in Quezon Province has stone walls on the ground floor and an all-wood second floor. The wide windows are embellished with stained glass and wood tracery patterns.
Period furniture completes the old world setting of Casa de Cabay where guests are served with comfort food that makes us nostalgic for those weekend lunches in grandma’s home.
THAT BELONGS IN A MUSEUM. Also within the Sulyap Gallery Cafe compound is a private museum that houses a massive collection of Philippine antiques. The museum is open for public viewing. The museum artifacts ranging from farm implements to household furniture are spilled in different rooms at no particular theme or classification.
Ultimately, this private collection of antiques and artifacts is an interpretation of the famous line from Indiana Jones: ‘that belongs in a museum!’
EPILOGUE. While I strongly disagree with the removal of heritage structures from their historic locations and native communities like how a beach resort in Bataan has done it, I admire those individuals who spent time and resources to preserve, restore and made tremendous effort in providing shelter and care to tangible pieces of our heritage.
In this day and age when the past is sometimes forgotten, putting up museum that gives us a Sulyap -a glimpse to our past is in essence a demonstration of bayanihan for the sake of heritage preservation.
-Heritage Month | Penticost Sunday 2015