If there was one heritage house I’ve visited in Cebu lately that made me suddenly interested [just like when I saw the Sanson y Montinola Antillan Ancestral House in Jaro, Iloilo City, it’s the Jesuit House 1730 in Parian, Cebu City. It is located inside Ho Tong Hardware along Zulueta Street, near the Parian Heritage Monument. I am fortunate to see it before the whole compound is converted into a heritage destination and the hardware shall [or may?] already be a part of its history.
Located inside high walls of Ho Tong Hardware, it can never be seen from the street. I have to get inside, pass through construction materials, implements and effects, trucks and men working. Once I got inside and listened to the narrative of my guide, on our way to the second floor, it was only then I became more interested and amazed! I was surprised, not really on what my eyes have seen but on how it was discovered. All along, this house has been utilized as warehouse of previous owners, including the present, a patriach of the Sy family of Cebu, until he discovered while reading some Jesuit history books in a reunion at the Ateneo in 2004 – the very house that served and serving as “bodega” was the home of the Jesuit Superior in Cebu until they were expelled by the Spaniards out from the country in 1768! Built in 1730, the Spaniards auctioned the house to its known first known owner, the Alvarez family and has passed on to different owners, one of them the Villa family, until it was acquired by its present owner, the Sy family. [See more photos of the Jesuit House 1730 in my Flickr]
The entrance to the house is the back door. Looking at the house before I entered, there appears to be 2-entrances. The one to the right is the entrance of the tour [House A], the left being the exit [House B]. The two houses is connected by a covered bridge in the second floor. On the first floor, it seemed like an ordinary museum to me with some written facts about Chinese merchants’ migration to the country, encased replicas of boats they used, old picture of Parian, etc.
Once we got to the main entrance going to the second floor on the other side of the house, my guide started to narrate its history. The staircase leading to the second floor is already a replica but the whole structure which includes the wall, roof, floor and posts are all original. The fixtures and other accessories inside belong to the owner as part of his personal collection. Honestly, even only with the structure, I was already entertained and informed, again not on what I saw but in the manner on how it was discovered! Add to that its location-I have not seen of late a heritage house of such significance inside very uncommon premises. [See more photos of the Jesuit House 1730 in my Flickr]
As of my visit, a replica of Colon Street was being constructed around the compound with the intention to convert the whole place as a heritage destination. I applaud the present owner for preserving the house and his plan to make improve even better the whole compound but I started to ask myself – would the appreciation be the same? Or would it be some other heritage houses that have undergone full make-over? It’s different when you see a thing of great significance the way it was and the way is should really be. I like it the way it is now but I am not the owner.
Visit Jesuit House 1730 before the hardware is taken out. The charm is there. The thought of a challenge to maintain the house even with it is even more interesting.
Caveat: This is my personal account as of date of writing only. Things may have changed in time.
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