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Friday, August 3

Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House in Cebu City (A Home in the 1600s)

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An abode in the late 17th century (1600s), the Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House in Cebu City is a must visit heritage site.

The Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House in Parian District of Cebu City is one of the oldest existing structural residential houses in the Philippines. It was constructed out of coral stones and woods, by a family of Chinese merchants sometime in the late 17th century. History tells that Parian was a busy barangay and the community houses were commonly designed with a second storey. To date, this “Balay nga Bato ug Kahoy” (house of wood and stones) stands still despite wrecks and fate of time at the corner of Mabini and Lopez-Jaena streets in Cebu City.

The well the ancestors used to have before. The water in it is not potable anymore. (Backyard of Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House)

Part 4 of Cebu Heritage Tour (A Beginner’s Guide to Cebu)

One of the many artistic works inside the museum.
The Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House was a home built by the couple Maria Florido and Don Juan Yap who had three children. They were Maria, Eleuterio and Consolacion. When the eldest daughter Maria Yap married Mariano Avendano Sandiego, a cabeza de barangay, the house became an activity center. As time passed by, this old architectural building was handed down to Val Manciano Sandiego and his wife Ofelia. Until now, the house is still fully standing on its ground and eventually it was converted into a museum. 

The house never had a major makeover. As a matter of fact, the house’s roof and wall were 95% original. It was also believed that this particular old landmark was the oldest existing Chinese house outside China. By the way, Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House is just a few steps from the Heritage of Cebu Monument and a few more ones to the Colon Obelisk Marker. In less than a minute, you can actually go to Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House from the tip of the oldest street in the Philippines.

The Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House in the Parian District of Cebu City.
Dining sets inside this ancestral house in Cebu
I was amazed that this structure withstood the destruction and havoc done by time, if ever phenomena like earthquakes happened in that part of Cebu. Imagine building a house with no particular group to engineer the entirety and it would last for more than 300 years! That was pretty amazing! When I went there I knew it was old, but never did I know it was as old as the early Spanish times.

It was okay to take pictures inside, but just be cautious. All the other items were as old as the house or just a few years younger than it and it’s a good treasure to the history of Cebu. Fine dining sets were there, and an overwhelming community of religious items (and I find it really creepy to stare at them). There was also this Sto. Niño (or a religious statue) sitting on a rocking chair.

Ceiling and chandelier inside the Yap-Sandiego Museum
The house was unbelievable as it survived that long with time. It is a living evidence of what used to be during our country’s yesteryears. One thing that I noticed (and you will eventually notice too when you go there) was the house had several altars. And in our modern day Filipino culture, a house is not a home without the altar (for Christian communities).

I find this historical landmark in Cebu City as one of the must-see attractions when you go there for a heritage tour. I remember the time when I went to Vigan and toured the different ancestral houses and museums there. I was surprised they were that old. And yet there was this older house in Cebu. And so I realized that the ancestral house of Leonor Rivera, or Jose Rizal’s frustrated love (and the Maria Clara in Rizal’s novels) in Camiling, Tarlac can be a potential historical tourist attraction in the town. I swear the house façade was still in good condition. It is a two-storey mansion and I used to see it every day before (when I’m not yet living in Baguio). Story tells that those who already visited the house of Leonor Rivera saw some of Rizal’s “gifts” to Leonor. Interesting, isn’t it?

So there, if you plan to also have your heritage tour in Cebu City, then never miss out Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House in the Parian District. The ancestral abode stands with time and thus serves as a reflector to the world that was in the past. If you’ve never been to any old house before then probably this will interest you. A house that already survived more than 300 years, Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House is older than your grandparent’s house. Travel back in time as you enter this old stone structure only in Cebu City. Museum opens from 9 AM to 6 PM for an entrance fee of P50, with contact numbers at (+63) (32) 515-9000, 513-8000 and 253-5568.
Backyard garden of Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House

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