Arts & Culture

Top 10 Heritage Stories of 2017

With a renewed interest in heritage, our readers loved a converted art deco apartment, an army navy club-turned hotel, and the Metropolitan Theater

Photography: Jilson Tiu & Toto Labrador

Heritage sites in our country are in a sticky bind. There is a drive to conserve and restore, but more often than not, commerce and ignorance get in the way, and the building faces the wrecking ball.

Thankfully, a new generation of Filipinos is showing appreciation for heritage buildings and ancestral homes, many of them taking to social media to rally against a demolition, while others actively are participating in its restoration and conservation.

The interest in Filipino heritage is strong, and most of the articles in this roundup are in our top 100 stories of 2017. So read on, visit the sites, and be inspired to protect a heritage structure near you.

10. This Quiapo Tour Will Make You Love Old Manila Again

Intrepid heritage blogger Glenn Martinez went beyond Quiapo Church and its arbularyos and further into the colorful, fascinating, and slightly dangerous den of old Manila. Here, he discovered heritage treasures hidden in the detritus, such as the Ocampo Pagoda, Bahay Nakpil-Bautista, and the Casa Consulada de Monaco.

Click here to see more photos and view the complete feature. 

9. A Primer on Iloilo Mansions

Right at the time of the Iloilo-mansion controversy of mayor Jed Mabilog in September 2017, designer PJ Aranador posted on his Facebook timeline that “a six- to eight-bedroom house is not unusual in Iloilo,” and that Ilonggos—who are so used to seeing sprawling mansions left and right—wondered what the fuss was all about. The controversy led to this roundup of extremely breathtaking and beautiful ancestral mansions of prominent families such as the Lopezes, Ledesmas, and the Montinolas.

Click here to see more photos and view the complete feature. 

8. 5 Heritage Houses That Are Worth Visiting

Many Filipino heritage homes lie neglected and in clear danger of facing the wrecking ball. So it’s extremely satisfying to encounter ancestral homes that have been preserved, or adaptively reused, such as La Casita Mercedes, which was transformed into a bed-and-breakfast.

Click here to see more photos and view the complete feature. 

7. In Photos: A Peek at the Renovation of the Metropolitan Theater

With the restoration of the Metropolitan Theater in full swing, the NCCA opened the theater for its 86th anniversary in December 2017, and writer Chinggay was there to discover its developments. With the revamped lobby, carefully restored artwork and ornaments, and structural repairs, the future looks bright for the Met.


Click here to see more photos and view the complete feature. 

6. Bored on a Long Weekend? Take This Quick Manila Tour

Intramuros is a convenient and relatively safe area to go on a one-day heritage tour, since it’s got multiple museums and sites in one spot (or shall we say, the entire walled city is a heritage site). Aside from the usual Fort Santiago tour, new museum displays such as the medicinal plants exhibit at Museo San Agustin and the Bambike ecotour provide fresh activities for families. So this weekend, bring the kiddos, put on the sunscreen, and hop on a kalesa.

Click here to see more photos and view the complete feature. 

5. The Former Army Navy Club is Now The Rizal Park Hotel

Those who know of the history of the Army Navy Club feared that the entire building was on the brink of being torn down, with the entire site being a mere shell back in 2014.

Writer Maita de Jesus, who had seen the formerly disheveled heritage site at its worst, was pleased to find out that the former club was now a beautifully repurposed hotel that overlooks Rizal Park and Manila Bay.

Click here to see more photos and view the complete feature. 

4. It Only Costs P350 a Day To Hold Office in this Heritage Building

In this article, it says that social media had a key part in reviving the old Escolta district, with Gen Y visitors flocking the area during events and sales. The group 98B COLLABoratory—who were instrumental in reviving the area—chose the 1928 First United Building as their headquarters. They then established what Millennials wanted: coworking spaces and coffee. The coffee was addressed by super-hip café The Den on the ground floor, and the First Coworking Community was set up on the 5th floor of the 89-year-old building.

 Click here to see more photos and view the complete feature. 

3. 10 Haunted Heritage Houses and Sites in the Philippines

Released just in time for Halloween and All Saints’ Day, this piece by Martinez documents his brave visits (with son Joaquin in tow) to possibly the creepiest spots in the country, from war-torn Corregidor to the Balanga Torture Chamber located in the middle of an elementary school. Our favorite: the hair-raising choir loft vestibule in San Agustin where a friar was murdered in the 1600s.


Click here to see more photos and view the complete feature. 

2. 12 Hauntingly Beautiful Photos of the Metropolitan Theater

In late 2016, volunteers had just cleaned up the Metropolitan Theater, and restoration under the NCCA was about to commence. Before the 1930s theater was closed for construction works, the Real Living team went in to photograph the theater in all its decaying Art Deco glory. Readers were curious about the site, as it had lain abandoned for decades. (An interesting side note: the team photographed the theater in almost total darkness!)

Click here to see more photos and view the complete feature.  

1. Would You Believe That There are Cool Apartments in this Old Building in Manila?

Our most-viewed heritage article of the year (it is, in fact, one our top 20 stories of the year!) was about the Laperal Apartments along CM Recto, Manila. This Art Deco wonder from the 1940s—once the residence of society city dwellers—was gutted out a few years ago, and restored into the Youniversity Suites, a rental apartment catering to college students and young workers.

The apartments contain so many cool features that appeal to the Gen Y crowd, such as a popular coffee shop, an Airstream trailer, and even a German fighter plane as design details.

Click here to see more photos and view the complete feature. 

More on

These Photos of Philippine Architecture from the 1960s Show That Great Design is Timeless

The Movie Ang Larawan Gives Us a Glimpse of Manila Before The War

The Rizal Monument Gets A Makeover


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