One who talks about the Carcar ancestral houses should not fail to mention that public interest to the houses—in particular, interest coming from other parts of the province and later from the rest of the country–all started with the Kabkaban festival. The festival signaled the opening of these houses to visitors.
At the Kabkaban, the Roman Sarmiento, Florencio Noel, Maximino Noel, Mariano Mercado and Padre Anastasio del Corro houses immediately stood out, not only by virtue of their innate attractiveness but also by their owners’ willingness to undertake the hard work in sprucing up these monuments to the nines.
However, a huge gap appears between the supposed long history of the town and the meager ages of the so-called ancestral houses we see in the town today.
Take the hundred-year-old houses. All Cebu City families. And yet, many Cebu City families were already in the town before 1850. For example, Brigildo Alegrado married Carcar lass Nicolasa Alega and their older children were already born here before 1830 yet. So, where was the family’s house? And where the houses of the mestizos Sangley Mamerto Alcorcon, Leon Alcudia and Mariano Sagolili and of Marcelo Caballero from San Nicolas? The mestizo Español del Corro family was already in Carcar earlier than 1830. Again, where the family house? The Español Mariano Silva married his wife Manuela Espinosa here in 1812 yet—where is a Silva house?
Where did Tomas Osmeña stay, he who managed the Osmeña lands in the 1800’s? And most of all, where was the biggest land magnate of them all, Doña Fausta Regis’s house? And the spinster had even died and was buried in Carcar in 1899.
As far as I can determine, I will identify a house by the original owner(s)’ names. Those may not be recognizable today, but it must have been called that at that time. Anyway by which owner we call a house today may not be known still as such 50 years hence.
For instance what must have been known as Tiyoy’s house, was later known as Kadyo’s, and then Dodoy’s and now Leto’s. I’m referring of course to the “Leon Kilat” house. Even the centuries-old Yap house (or whatever prior) of Parian in the city in one fell swoop is now famously called the Yap Sandiego house, but itself laying the precedence for amendatory possibilities of future generations affixing their own etiquetas on it, too.
I so admire that the official London residence of the monarch of England is still called Buckingham Palace, for its former owner.
And, by the way I so squirm that every house is called “ancestral” when only two or three generations of a branch has ever lived there. So, I think for Carcar I call only the Roman Sarmiento and the Florencio Noel houses as ancestral–where every member of the Sarmiento and Noel families of Carcar can refer to those houses as their ancestral house, while most Aleonar cannot call my grandfather’s house as their ancestral house. It is just my grandfather’s.
Be that as it may, Carcar heritage houseowners have commissioned professional historians to trace the history of the houses for a possible book project and we wait with bated breath the documents they’ll be able to extract out of archives available to them which should show the construction, modification and ownership histories of these houses.
Anyway, these here are my own reconstructions of the histories of the houses we still have with us, making do with whatever information is out there. By “making do with whatever information–open secrets– out there”, I mean this will not be a society page glossover job. I’ll just start with our houses, then.
By the way, anybody wants to write about their house is absolutely welcome. Email me and I’ll see about your house and your writeup getting a page.
And the monuments all over town are just as attractive as the houses.