A Heritage Home Restored to its Former Glory

From an office to a cozy home, this bahay-na-bato is reconstructed to save a piece of Vigan’s rich heritage

Original Article: Coni Tejada Photography: Ocs Alvarez/ACME Visual Productions Styling: Gwyn GS Guanzon

Restoring a heritage home to its former glory not only takes a lot of time and money, it also entails a good amount of patience and vast reserves of persistence. That's what businessman and public servant Roland Singson found out.

About 15 years ago, his father acquired a bahay-na-bato in the UNESCO heritage city of Vigan. After being rented out as an office space by a friend, however, it fell into disrepair. Wanting a house that he could call his own, Ronald took on the restoration project himself. Planning took the better part of six months. Every detail had to be submitted to the Vigan Heritage Commission, which it in turn forwarded to the National Historical Institute in Manila for approval.

The reconstruction itself was another story. The house was stripped to its shell; its foundation reinforced with steel and covered with concrete. All these took three years. The result is a bahay-na-bato which respects its storied heritage, but also gives a nod to its new owner's distinct personality.

Original article by Coni Tejada. Styling by Gwyn GS Guanzon. Photographed by Ocs Alvarez / ACME Visual Productions. 

Read the original article ("Metamorphosis") in the April 2007 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App ( now! Log on to for more details.  

Formal Living Room A Venetian mirror, a prized keepsake passed on to the owner by his mom, takes a prominent position in the living room. Beneath it is a kamagong console topped by family photos in silver frames.
Vintage Pieces Also on display are pieces from the owner's collection of silverware and cobalt glass.
Sitting Room The lower level retains the use of heavy wooded shutters. In the midst of colonial-style pieces is an authentic Indian bench.
Altar At the foot of the main staircase is a lit mosaic tile of Jesus Christ that serves as the house's altar. The owner bought the piece from his dad's Italian friend who said that the piece was from Murano.
Second Floor Sitting Area A quaint sitting area welcomes guests at the second floor. Hanging on the wall is an oil painting of the house done by Ilocano painter David Pichay. The long narra bench below the painting was featured in the book Household Antiques and Heirlooms by Felice Sta. Maria and Ben A. Laxina.
Design Detail The guest rooms downstairs feature unique locks that the owner saved from the old municipal hall.
Master Bedroom A kamagong reproduction of what the owner calls an atay bed, named after the famed furniture maker Ah-Tay, is seen in the center of the room.
Master Bedroom Detail Most of the owner's gadgets are also seen in the room - such as his personal computer and electronic equipment.
Guest Room The owner slept in each of the guest rooms to see if there was something wrong with the room. He discovered that the white walls were boring and impersonal. He decided to paint each room in a different color to give it character and a homey feel.

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