The National Museum of the Philippines’ Museum From Home series, features the Jose P. Laurel Ancestral House, an example of the bahay na bato in Paco, Manila.
Dr. Jose P. Laurel was the Philippine President of the Second Republic (1943-1945), and the only President to have served in all three branches of the Government. In 1926, during his time as a Senator, he purchased a bahay na bato house in Paco, Manila for his family. It served as their residence for 29 years from 1926 to 1955 before he moved to his retirement home in Mandaluyong.
The property was built in 1864 by a Spanish Count and survived the Philippine Revolution and the Philippine-American War as well as the three strong earthquakes in July 1880 that seriously damaged many structures in Manila. The house eventually became a landmark known as Villa Peñafrancia, named after the adjacent street of Peñafrancia.
The ancestral house serves as a legacy of President Jose P. Laurel’s memory and an example of the built tradition in bahay na bato architecture of the Spanish colonial period. The house exemplifies the distinctive and impressive use of the indigenous capis shells.
The Jose P. Laurel Ancestral House is currently featured as one of Manila’s Built Heritage Structures in the National Museum of Philippines’ interdisciplinary exhibition, Placuna placenta: Capis Shells and Windows to Indigenous Artistry. When the museum doors open to the public once again, the National Museum warmly invites you to visit the exhibition located at Gallery XX, third level of the National Museum of Fine Arts. In the meantime, here is a glimpse of that exhibition: