The Rodriguez Grandchildren
They happily donned Filipiniana costumes inspired by those worn 100 years ago by their great grandparents.
Deeper into the province of Quezon is this quaint coconut farming town of Sariaya. Just a 3 hour drive south of Manila, the town sits practically at the foot of the mystical Mount Banahaw. Many ancestral houses still stand today, thanks to the descendants of the wealthy and prominent families who owned them.
The Coconut Barons of Sariaya
Back in those days, "hacienderos"
referred to the plantation owners, the aristocrats, the landed gentry. While Silay and other towns in Negros had their sugar barons, the town of Sariaya in Quezon was the territory of the coconut tycoons. In both locales, the heirloom houses stand as testaments to a glorious and rich past. The affluence of those pre-war days was manifested in the grandeur of the many Art Deco houses of this small town which were mercifully preserved through the years. These ancestral houses belonged to just a handful of families in this part of Quezon. The Gala, Alcala, Rodriguez, Arguelles and Enriquez families. They must be the equivalent of Silay's Hofilena, Gascon, Jalandoni, Locsin, and Lacson families. (Check out my Silay blog The Heritage Houses of Silay City
Money from agriculture. That's how things were back then. A feudal society
Constructed as a gift to his ailing wife and mother of his 7 children, but tragically the wife died just a few days before the house was completed.
where you have the hacienderos and the farm hands. As with their counterpart elite families from Silay City, money earned from copra exports were spent lavishly on their homes where many parties must have been hosted. These families did not scrimp on expenses as the best and the brightest architects and furniture makers were commissioned. The Gala-Rodriguez Family had Architect Juan Nakpil design its art-deco residence and Gonzalo Puyat craft its furniture. Interestingly, Architect Nakpil is the son of Philippine Revolution leaders Julio Nakpil (who composed the Revolution hymns) and Gregoria de Jesus, who was the widow of the revolutionary hero Andres Bonifacio. During the Japanese Occupation, the Imperial Army occupied the second floor of the house while the family was allowed to stay on the first floor. Having a beautiful daughter worried the Gala-Rodriguez family to a point where Carmen, the eldest daughter , had to be hidden from the Japanese Imperial Army Chief. We were toured around the house and the guide didn't miss to point out to us a "hidden passageway" to the cellar right under the dining table. This was Carmen's hiding place.
The Heritage Houses
The National Historical Institute has declared the
Living Room of the Gala-Rodriguez Mansion
Art Deco House designed by Architect Nakpil, furnished by Gonzalo Puyat. The best and the brightest of the pre-war time.
Gala-Rodriguez House as a Heritage House, along with the Natalio Enriquez House and the Rodriguez House. The Natalio Enriquez House , built in 1931, earns the distinction of having been designed by no less than European-schooled Andres Luna de San Pedro, son of National Artist Juan Luna. Just right across this house is the stately Rodriguez House, now called Villa Sariaya. All 3 houses are along Quezon and Daliz Streets. In fact, you can view all 3 from any one of the wide, lovely windows of Villa Sariaya. This house has since been transformed into some kind of a Museum where one can do a "photo shoot" wearing any of the rented Filipiniana costumes. Some of the photos on this spread show the great grandchildren of Don Catalino Rodriguez. These teens paraded in full Filipiniana regalia while we were loitering around the House's living and dining areas, prompting some of us to rent some costumes for a "photo shoot". It was both hilarious and entertaining. Souvenirs are also available here at the "tienda" where "kakanin" or midday snacks may be purchased. We had a sampling of some of these delicacies : the local tamales, the biscuits called jacobina with some
Rodriguez House aka Villa Sariaya
We met the descendants of Don Catalino Rodriguez at the time we visited this ancestral house. The grandchildren happily donned old Filipiniana costumes to our delight and entertainment.
minced pork on top, the curly toasts , along with the "lemonada" or lemonade. Obviously, the practices and cuisine of the wealthy and prominent citizens of Sariaya were heavily influenced by its Spanish conquerors.
By late afternoon, the "Agawan" Festival in Sariaya
commenced where the "loot" were tied to young bamboos called "bagakay"
. The loot are grabbed ("agawan"
) soon after the festivities are over, which is timed exactly after the procession passes the houses decorated with bagakays.
In another nearby town, there is the Mayohan Festival in Tayabas
-- glutinous rice cooked and wrapped to look like short sticks --- are thrown into the crowds. Celebrated on the same day as the Pahiyas Festival in nearby Lucban, Quezon, the Agawan and Mahoyan Festivals are less lavish but bore the same spiritual message of gratitude in honor of the patron saint of farmers and laborers, San Isidro Labrador.
How to Get There:
Sariaya, Quezon is 124 kilometers south of Manila. If you leave early and beat the traffic, it will be an easy 3-hour drive along the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) all the way to its end towards
Inside the Rodriguez Mansion
If Silay had their sugar barons, Sariaya had their coco-tycoons!
the Lucena / Legaspi / Batangas exit. At the Sto.Tomas Junction, turn left. You will then pass through San Pablo City (Laguna) before entering the province of Quezon. Sariaya comes after the towns of Tiaong and Candelaria.
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