Intramuros has retained its vintage elegance amid nearby industrialized establishments. If you have been to the well-known walled-city, you’ve probably passed by this Museum. Casa Manila was one of the several grand houses dating back to 1850 in Barrio San Luis. It features the domestic life of the upper-class (ilustrados) family Filipinos in the 19th century. Mostly those who became wealthy due to trading occupied these mansions. This Spanish-architecture inspired stone-wood colonial house is remarkable in the old Manila. Previously said museum is a replica of the 1850s San Nicolas House that once stood on Calle Jaboneros. Nearby infrastructures are also similar to its design. Indeed, a stroll in Casa Manila Museum is undeniably momentous.
Furthermore, renowned first lady of the Philippines Imelda Marcos hired architect J. Ramon L. Faustmann to construct this classical homestead. Antique furniture from China and Europe, and also items made by local craftsmen, can be found here. Designed and beautifully decorated in authentic style, truly providing an intriguing glimpse of a historical period.
The Ground Floor (Puerta Principal)
A huge wooden door will greet you going to the receiving area upon entrance. The Interior of the historic Casa Manila Museum is very expansive having 3 floors. Entering the building might be confusing as you wouldn’t see much on the ground level. The main floor walls consist of adobe or volcanic tuff, since that was the common building substance in the village from the 16th to the late 19th centuries. As an art enthusiast myself, the old oil portraits and huge chandeliers caught my attention. The intricate details they invested to creating such a sophisticated abode are adding up to its cultivated theme.
Outside the grounds is the Patio were they lounge on the afternoon when they don’t feel like taking siestas. It is constructed by granite pavements that help make the ambiance cooler. Additional to the aesthetics is the fountain surrounded by tall and hanging plants. Thus these evergreens help bring fresh breeze in the vicinity.
It was wide enough stable to accommodate their carriages back in the day. In this time, it’s similar to what we call, the garage. Transportation for Ilustrados was mainly a caravan pulled by horses during those times. Indeed such a dreamy and elegant era, right? I would love to live in that moment as well, if given a chance.
The Middle Floor
Of course a walk to the momentous Casa Manila Museum is incomplete without going to each floors. Upon reaching the second floor landing, you’ll be greeted by the oficina and biblioteca (office and library) having their fine and luxurious furniture. The wooden sleek tables and chairs continue through the area. Difference is you’ll see more doors holding each of the bedrooms. This is where they take their mid-day or afternoon naps – as they call it, siesta.
It’s also fun to see baul and caja de hiero (chestbox and safe) in some spots. Such things makes you channel your inner pirate except that you can’t touch them, you can only admire and look at them. Strange enough, the ambiance feels very homey specially even if you haven’t lived in anything like this. The filipino-spanish touch help so much to make anyone feel relaxed. As for my experience, having similar interior with my parents’ house in province makes me feel very nostalgic.
The Top Floor
Finally, you’ve reached the uppermost landing. The wooden living set has been the staple of 19th century intramural and still being used up to these days. however, unlike the common Filipino houses nowadays, top-most floor has the living room. Furniture is strikingly nostalgic in the architecture of the momentous Casa Manila Museum. If you thought you’ve seen all in the first 2 floors, here you’ll witness all the most luxurious antiques and furniture. Family that lived here purposely is trying to impose how wealthy they were through showcasing their extravaganza. Often times, they used the second floor as entertainment room where they do parlor games. It was the most used level in the mansion.
Highly ornate with marble table tops, China pieces, European furniture, and antiques such as the prominent looking grandfather clock. You can tell that the previous settlers were musically inclined as well seeing various instruments such as grand piano, harp, and an organ. Here we’ve listed down the spots you’ll find in the busiest level.
This is mainly their living area. Being in the highest level of the mansion makes it airy. If not in the patio, oftentimes they lounge in this spot.
Serves as their anteroom. The expansive spot reflects the family’s wealth, culture, and international travel with their opulent European décor. This is also where they usually share their meriendas (afternoon snack) with.
The dining area features a very long rectangular table that has 10-14 pax seat. Some of their porcelains, glassware, an ceramics are exhibited in this spot.
Looks just like the typical service area in the 19th century where they prepare and cook daily meals. The oven and stove’s cement-like top is made of a paste made of blended ashes and water. It is also where they utilize the gutter on the roof as rainwater colllector.
The Oratario –
Until now, most Filipinos are Catholic. That reflects in this room. This is being utilized as the prayer room to show their devotions.
Finally, the balcony. They do the laundry in this area. You can also see the rest of the vicinity from here.
I recommend going to this place with you family. Restrictions might be a little tight during the pandemic but on normal days, they allow kids and adults to get inside. Who wouldn’t want to their kids an educational tour, right?
How to get there
- Take the LRT1 to Doroteo Jose station. Then ride a jeep to Baclaran/Mabini, finally get off at Intramuros.
- Take the LRT1 to Carriedo station. The ride a jeep to Pier, finally get off at Intramuros.
- Take the MRT to Taft terminal station. Then walk through the connecting foot bridge towards LRT1-EDSA station. Then take the LRT1 to Central terminal station. Follow the LRT1 along A. Villegas until you get to Natividad Almeda-Lopez (2 blocks). Landmarks are SM City Manila, Manila City Hall, and Philippine Veterans Affairs Office. Turn right at Natividad Almeda-Lopez, and walk past Manila City Hall towards Padre Burgos (1 block). Finally, Cross Padre Burgos towards Intramuros.
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