Simplicio Mercado-Filomena Guerrero House
(AKA Nyor Nanoy Mercado’s House)
Jose Rizal St.
original owner: spouses Don Simplicio Mercado and Doña Filomena Guerrero from Manila
present owner: Catalina Camotes-Lucero (daughter of Mariano Mercado)
Anybody just half-awake riding on or driving a car or bus must immediately have had his eyes pop up by the sight of this house. The aquamarine color sets off Nyor Nanoy’s house as you turn the curve entering the town center. It is so eye-catching that were it not for the highway traffic dragging itself into a snail pace, the ornate period house and its color would be a veritable cause of vehicular accidents.
(photo taken 24-Jan-2005 by Jeanelyn Zozobrado. See other photos of the house and Carcar at her site: pbase.com/carcaranon)
Some accounts point to Carcar mayor Mariano Mercado y Avila (1877-1944)—Nyor Nanoy–as being an architect and being the one who built this house in 1899. That makes him only 22 at the time. There is nothing impossible with that, but we should be research-bound to confirm this manner of origin.
For one thing, the present occupant is said to have declared that the original owner was a Pisyong Mercado. This must be the person, in my records, identified as Don Simplicio Mercado (y Legarda), who was from Ermita, Manila. Don Simplicio’s wife has a record of being from Binondo. And that the house was renovated by Nyor Nanoy only when he assumed ownership. Pisyong Mercado died in 1905* and how he and Nyor Nanoy were related, or by what manner the house passed ownership, is not known to the writer.
Although he is a by-word in Carcar even 65 years after he’d already died, you cannot say enough about Nyor Nanoy.
Instead, I was told that Nyor Nanoy’s wife, Flora (Nyora Lolang) Base, was a granddaughter of Bibiano Base and Felipa Villarosa. Felipa Villarosa was the mother of the two Villarosa brothers, Mariano and Pantaleon, who settled in Carcar and thus is the ancestor of all Carcar, Cebu City and maybe Bacolod Villarosas. A son of Felipa and Base was Juan Base de Villarrosa, a prominent figure in city social, business and political circles, coupled by his wife, Petrona Singson Najarro, having two prominent Cebu City bloodlines. [It is very interesting that Juan Base de Villarrosa’s descendants have cut off the surname Base from the compound surname and are now just using Villarosa. The change must have been during the American period when the last name was the surname, even though Juan was always known by the Spanish-style compound surname he used–paternal then maternal surname–as well as the double-r in Villarrosa.]
Anyway, the Mercados had no children and the bravura house passed to Nyor Nanoy’s daughter (by Eusebia Camotes), Catalina Camotes. Ms. Vivisima Alesna, now 90 and a most knowledgeable fount of Carcar knowledge, swears to Eusebia’s being one of the most beautiful women in Carcar. She had an older son Jose Camotes also by Mercado. Catalina’s husband, lawyer Santiago Villagonzalo Lucero, was a congressman at one time. The Lucero couple’s children all were nurtured in this house, and Inday Talina still lives in it with her daughter Luz, another stalwart member of the Carcar Heritage Society.
I was up that house only twice as a grader classmate of Junior Lucero and the third time was just the 2008 fiesta.
When you go up the wide staircase onto the second floor, you feel like you’ve entered the past. It’s been immaculately kept and everything in it–the living and dining rooms and the bedrooms–still has the graceful feel of a family home, and the family has resisted what must be an itch of some families all over the country to make their old house look like a well-stocked antique shop that consequently retains no character of period coherence (a result of a hodgepodge of faux antique furnitures and pieces that are so stylized that, again, they do not have any character or even hint of a characteristic of any given period and, worse, must have collected only in the past ten years). The family uses the upper story only for special occasions and gatherings, otherwise Inday Talina and Luz are content to stay in their private apartment at the ground floor.
Inday Talina, Luz and the rest of the family responsible for this must have done Nyor Nanoy proud.