We dropped by Plaza San Luis in Intramuros after visiting the Bible Museum two weeks ago. The plan was to take new solo photos of the kids to update their artist set cards and portfolios.
But when we got there, we realized that Casa Manila was open and it was an opportunity for us to see the place and learn something new.
And we did! Thanks to the mighty Katipunero guarding the kitchen area of the beautiful Spanish house replica.
The house was fashioned after the houses of the Illustrados during the Spanish Era.
The Illustrados were the wealthy Filipinos that were granted more favor by the Spaniards than the common Filipinos a.k.a. Indios.
They lived more comfortable lives and enjoyed privileges denied most Filipinos, such as wealth, properties, and a good education.
I overheard the tourist guide telling a group of local tourists that although the Illustrados enjoyed such privileges, once they come home from studies abroad, the reality was that even though they were just as or more intelligent and skillful than the Spaniards, they were still slaves under Spanish rule.
Casa Manila is a big and beautiful house. I could imagine Kapitan Tiago, Padre Damaso, Crisostomo Ibarra and Maria Clara, lingering in the rooms, their laughter ringing in the halls, and whispers bouncing off the walls.
The little square table by the stairs was my favorite. It must be the table young people in those times would play chess at.
In one of our kids’ history books, we saw a photo of a room with a sink. I was surprised because I’ve always assumed sinks belong in the bathrooms, because, you know….water.
While the rooms in Casa Manila didn’t have sinks, they had heavy basins and pitchers for the water you’ll need to wash up. Maids would bring them in to help their rich masters clean up before their nightcaps. I think I’ve seen this in a scene in Game of Thrones, hehe.
There were many rooms, but the biggest room of all was, of course, the Master’s bedroom.
The parlour used for entertaining guests was probably one of the largest ones there.
There was a harp and a piano in it.
The parlour was a place where guests would gather after dinner for coffee or tea, and usually, a child of the host would play music as the guests marvel as such exquisite playing.
During the old times, being able to play music is an integral part of a good, well-rounded education. I read about it in a Sidney Sheldon book a long time ago, haha!
I’m not sure if the Illustrados did the same thing as the rich in Gone with the Wind, but in my head, hosts would invite guests to stay for days, especially those that traveled far to honor the invitation, hence, the number of rooms in that place.
The kitchen was my favorite room in all!
It had a huge stone oven and all over were displays of cooking tools and spices.
The above wooden slabs with carvings are their cookie cutters.
Nuns who baked cookies during the Spanish times would recite the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary while they baked.
This served as their timer.
The cookies will be ready to be taken out of the oven once their prayer ends.
They also had a refrigerator back then, or an Ice box that served as the refrigerator.
According to our Katipunero friend, if you could afford to buy ice during those times, you must be rich!
Ice were exported from Boston, Massachusettes and would take 4 months for it to make it to the shores of Manila. This means that the cost of shipping and delivery was expensive.
Toilet & Bath
I don’t know how to feel about the bath area. The tubs were beside the window overlooking the street. I’m not sure I want my neighbors to see me all dripping and naked after my bath, haha!
We’re so used to the white, porcelain bath tubs that we have now. But here’s how the bath tubs used to look:
They’re not like the bath tubs now but they are beautiful, don’t you think so?
You may be wondering how it works. Well, I think the maids filled them up with water and help in sponging their master.
The toilets were much like what Tywin Lannister was sitting on when Tyrion killed him with a crossbow, haha!
If you ask me, I think they’re much more comfortable than the ones we have now. But I bet, so much harder to clean!
Reconstruction of Spanish colonization
According to our Katipunero friend again, the houses in Intramuros were completely destroyed in World War 2. Casa Manila is only a replica model of the homes during the Spanish regime.
It was constructed in the 80’s by then first lady, Imelda Marcos. (Source: Wikipedia)
It’s beautiful to see if you understand its significance in our history.