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Modern Bayanihan: Moving a 99-Year-Old House

An amazing story of how an ancestral house in Navotas gets moved (piece by piece!) to Antipolo City

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Original Article: Amillah Rodil Photography: Dakila Angeles Pictorial Direction: Gwyn Guanzon

Don Ramon Santos built a grand, three-story bahay-na-bato-style house for his family on Calle Real, Navotas, in 1917. The prominent third-floor balcony overlooked Malabon River and its environs. Almost a century later, the same balcony looks out onto Ortigas area and Makati. This isn’t Navotas, but Antiplo, where Don Ramon’s house was relocated, bit-by-bit, each floor plank, joist, and window numbered and reconstructed.

The hardbound book Tahanan: A House Reborn lovingly documents the amazing history and reconstruction of this ancestral home. It is the first Philippine rebuilding to be documented and published. “The house was falling apart,” says Mike Santos, grandson of Don Ramon. “It trembled whenever trucks passed by.” The frequent floods also prompted their move, but instead of just packing their belongings, the family brought the whole house with them. Architect Bobby Quisumbing helped restore it for modern living.

Don Ramon’s house is as grand as when it was built, but instead of presidents (Manuel L. Quezon visited the patriarch), now Mike and his sister Didi’s children have a run of the place. The ground floor is where Didi lives, and functions as an independent unit with its own living areas, kitchen, and bedrooms. The beautiful sala is retained on the second floor, and looks much as it must have been a century ago. The third floor serves as Mike’s private quarters.

The Santos house is a testimony to Don Ramon’s descendants’ pride in their heritage and will to preserve it, and it resonates with a new lease on life for possibly another century. 

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