“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber
Cebu is fast becoming as progressive as Metro Manila, yet a few kilometers away from the giant malls lies a house that stood witness to the city’s growth. Casa Gorordo, the home of the first Filipino bishop of the Philippines, now showcases the domestic life of the well-to-do locals during the Spanish era.
Casa Gorordo’s welcoming green lawn was a misfit in a neighborhood currently brimming with houses and buildings. The azotea occupied most of the façade, with vines now providing a shade to the otherwise open terrace. Typical of most Spanish houses, the bottom floor was made of stone, while wood was used on the top floor.
Previously used as storage for carriages and horses, the ground floor was underwhelming with its scanty display of the various implements of farming. With this, I wasn’t expecting much when I climbed the stairs, yet I was pleasantly surprised. The intricate carvings found on the wall panels would surely fascinate everyone. The bedrooms were plenty, but most were simply decorated with a bed, a dresser, a chair, a chest of drawers and a shelf for pillows. The rooms were spacious though, letting the cool breeze flow freely from the outside to each part of the house.
The wide hallway was narrowed by the vast display of the different styles of chairs. Musical instruments, portraits and chests also lined the corridor. The dining room and kitchen were presented mindfully — careful not to associate any modernity to the rooms. A prayer room also sat within the house, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knew that this was a home of a bishop.
Just as I was about to exit the house, I was shocked to find a bathroom. The display consisted mostly of huge jars and large clay pots, but this was probably the first time I was seeing a bathroom in a colonial house. Usually, the hygiene-related activities were done inside the bedroom, with the lavatory and chamber pots or commode mixed with bedroom furniture.
All in all, I was fascinated not only with the size of the house, but with the tasteful furnishings found inside it. It shied from the extravagance commonly found in others of its kind and showcased a more natural atmosphere. Casa Gorordo was probably one of the best I’ve seen of ancestral houses. Make sure to visit it the next time you are in Cebu.
Craving for more historical places? Visit Yap-San Diego house nearby, with the Parian Monument in front of it.
More on Cebu next time. Happy travels!