Header Ads

Visiting the Pastor Ancestral Home in Batangas City

Sometimes, the most wondrous of God’s gifts are just hiding in plain sight. I was in Batangas City last weekend; and although my business itinerary did not originally include a guided tour, my host was hell-bent on giving me one. One simply does not say no to God’s graces.

So thus, as a totally welcome bonus to what was already a most pleasant day, I was able to visit the ancestral home of the Pastor clan of Batangas. The house is not a public shrine, mind. My host, though, had married into the clan; and happily took me inside for a look-see.

Would it be alright if I took pictures? Yes, my host assured me. The house had already been featured in magazines before. Could I write about it? He said yes to this as well.

To those who have not been to the place recently, Batangas is a city that wrestles with its provincial identity as it continues to embrace modernity. The city’s pace is brisk. The narrow roads are filled with traffic. Business and industry are growing at a heretofore unimaginable rate. People are to-ing and fro-ing to keep up. The city is growing fast into a metropolis.

Who would have guessed, therefore, that amidst this mad rush towards the future, there still exists this historic house that, while an anachronism in the modern day, is still a stark reminder to the citizens of the city of what they are and where they came from.

The house was built in 1883, a sign proudly proclaimed. Indeed, I could see in my mind townsfolk of a bygone era in their sayas and camisos ritualistically dancing the subli in veneration of the Sto. Niño in the vast courtyard to the side of the house. Or, perhaps a lovely maiden in her immaculate terno looking out from one of a long array of excellently-preserved capiz windows watching the proceedings.

To my utter delight, entering through the arched gate into a hall, I was greeted by an excellently maintained horse-drawn carriage, the enamel of which still cast a sheen even in the subtle light of the hall. This, along with two antiquated cannons, large clam shells and the classic wooden furniture immediately seduced me into conjuring images of the Spanish colonial past inside my head.

Ascending a flight of wooden steps with matching wooden rails of intricate design, I noticed that they did not creak at all. The clan, I was told, makes it a point to keep the house in pristine condition. This probably explains why it is in better shape than many government-funded national shrines that I have personally visited.

Upstairs, on the second floor, was the spacious living room as well as the dining area. I could see in my head members of a large family assembled around la mesita in the living room, living as they were long before the age of the television and entertaining themselves by talking about 19th century politics. Or, perhaps, happily enjoying a banquet around the large wooden table in the dining area…

And I do not even personally know the family… God knows what memories live on inside the heads of those who had the good fortune to have grown up and lived inside that house. The very walls of the house ooze an abundance of happy memories; else it would have fallen prey to the greatest predator of all and degenerated into decay.

Elsewhere, time takes no prisoners. This house, however, continues to resist its deathly claws because of the loving care given to it by members of the clan.

Soon, we had to depart. It was no more than a brief visit, really, made even more propitious by a visiting concert pianist who joyfully practised on a classical piano that sits right in the middle of the middle room. The dexterity of her expert fingers filled the afternoon air with lovely melodies and added more drama to what was already a dramatic and historic ambience.

We left the house by way of a stone staircase from the kitchen that was in itself a trip back in time. How many sacks of charcoal and baskets of produce from the market in days gone by were brought up to the kitchen by way of the very same staircase?

Sadly, the foot of the stairs led back to the concrete yard… and a modernity I suddenly loathed to return to…

If you like this post, please share it freely on social media. It helps to pay this site's domain name and maintenance costs.