If you’re visiting the noble city of Iloilo, get ready to be transported back in the Spanish colonial era with an innumerable ancestral houses that will excite your senses. Be reminded of the colorful past of Iloilo with a tour to one of its oldest ancestral house - Casa Mariquit.
Tucked in Santa Isabel St. in Jaro, Iloilo, the 215 year-old ancestral house like most ancient houses, has its own story waiting to be discovered. With its red brick architecture and original molave panels and woods, it serves as a portal mirroring how the elite once lived in the 18th century. Casa Mariquit is a perfect juxtaposition of past and present, with the preservation of the house and its original furniture and a small modernization with its solar panels on the roof.
Built in 1803 as both a bank and a residence by Ramon Javellana, the two-storey ancestral house then became a home of his grand daughter, Maria “Mariquit” Javellana (whom the house was named after), and his husband, Fernando Lopez, Sr. who served as the Vice President of the Philippines for three terms (once under President Elpidio Quirino and twice under Ferdinand Marcos). He is also known as the chairman of ABS-CBN Corp. for seven years until his death in 1993.
Casa Mariquit is currently owned by their great grandson, Robert Peña Puckett, who started the restoration of the ancestral house in 1993. As the president of Solar Electric Co. Inc., Pucket made some modernization by installing solar panels on the roof.
Considered as one of the best-preserved and well-maintained Spanish colonial ancestral house, Casa Mariquit is a gem of the past with its distinct “bahay na bato” facade. The ground floor is made of its original red bricks while the second floor is made of molave and wooden architecture. Similar to other colonial ancestral house, the bricks were cemented with egg whites that were supposed to make the foundation stronger. Unfortunately, the egg white mixture attracts birds so they covered the original adhesive with a cement mixture to protect the bricks from being pecked by the birds.
In order to preserve the historical memory of the entire house, a memorabilia is spread across the rooms from the cement vault built in 1990, campaign paraphernalia of Fernando Lopez, Sr., antique home decors and furniture such as old grandfather clock that still tells time, gramophone, paintings, old cameras to framed black and white photographs of Lopez meeting historical figures, such as a photo of Saint Pope John Paul II during his visit to the house.