My first visit to the City of Love back in 2012 made me include Iloilo in my list of towns/cities where heritage conservation is at its best. As a lover of history, I was in awe of its well-preserved ancestral homes. Some of the oldest were also the biggest. And they were not just big. They were also grand.
One of the old houses we visited was Camiña Balay nga Bato. At more than 150 years old, the house has been heralded as a National Cultural treasure by the National Commission of Culture & the Arts (NCCA). It was built in a style called ‘arquitectura mestiza’ which is a beautiful merging of Filipino and Spanish architectural designs.
The square shape of the house, the ventanillas made of capiz, the wooden posts or haligis were adapted from our very own Bahay Kubo (Wooden Hut). Originally, Camiña Balay nga Bato had 24 haligis but steel reinforcements were needed to be done by the current owners since the trees used to build these are hard to find nowadays. Interestingly, the number of haligis was a confirmation of how wealthy the owners were in the early days. While the house’s exterior or frame resembles a bahay kubo, the interiors display its European influence.
The house has been opened to the public for a number years now. The tour won’t be complete without tasting the famous tsokolate batirol and Molo soup. Both are some of the house’s signature offerings aside from the tummy-filling lunch buffet they serve.
Guests are welcome for walk-in tours but lunch buffet is only served upon reservation. The Php 500 per head (minimum of ten individuals) is an offer guests shouldn’t be miss. Most of the ingredients used come straight from the family’s own farm. Read free-range chicken, fresh fruits and vegetables and delectable seafood from the market.
Dining here will transport you back in time as the opulent and well-preserved surroundings will give you a glimpse of how the lives of the educated class were during the Spanish times.
This was the last leg of our tour. But aside from the Ati Tribe Competition, for me this was one of the highlights of our trip. It made me look at Iloilo beyond the plains and modernization. Just like any old Philippine town, Iloilo, I realized, has a beautiful and restless soul.
Camiña Balay nga Bato
20 Osmena St., Villa de Arevalo, Iloilo City
Hours: 8 AM to 6 PM daily
For reservations: (033) 336-5075
Tours and Fees*
Entrance: Php 150, Tour with tsokolate de batirol
Php 200 – tour with tsokolate and pancit molo,
Php 500 – tour with lunch, tsokolate de batirol and pancit molo (Minimum of 10 persons)
*May change from date of posting, please contact the establishment for updates