Article by Riel A. A. Diala and Ken Tatlonghari
8 August 2021
An Artist’s Home
The Enriquez House, built in 1867, was the design of Felix Roxas y Arroyo Sr., considered to be the first Filipino architect. Roxas was also responsible for the designs of other prominent structures such as the Santo Domingo and San Ignacio Churches in Intramuros, and the Barretto Building along Escolta in Binondo.
The house served as the home of artist Rafael Enriquez y Villanueva (1850-1937), the son of Spanish immigrants Antonio Enriquez y Seguera and Ciriaca Villanueva. According to Geringer Art, it was in the University of Santo Tomas that he studied law and received his Bachelor of Arts degree. He would go on to continue his studies at the Universidad Central de Madrid at the age of 18. Six years later, he would receive his Licenciado en Derecho or Law Degree, after which he enrolled in painting at the Real Academia de San Fernando, still in Madrid (Geringer Art).
After creating portrait paintings in Paris from 1879 to 1887, he would complete his award-winning work, “La Muerte de D. Simon de Anda”, or “The Death of D. Simon de Anda”, which merited a medal at the Exposicion General de Filipinas in Madrid. He later on returned to Manila in 1896 for the execution of Jose Rizal in Bagumbayan (Geringer Art).
The house itself, then located along F. Hidalgo Street, was considered to be of immense architectural significance and grandeur. The following is an account by Maria Morilla Norton, as stated by Fernando Nakpil Zialcita and Manuel I. Tino, Jr. in Philippine Ancestral Houses (1810-1930):
“Out of it (the stairway landing) lead the stately drawing room and living rooms. The main one has double Ionic pillars similar to those in the hall. The frieze is simple but the cornice and mouldings are in elaborate Greek pattern. Opening out of these two principal drawing rooms is the gallery, or loggia, upheld by eight Ionic shafts of real beauty and marked style. The floor carries out the dignity of it all as it is of native marble. Passing through his gallery we enter the second sala, smaller in dimensions but no less attractive. Out of this open a series of rooms, as in most of the palaces of Europe one after another, in charming monotony if you will, but which is varied by the differing dimensions in each one.”
From Art School to University
The Enriquez House would become the first home of the UP College of Fine Arts, established as the Academia de Dibujo y Pintura in 1823 by Damian Domingo (UP CFA). Throughout its illustrious history, it bore witness to the development of Filipino visual artists, including the likes of Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo. It was renamed as the Escuela Superior de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado in 1891 (UP CFA).
The school eventually became one of the first degree-granting units under the University of the Philippines which was established in 1908. Rafael Enriquez, himself an alumni of the Academia de Dibujo y Pintura, became the first director of the School of Fine Arts (Olivares, 2016).
When the UP School of Fine Arts was relocated to Padre Faura in Manila and later to Diliman, Quezon City, the mansion fell into neglect.
From Obstacles to Opportunities
But the Enriquez Mansion was transferred to the Las Casas de Acuzar resort in Bagac, Bataan in 2007 and restored.
Now, it has been stated that if it wasn’t transferred there, then it wouldn’t have been restored. While that is commendable, why then was a condo permitted to occupy the original site?
First of all, a replica of the heritage house could have been rebuilt in situ, especially since it would be less expensive than a restoration. So much period architecture in Europe was lost during the Second World War but rebuilt as replicas such as the Abbey of Monte Cassino near Rome and the Red Castle of Warsaw. Do they not suffice as tourist attractions?
Second, if the replica were to be a bit inferior to the original, would that not be a better alternative to a condo standing in a district with many so heritage structures?
Case in point: The LGU of Biñan and the Alberto house — former home of Teodora Alonso, mother of Dr. José Rizal.
A Model LGU
While the replica of the Alberto house located in the city center may be inferior to the original, the city of Biñan can boast of a plaza that serves as a cultural hub attracting locals and visitors alike which translates to revenue for the city.
This example could have been applied to the heritage zone of Quiapo where one can find San Sebastian Church, Quiapo Church, the Golden Mosque, the Ocampo Pagoda and the ancestral houses of the Nakpil-Bautista, Padilla, Zamora, Paterno, Ocampo-Santiago families et al.
Do we really want Manila’s aesthetic reputation to be replaced by featureless concrete devoid of cultural significance?
We also have to consider that the Philippines was undeserving of what took place under the hands of its occupying powers during and AFTER World War II. It did not receive the same treatment regarding rehabilitation as Europe or Japan, whose buildings were impeccably rebuilt through the Marshall Plan as well as donations. But we can be proactive and at least discuss the opportunities for funding because this has not been part of mainstream Filipino consciousness.
If one truly loved Filipino culture, one would not merely accept what took place and just allow the natural course of things to take over and do what’s easy. Polish people who had already left their country contributed funds to construct a replica of their Red Castle, so why wouldn’t we be able to do the same?
Perhaps a dialogue can also take place between city hall and its cultural stakeholders who will be affected by its plans, and to prevent more of Manila’s tourism potential from decreasing.
We cannot expect there to be no new condos erected at all in Manila, but perhaps a balance between heritage and development can be achieved through dialogue between the two.
Some of us also have skills which are continually used to promote the city just out of pure love, and can be tapped by the local government so that the city can realize its full potential. What more could be achieved by a collaboration between the two?
- Aguilar, K. (18 Sept 2019). Relocated: the Manila houses at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar. The Urban Roamer.
- Geringer Art, Ltd. (n.d.). Rafael Villanueva Enriquez. Retrieved from official site.
- Olivares, J. P. (03 Sept 2016). University of the Philippines, Quezon City: In Search of the Filipino Identity, The UP Vargas Museum Collection. Lakbay ng Lakan.
- United Architects of the Philippines. (n.d.). History of UAP. Retrieved from official site.
- UP College of Fine Arts. (n.d.). History. Retrieved from official site.
- Yulo, A. (16 Apr 2018). Escolta Maestros: 6 Filipino Architects who Shaped the old CBD. BluPrint.
- Zialcita, F. N. & Tinio Jr., M. I. (1980). Philippine Ancestral Houses (1810-1930). GCF Books.
- Tales of love, lust, and murder at Las Casas Filipinas
- Heritage lost, found, and reborn: The Escuela de Bellas Artes in Bagac, Bataan
- Biñan wins 10-year fight over house of Rizal’s mother
- Royal Castle, Warsaw via Wikipedia. Retrieved 8 August 2021
Article by Ken Tatlonghari & Riel A. A. Diala
Cover art by Diego Torres.
All rights reserved.