Century old houses in old Bulacan capital attract tourists, featured in 2024 Pamana calendar

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BULAKAN, Bulacan—A captivating glimpse of the rich heritage of this old capital of the province will continue to astound local folks today and even world tourists when the P754 billion worth New Manila International Airport opens a few years from now because of intensified efforts being undertaken to preserve them.

Not only that they are still well-maintained structures and ordinances will be created to help preserve them best, they are also featured and promoted in the 2024 Bulakan Bayang Pamana” calendar of Kabesera Inc, the town’s heritage group. The calendar also features a five hundred years old document of a millionaire’s will, perfect for salad aquaculture plant, traditional fishing tool, local heroes and illustrious folks.

Perfecto Teodoro Martin, former president of Kabesera Inc., who conceptualized the Bayang Pamana calendar starting 2023 said the century  old houses that continue to be preserved these days are some of the oldest in the town and were erected during the more than 300 years of Bulakan being capital of the province.

Martin who previously works in UP Sentro ng Wikang Filipino and at the Publication and Information Division Director of the National Center for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) said Bulakan has become the capital of the province for that long years compared to the now capital City of Malolos which is only more than 100 years capital of the province.   

Ycasiano house
The century old houses include the Ycasiano-Enriquez house situated in Barangay San Jose and the boundary of Barangay Matungao that was built in 1860 has not lost its radiance as an edifice of the Spanish era. Kabesera Inc. former president Don Jacinto Ycasiano built the house for his daughter Josefa who married Vicente Enriquez (aide-de-camp) of Gen. Gregorio Del Pilar and one of the survivors of the Battle at the Pasong Tirad. Their son, Jacinto Enriquez who was married to Milgaros Santiago-Enriquez,the famous Philippine food historian inherited the house. Today, their children including Bong Enriquez, a Kabesera Inc. member, known in the field of theatre arts continue to preserve the house.

A number of movie and television drama series were filmed in the house.

Tanseco house
In Camino Street also in Barangay San Jose, the “Tanseco House,” ancestral house of the ancestors of Dela Pena remains a head-turner.

The 92 year-old house of Homobono Sempio Tanseco and Isabel Fajardo built in 1931 still stands beautifully today under the care of Dela Pena. The former secretary who served six years during the term of former President Rodrigo Duterte converts the property as the family’s rendezvous for reunions and other occasions.
The house is deemed more significant and historical because it continues to keep a hundred year old family memorabilias, kept and pasted in a cabinet’s door and was framed to be preserved. 

In the door of a cabinet in one of the rooms, a typewritten record of the marriage date of Dela Pena’s grandparents with the list of all the names of the nine children, their birth dates and the deaths of some of them was still pasted and readable today.   

”Dito nakatala ang mga pangalan ng naging bunga ng pag-iisang palad ni Homobono Tanseco at Isabel Fajardo na ginanap noong ika-2 ng Marso, sa Taong Isang Libo, Siyam na Raan at Lima. Dito din naman makikita ang araw ng pagsilang ng mga naging bunga, gayon din ang kamatayan ng ilan sa kanila,” (It is listed here where the names of the fruits of the union of Tanseco at Isabel Fajardo that was held on March 2, 1905. It is here also the births of their birth and even their death of some of them are also listed)”.

Casa MESA
In Barangay Bambang, the “Casa Mesa”(MESA for “MEneses and SAlonga”) house of Natividad Meneses and Moises Salonga, parents of Fr. Domingo “Memeng” Salonga that was built in 1949 remain existing today despite reconstruction made in 2002. It continue to preserve today the original woods of the old house, the windows, tiles and still keep today its old artistic designs, paintings and sculpture images of the saints.

Samonte house
In Barangay Taliptip,a World War II built house of couple Faustino and Lourdes (Odeng) Samonte is still preserved today by their grandchildren, one of whom is retired Bulacan Provincial Prosecutor Renato Samonte Jr.

Bulakan’s outstanding sons and daughters
Also in the calendar were Bulacan’s outstanding sons and daughters-Carmen De Luna, a pioneer in woman education who co-founded the Centro Escolar University; Pedro Serrano Laktaw, a Tagalog writer and poet who made the Spanish-Tagalog and Tagalog-Spanish dictionary; Anacleto Enriquez, a revolutionary known as “Matang Lawin” who led the Battle in San Rafael Church, Cipriana “Da Panang” Gonzales, a philanthropist and women leader in Barangay Bambang who was behind the construction of churches and schools in Bambang. Fr. Mariano Sevilla who established the Flores De Mayo tradition in honor of the Virgin Mary. He was also a writer, a poet and a political leader who was expelled by the Spaniards is also featured in the calendar.

A 500 year old document
A 1691 will of Dona Juana Manahin, widow of Don Bernabe Aliguid, from a rich family in Barangay Bambang which document is still being further studied and researched by Prof. Regalado Trota Jose which Martin describes demonstrated the rich culture, language of the Filipinos during the early times.

Fishing tool and aquaculture plant

Dampalit, an aquaculture vegetable, continues to be harvested in Bulakan’s coastal areas and sold in the market. It is best made as a salad dressing. Baklad is a form of fish trap used by fishermen.

Bulacan First District Rep. Danilo Domingo had filed House Bill 7161 “Ac Act Establishing a Heritage Zone within the Municipality of Bulakan, Province of Bulacan” in Congress in February this year to help ensure that all the vital history, culture and heritage of the town will be reserved while the town converts itself into a premier city in the country and in the world because of the New Manila International Airport.

Kabesera President Gemma Santos said under this law, the municipal government of Bulakan will have to create heritage ordinances.

Cultural mapping and heritage ordinance and district
The municipal government, church, socio-civic groups, private companies and the local heritage group Kabesera Inc. have just completed the cultural mapping of all the historical and cultural structures, symbols, beliefs and traditions, illustrious personalities, food and fishing practices being a coastal town near the mouth of Manila Bay.

More than 100 old structures, traditions,cultures,beliefs and practices are now recorded as part of the rich heritage of the town as the old capital of the province as a result of the cultural mapping.

Kabesera Chairman former Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Fortunato Dele Pena said preserving the rich history, culture and tradition of Bulakan is necessary as the town will be the core of advancement and modernization when the airport operates three to four years from now. 

Need for an ordinance and a heritage district

In a recent forum, Ivan Anthony Henares, Secretary General, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) National Commission of the Philippines said further protection and conservation of the more than century old houses and other rich heritage will need the establishment of a heritage district through the creation of local ordinances.

Henares said the local ordinance will be the first line of defense in helping preserve all the old and significant structures in one locality.

The ordinance also included incentives to the owners of the houses like exemption to the real estate tax provided that they will help in the restoration and not allow any dismantling or sale of their properties.”Hindi na nagbabayad ng amelyar ang mga may ari- ng heritage houses basta hindi nila gigibain ang bahay, iyan ang isa sa mga nakasaan sa ordinance. First line of defense para proteksiyunan ang mga century old houses ang magkaroon ng local ordinances at magdeklara ng heritage district,” Henares said. 

Also part of that ordinance is the conservation guidelines which set the parameters of how the old structures–like the different parts of the old houses should be preserved and protected, the UNESCO Secretary general added.

He also cited Vigan even as the City of Malolos, the current capital of the province which had already created their respective local ordinances protecting their rich heritage.

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