Florencio Noel-Filomena Jaén Ancestral House
312 (367 old no.) Sta. Catalina St.
Original house and lot owners Jacinto Aldocente-Benita del Corro
Renovated by Noel: ca. 1873: Segundo Alesna (carpenter, Carcar), Críspulo Zábate (carpenter, b. San Nicolás, res. Carcar), Celestino Sarmiento (carpenter, b. Cebu City, res. Carcar), Lito [?] Alesna (mason and carpenter, Carcar), Pelagio Gutiérrez (stone-cutter).
Present owner: Jerry Martin Noel Alfafara
The original house that previously stood on this property belonged to the couple Jacinto Aldocente and Benita del Corro. Florencio Noel bought the house and solar from them on 27-Jan-1873 for 160 pesos. Obviously, a complete renovation must have been carried out because the sale described the original house only as tabla y nipa –not the coral stone edifice standing now.
Don Florencio Noel y Mercado was born in Cebu City but his wife, Filomena Jaén was born in Carcar in 1854. Don Florencio (Kapitan Insyong) was the son of Benedicta Noel, mestiza Sangley, by, according to family and town rumor, a Spanish fraile from whom must have been inherited the unmistakable Kastila feature of the Noel family of Carcar that is still recognizable in his descendants. The Noel families around Parian and T. Padilla and who have also migrated to Tuburan are related to each other and presumably to Benedicta. The Mercado maternal name he used is said to be his mother’s maternal surname instead, so his mother must have been actually Benedicta Noel y Mercado. Florencio was always racially classified as mestizo Sangley in the church records.
Add to the looks that Doña Filomena was also mestiza-looking and was probably also a daughter of another Spaniard or mestizo Español. (At least, her baptismal record gives her mother as Victoria Jaén of Cebu City and her father as “unknown”). Filomena’s grandparents were Valentín Jaén and Barbara Cui.
Florencio Noel earned for his certainly the most prominent reputation for a family in the town. Don Florencio first became gobernadorcillo of the town in 1879, and he and three of his sons—Vicente (who also became a Provincial Board Member), Mariano and Maximino (who also became a congressman)–ruled the town, in-between some gaps, for a total of about 32 years. No other family has come close to that hold on power. The Noel-Mercado political rivalry probably started with a land dispute but it became the life-long career of political rival Mariano Mercado to poke at that Noel factor to try to dissipate the power. The propaganda may have succeeded to some degree because after Mercado died during the war, the Noel hold of the town also ended with Maximino Noel.
Although still wielding political power because of their large landholding and number of tenants, but to this day no one in the family has decided to run for town office anymore. However, a great-grandson named after him, Florencio Garcia Noel, is presently a congressman representing the Leyteño party list An-Waray.
Of their 11 children, Florencio and Filomena only had five sons who raised their own families. A daughter, Josefa, married the music maestro Brigido Lacandazon but the couple had no children. Like many ancestral houses where the youngest is the last to remain in the house, it was also true with the Noel house. It was commonly accepted that the house would go to Inday Rita Noel.
Her immediate older brother, Manuel, survived her however. Ondo Manuel and his first family lived in the house but when he remarried, he lived with his new family elsewhere. He survived his younger sister Rita and the present holder of the house, Jerry Martin Noel Alfafara, is Ondo Manuel’s grandson.
Per Records: The tabla y nipa house Florencio Noel bought from Aldocente in 1873 was described in the protócolos de Cebu as 5×3 brazos and its solar as 15×24 brazos. The property was bound on the north by the house of the then late D. Apolonio Cuison (a gobernadorcillo decades before Florencio), on the South by Don Norberto Barceló, on the east by calle Real [now Sta Catalina St.] and the west by a certain Montano [probably Lapasaran—ed.].
The tabla y nipa must have been demolished to give way to the grand coral-stone house that still stands today. In applying for a title to the property in 1888, Noel declared that that he had constructed the house of strong materials, wood floor and posts, and stone ground floor with azotea, and bedrooms.
In this second (8-Jun-1888) declaration the property’s boundaries were now described as East by Calle de Latid; on the derecho to the Norte: solar of Maria Rosales; on the izquierdo to the South: D. Pedro Barcenilla; detras to the West: Liceria [Licerio ?] Alpápara.