Thursday, September 06, 2012

Bahay Nakpil Bautista (Quiapo, Manila)

“It is just across the street” - replied the vendor near the entrance of Quiapo Church.

We were looking for Bautista Street. Specifically, we would like to visit the Nakpil Bautista house of Gregoria de Jesus. The vendor’s answer shows confidence. We then headed to that street opposite the Quiapo Church.

After passing through the underpass, we saw the Bautista street sign and a police station.  After walking for a meter, we gazed upon an old house with a Philippine flag on the entrance. We assumed that this is the house we were looking for.

Bahay Nakpil Bautista (Photo taken 2 September 2012)

The Bahay Nakpil Bautista is easily recognizable among other houses, buildings, and other structures in the area. Aside from flags hanging on its entrance, its wide windows made of “capiz” shells reveals itself as a house from the past.

A sign and a marker confirmed our earlier assumption that this is the Bahay Nakpil Bautista. At first we thought that the house was closed. The large wooden doors were shut. But, as we heard children’s voices playing inside the house, we knocked on the door and asked if we can have a tour of the house and take pictures.

There were people living on the first floor of the house. I do not know if they are  relatives or lessees, but we were told to go up the stairs and look for the caretaker.

The beautiful wooden stairways immediately convey that this is house belongs to those in the higher level of society during the Spanish times. We should be grateful that the owners of this house have decided to preserve it.

There is a minimal entrance fee. The amount, just like in any historical places, is surely not enough to cover for maintenance expenses. 

The house is a typical example of ancestral houses in the Philippines or the so-called “Bahay na Bato” usually owned by the nobles, rich landowners or government officials.  History says that it is in this house that Gregoria de Jesus (widow of Andres Bonifacio) lived with his second husband Julio Nakpil and their eight children. Filipino philanthropist Dr. Ariston Bautista and his wife Petrona Nakpil owned this house then. Petrona is Julio’s sister.

In the sala of the house used to hang Juan Luna’s famous painting the “Parisian Life” originally owned by Ariston Bautista. It is said that this painting was later bought in 2002 by the GSIS from Christies' Auction House in Hong Kong for Php 45 – 46 million. Now, only a rough replica of this painting remains in this house.

Juan Luna's famous painting the "Parisian Life" originally hanged on the wall of this house

From the old photo in the sala,  the original painting "Parisian Life" is seen hanging on the wall 
The house has been converted to a museum. Old cabinets, bed, chairs, dining table, other pieces of furniture, clothes, personal items, and other memorabilia are on display. There is even a reproduction of Oriang’s letter showing her love for Andres Bonifacio.

While the owners or occupants opted to preserve this house, there are so many things that have changed through the passage of time. There is an old photo of the terrace of the house showing the nearby stream.  In the photo there are children swimming in the river suggesting that this body of water used to be clean. It is said that Gregoria de Jesus or “Aling Oriang” used to catch fish in this river and used it in her dishes. I really do not know what Aliang Oriang would say when she sees the present state of this river.

Photos taken from the terrace of the house. Above is the river where Lola Oriang used to catch fish and where children used to swim.  I think the view from this terrace during her time was much more pleasant and refreshing than today.

While in this house, it is easy to imagine how life was during the time of Rizal, Bonifacio, Luna and Oriang. There are several photos of that time at this house.  The pictures reveal how simple but dignified that life was. 

Present view of the street from the house
It may be safe to assume that during Oriang’s time, the area where this house now stands was full of beautiful landscapes and with wide open spaces and not crowded as today. Perhaps, Quiapo Church is visible from the windows of this house during her time.

We bade goodbye to this house thankful that we saw a part of Philippine history. We hope that this house would remain standing for future generations to see as a reminder of our colorful past.

No comments: