so when i say i love to visit museums, it doesn’t necessarily mean that i love to look at well-preserved antiques or stare at polished wooden floors with amazed eyes for the past long gone. because feeling is more my style — trying to get the vibe of what it must have felt like living in a grand house during a rather conservative era. if i was reincarnated from the spanish period, what was my social standing then? was i one of the rich man’s beautiful daughters choked by the conventions of high society? or was i just a poor, gorgeous maiden plowing the sugarcane fields while the hacienderos and the friars eyed me with lust? (change the angles of the story all you want. i would still be one hot momma. lol.)
balay ni tana dicang is a 127-year old house located in talisay, negros occidental. about one or two blocks away from the town proper where tricycle drivers crowded around us when we asked how we can get to the museum. needless to say, everyone in that circle — ram, me, the local drivers, and some curious local civilians — looked confused. ram and i didn’t know how to get there; the drivers wondered where in talisay that place could be; the civilians bewildered that such a museum even existed. yep, we caused quite a ruckus right in their own hometown.
only one driver was brave enough to take us on his tricycle after he concluded that he knew (or rather, he thought he knew) where the place was and off we went — to get lost together, the three of us. a situation which kind of bonded us in a cosmic kind of way. the parting was hard, especially so when he charged us double for an otherwise pointless ride had we not finally found the place that happened to be a stone’s throw away from where we started.
from what i learned, the 127-year old house is just a toddler since it first opened its doors to the public a couple of years ago. so not everyone knows about it yet. at least, not manong driver. it was actually my privilege, as a tourist in his hometown, to introduce him to balay ni tana dicang.
there wasn’t really anything much to see in the first floor of the house. initially i was disappointed. (i paid a hundred bucks just to see old tiles, a red bamboo chair, and a gorgeous stair balustrade made of some hardwood?!) but boy, was i wrong! the second floor was just grand and the stories amusing! but i’ll get to that later. because right now, i’m still staring at that red bamboo chair, which, in the olden days, was where the owner’s daughter would sit, carried by workers across the field so she wouldn’t soil her feet with mud.
more than the expensive-as-hell furniture or dazzling chandeliers and floors, balay ni tana dicang has a wonderfully juicy story. of how the woman of this house endured years of marriage sleeping in different beds in one room yet somehow managed to create 17 children. and of how, right in the middle of the master’s bedroom, sits an altar complete with prayer kneelers. not to mention the huge crucifix on her headboard. why do old houses have altars everywhere? or beds with huge crucifixes on the headboard? like the room is just full of guilt and everywhere you look you are reminded to kneel down and repent. but that’s just me feeling. and i could be feeling wrong. but it’s kind of hard to feel wrong with the religious icons staring at you with monalisa smiles like they know your deepest, darkest secret.
which was probably why she had to have a secret door on the floor under her bed to escape when the stares got a little bit too intimidating. lol. i’m kidding. she had that secret passageway, alright, but it was to escape from unwanted visitors. she was an important woman and politician, after all.
i loved the silhouette created by the light from the dining room window, contrasted by the healthy greens of the leaves of trees outside. just as i loved loved loved the design of the wooden whatchamacallit that separated the dining room from the caida — carved hard wood with intricate loops that reminded me of chocolate pretzels. i didn’t dig the decorative moldings/ventilation system in the ceiling though, shaped in the form of little male organs in groups of three. a celebration of fertility, perhaps?
don’t you just love the criss-cross design of the windows? i couldn’t get enough of it. because the whiteness and the brownness of the paint somehow complemented with the overall look and i couldn’t, for the life of me, decide which makes which stand out — the white or the brown? love it!
and then there were, of course, the cooking implements in the kitchen. the different jars of clay. the wooden ice box which paved the way for the invention of modern-day refrigerators. and there was the bathroom. or rather, what was left of the bathroom. of which the only form of drainage system involved having the bodily excretions dumped directly one floor below, which happened to be a pig pen. the whole drainage thing is quite a mystery, really. something i don’t wanna waste my time pondering on because logic would take me to the direct assumption that the lechons they had during fiestas once lolled lazily around in a pile of shit.
oh, and no, i’m not in the habit of taking pictures of holes in the floor unless they have at least some significance to warrant a shot. so the story of that hole there? that’s where kapitana dicang would peep through to see if her men were working twice as hard as they claimed to be. (she was one tough cookie. she really was. if i were half as strong as her, i’d have been a gladiator with that “bring it on” attitude ready to take on a fight. any fight. no kidding. but as it is, i’m just a f*cking marshmallow.)
the living room, if you can call it that, was just plain grand. nothing but the best for the number of small-time politicians who frequented her humble abode. simple folks with forgettable names the likes of Manuel L. Quezon and Sergio Osmeña, Sr. (who?!) no biggie. just the second and third president of the Philippines.
and no, lola is not trying to make an avant-garde fashion statement with those sunglasses. she had cataract. seriously. and whether or not it had something to do with that peephole is beyond me.