05 May2010


A short drive from Osang’s in Baclayon, following our unusual lunch at the Peacock Garden Resort, put us at the doorsteps of the Clarin Ancestral Home. The Clarins were a prominent Boholano family who had several family members serve in government, and this particular predominantly wooden home dates back to the mid 19th century. Much more flattering photos of the property and more historical detail are available at this site.


Bohol is such an interesting local and foreign tourist destination because it not only offers the beach and sea, superb diving, watersports, etc. But it also has markets, old homes, historical churches, structures, natural wonders, handicrafts, etc. for a broader holiday experience. While I thought it was wonderful that the Clarin family has opened up this house to the public, and it certainly has many features that bring you back a century and a half, to a lifestyle long gone, I was disappointed to see how much of the house was “restored” with so much disregard for the landmark status that it has. I know, I know, it costs megabucks to do historical preservation right, and who has that kind of money these days, so I am not faulting anyone, just lamenting the state of affairs…


At roughly 160 years old, it’s not surprising that things have fallen into disrepair. The gaudiest homes in Makati and Greenhills these days barely make it 40-50 years before they are razed to the ground and replaced by an even more gaudy model. The proud bones of the Clarin home are there, wonderful wood detailing on the exterior of the home, particularly on the second floor, the traditional living area. The wide hardwood floor planks are GORGEOUS…


Interior walls are painted a bizarre shade of light green, and I would find it hard to believe that approximated anything like the original walls of the home. The ceiling, recently attacked by termites, has been replaced with wood that looks like it was bought from the nearest hardware store at the lowest possible cost. The glaring contrast between the ceiling and floors just makes you feel a bit worse that we are all as a nation unable to preserve bits and pieces of our heritage with more care. And yes, I understand this is a private property, so I know they SHOULD ideally have help from others to assist in the upkeep of this landmark…


The half a dozen or so four-poster antique wooden beds were simple and beautiful, reflective of an austere Boholano aesthetic. My grandparents hailed from a coastal town several more kilometers down the same road from the Clarin home, but their ancestral summer home was completely destroyed during World War II, and my grandparents brutally executed by the Japanese. My mother and her brothers and sisters always described fond memories of a languid lifestyle from a different era, so scenes like this, rooms like this, do in a way take me back over a century to times I never had a chance to experience…


Despite the heat outdoors and temperatures nearing 95F, the large rooms, with nearly double height ceilings and wide windows were rather comfortable, maybe 10 degrees cooler indoors.


A surprisingly oddball item on display was a stuffed porcupine, apparently caught in Palawan a century ago… I DIDN’T KNOW WE HAD PORCUPINES in the Philippines! :)


The kitchen of the home was HUGE. Bigger than lots of the bedrooms. That’s my kind of house… It was mostly empty, however, and I would have loved to see more of the original cooking stations, utensils, etc. if they had been preserved.


The dining room featured a large dining table with several “leaves” so that the table could be expanded if there was lots of company.


And finally, after dining, you can watch some television in this circa mid-20th century television, are you old enough to remember one of these? The ground floor of the Clarin home has been converted into a fairly large cafe/restaurant, and wanting to contribute something to the upkeep of the ancestral home, despite a hefty lunch, we decided to stay for an early merienda, up next. :)



  1. rudy says:

    Homes like these are one of the reasons i keep returning to Philippines! I once stayed in a huge heritage mansion in Vigan which had been turned into a budget hotel (not a happy sight), and was hosted at dinner in the parish house, Molo Church, a crumbling but huge heritage mansion. Both mansions complete with capiz shell windows frames, the extremely big sturdy floorboards, old furniture and one even had wooden pillars the size of tree trunks! If only money permitted….*dreams away*

    May 5, 2010 | 9:54 am


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  3. chinachix says:

    The vignette on the first photo is like something I’ll find at Anthropologie. I didn’t realize Bohol has its share of well-preserved heritage homes. Thanks for sharing!

    May 5, 2010 | 10:46 am

  4. kate says:

    Hello MM :) I’ve had the pleasure of having dinner a couple years back at this place :) The house looks lovely but a bit creepy at night though (especially the part with the old clothes on mannequins!). I think I should also visit in the morning. Thanks for sharing your photos.

    May 5, 2010 | 11:07 am

  5. esther says:

    we had that TV when I was kid!! But ours was bigger and really heavy. it was fun opening and closing the doors. back then, i preferred watching cartoons on that TV instead of our colored TV. just for the nostalgia.

    May 5, 2010 | 1:10 pm

  6. junb says:

    Sayang di ba !!!! I do miss my grandparents house too with all the fruit bearing trees, chicken, turkeys and rice fields around it. Sadly it also suffer the same fate of most of ancestral house in Phils. where the new generation tear it down to build a modern house :(

    May 5, 2010 | 3:01 pm

  7. denise says:

    Hi MM! have you heard of the Acuzar Heritage Village? The owner bought and restored old houses from all over the Philippines and built the “village” in my hometown in Bataan.

    here’s the link:

    May 5, 2010 | 6:07 pm

  8. ConnieC says:

    Yes MM, the nice thing about the nipa thatched roof as we see in this lovely ancestral home is that it does not attract heat, albeit a fire hazard. In Palawan, you see homes especially in the west coast where bamboo is quite abundant use tadtad as roofing material from split bamboo which also provides a very cool roofing. The layered installation shows the nodes beautifully on the underside. Sadly, the extreme weather changes have in recent times not allowed them to last the usual 10-15 years as prolonged rains leave them damp and susceptible to fungal invasion and rot. Now, if only there was better technology to preserve them and prolong the use of this very renewable and green material.

    MM, you are as tall as the beautiful aparador and the floor planks are as wide as your legs are long!

    May 5, 2010 | 7:24 pm

  9. Nadia says:

    Yes, we do have one species of porcupine endemic or found only in the Philippines, particularly only in Palawan, hence its common name the ‘Palawan Porcupine’. Its scientific name is Hystrix pumila. It is relatively common in the lowland forests of Palawan and I remember seeing it several times during my field work when I was living there a few years back. Despite being common on the island however, its endemicity makes it a protected species under the Wildlife Act of the Philippines. In other words, if you see any ‘freshly’ stuffed local porcupines anywhere else, then those were probably killed or hunted illegally. The one you saw at the Clarin House doesn’t count since it was hunted way before people even thought of conserving endemic animals and plants.

    May 5, 2010 | 9:45 pm

  10. Fred says:

    -double post- sorry MM

    May 5, 2010 | 11:10 pm

  11. Fred says:

    We visited this place last 2008. I tried out the “impolite chair”. It was very cool and comfortable, definitely better than a cushy leather chair, especially in our warm climate.

    There is another ancestral house / museum near Quiapo, but the name escapes me. That is also worth a visit. The curator told us there were a lot of old pre ww2 houses nearby that had
    gorgeous woodwork in them. No effort is being done to restore or at least salvage them.

    May 5, 2010 | 11:11 pm

  12. wanderingfoodie says:

    hi mm! my town is 30 mins away from the clarin ancestral too. sometimes when we go to tagbilaran, we drop by there and eat our merienda. i noticed that old houses look similar. the walls and floors….my lolo’s house is kinda like that but it was built 1930s. the Clarin House is older than my lolo’s house.

    May 5, 2010 | 11:29 pm

  13. millet says:

    is this the one right behind the tagbilaran church? the one close to the shore? i love the solihiya (cane weaving) in the furniture. the beds are beautiful.

    May 6, 2010 | 12:16 am

  14. quiapo says:

    It is heartening to see our heritage is being preserved, even though at a budget. Some of the wood used in construction of old houses and furniture is from trees that are nearly extinct. Denise, thanks for the link. In Lipa the home of Segundina Katigbak has been preserved as a similar museum.
    I wonder if there is an association promoting preservation of old homes and furnishings.

    May 6, 2010 | 5:13 am

  15. Betchay says:

    I love looking at old houses and art deco buildings.It’s really sad that financing the restoration is not the only problem but a sense of culture and history is lacking in many of our countrymen nowadays.Why cannt we be like Singapore who really make an effort to preserve their heritage houses?And to think that we have an older and more colorful history than theirs.Look what happen to the art deco Jai Alai building and what about the deteriorating Metropolitan Theatre? Tsk!tsk!tsk! The Government should be more supportive.

    May 6, 2010 | 7:40 am

  16. marcial bonifacio says:

    classic yung tv nato! used to watch voltes v in this tv/wood cabinet..nice to know that this mansion is still preserved, love to visit this place someday.=D

    May 6, 2010 | 9:54 am

  17. wanderingfoodie says:

    @millet: no, it is located in Loay, Bohol. if you go river cruise, you’ll pass by this house.

    May 6, 2010 | 2:12 pm

  18. tes says:

    the balay na tisa in carcar is more well preserved than this house, but then it all depends on descendant’s priority and extra resources.

    May 6, 2010 | 8:18 pm

  19. denise says:

    you’re welcome quiapo! the owner is the CEO of San Jose Builders

    May 7, 2010 | 3:26 am

  20. eduardo clarin says:

    taga ilocos norte ako dyan din ang ancestral home namin

    Oct 3, 2010 | 8:55 am

  21. alonabeach says:

    @millet : the house behind the Tagbilaran Church is the Rocha-Suarez Ancestral Home.i think it is also a Heritage House and much older than that of the Clarins

    Oct 28, 2010 | 1:41 pm


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