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Seven houses-turned-museums in the Philippines by Jillian CariolaPublished: August 6, 2015Updated: September 29, 2015

Discover the rich history of the Philippines by walking along the halls of these houses turned museums.

Heritage or ancestral houses are not just structures that served as homes to Filipinos centuries ago, but are testaments to the trials and triumphs of the country throughout history. Wherever it is located, it is sure to provide stories that give us a view of what it was like to live back in the day.

Such are the ties that bind particular events to ancestral house, in fact, that many people have seen it fit to turn these structures into museums that people can visit and walk through to immerse themselves in the rich history clinging to their four walls. Here are seven of the most famous ones.

1. Aguinaldo Shrine (Kawit, Cavite)
The Aguinaldo Shrine, built in 1849, is the ancestral home of General Emilio Aguinaldo, the first president of the Philippines. Perhaps the most recognizable feature of the property is the balcony where the Philippines’ independence from Spanish rule was declared in 1898. Proclaimed a national shrine in 1964, the Aguinaldo Shrine currently contains Aguinaldo’s memorabilia and antique furniture and decoration. Parked outside the building is a car that was his personal vehicle: a Packard limousine.

2. Ilagan-Barrion House (Taal, Batangas)
Said to have been built in the 1870s, the Ilagan-Barrion Ancestral Home, also known as Galleria Taal or Camera Museum, is well known for its cameras owned by Manny Barrion Inumerable. Many of these antique pieces date back to the late 1800s.

3. Rizal Shrine (Calamba, Laguna)
Located at the corner of Mercado and Rizal Streets in Calamba, Laguna, the Rizal Shrine is a faithful reproduction of the house where national hero Jose Rizal was born. The house, which was inaugurated in 1950, displays various artifacts pertaining to the life of Rizal, including his writings, drawings, and baptismal certificate. The remains of Rizal’s parents—Francisco Mercado and Teodora Alonso—are also buried in the shrine grounds.

4. Crisologo Museum (Vigan, Ilocos Sur)
Found along Liberation Boulevard in the heritage town of Vigan, Crisologo Museum is the mansion of Floro Crisologo, who is credited for establishing the Social Security System. After his assassination in 1970, his wife decided to turn their home into a museum that will honor her late husband’s legacy. In the museum are a calesa, a library and study housing a book collection and news clippings about the Crisologos, and other antique mementos.

5. 1730 Jesuit House or Museo de Parian (Cebu City)
Hidden from plain view within the Parian district, the 1730 Jesuit House was once home to a Jesuit superior assigned in Cebu to help spread Christianity in the country. But the discovery of an old coin used during the Ming Dynasty suggests that Chinese traders settled in the area much earlier. Inside the property is the Sugbu Gallery, which showcases several artifacts unearthed during the restoration of the property.

6. Balay Negrense (Silay, Negros Occidental)
Balay Negrense, a Hiligaynon phrase meaning “Negrense House,” is a museum that depicts the lifestyle of a wealthy sugar plantation owner at the turn of the 20th century. Built between 1897 and 1901, the property was once the ancestral home of the Victor Fernandez Gaston, whose father was a pioneer of the sugar industry. All common rooms and bedrooms are dressed to replicate the period, and various memorabilia from the Gaston family are on display.

7. Atega Ancestral House (Cabadbaran City, Agusan del Norte)
The Atega Ancestral House is one of the most well-preserved properties of its kind in Agusan del Norte. Built in 1904 by Agusan’s revolutionary hero Don Andres Atega and once used as headquarters by Japanese soldiers during World War II, it has 30 rooms and contains antique furniture, personal belongings, and photographs of the clan. To this day, the home is still being occupied by Atega family members, although visitors can view the home by making an appointment.


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Source:,,,,,, Myra Siason/Flickr Creative Commons, Rachel Leyritana/Wikimedia Creative Commons

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