A Primer On Iloilo Mansions
Does living in a mansion instantly make you a criminal? It could simply mean that you can afford to live in one.
You can keep that in mind when discussing the issue with Iloilo City mayor Jed Mabilog being accused by President Rodrigo Duterte of being one of the 150 government officials involved in illegal drugs. Mayor Mabilog’s two-storey house located by the Iloilo River was the subject of a National Bureau of Investigation probe to see if there is any supposed connection to narcopolitics.
As seen in the photos in this news story, in spite of its stately exterior appearance, the house seems to be simply furnished inside, with spaces associated with upper-middle-class families (and no Pablo Escobar drug-kingpin-level extravagances, such as Olympic-size swimming pools, in our opinion).
In a recent Facebook post, lifestyle designer PJ Aranador pointed out that Mayor Mabilog’s home is in no way excessive, at least when compared to the other ancestral homes in Iloilo City. In the post, Aranador writes: “A six- to eight-bedroom house in not unusual in Iloilo. Why the issue about the three-bedroom house of Mayor Jed Mabilog is dragged into this drug issue, for Ilonggos it seems odd. Perhaps because when we look at the Mayor’s house, in Iloilo it is, sorry for the word, normal.” In the same post, Aranador shows a collage of Iloilo’s famous mansions and heritage homes.
“Any upper middle class family like the Mabilogs can always dream for a house after working for so many years,” Aranador continues in his post.
Iloilo is famous for its dozens of beautiful ancestral homes and mansions. Because of the sugar industry and the proliferation of textile and export businesses from the 1800s onwards, prominent families such as the Lopezes, Ledesmas, Montinolas, and more had put up one mansion after the other in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Let’s take a peek at four of those many famous mansions.
This 1920s mansion (also called Molo Mansion), with its impressive circular portico and balcony along Locsin Street in Molo, was neglected for several years. In a bold adaptive-reuse move, the mansion was eventually transformed into a museum and venue for showcasing Ilonggo products and creations.
This was originally the Lopez Heritage House in Jaro, Iloilo. It was named after Don Vicente Lopez’s eldest daughter Nelly Lopez. The mansion shows Beaux Artes-style detailing that was typical in the early 1920s, such as decorative pilasters, neoclassic swags, urns, and other such ornamentations. The beautifully preserved mansion can now be used as an events place and wedding venue.
Built in 1937 by sugar baron Don Emiliano Lizares, this is one of Iloilo City’s most imposing mansions with its richly ornamented façade—a mélange of various European styles—and prominent staircase tower. It is now the Angelicum School.
This stunning, four-storey mansion in La Paz, owned by former vice president Fernando Lopez, is totally unlike the other ornate, classical-style mansions in Iloilo. Designed in the 1930s by architect Fernando Ocampo Sr., the mansion is built in the Art Deco Streamline Moderne style, with its sleek, curved walls and eaves, and horizontal linear ornamentation. It was called a “Boathouse” because of its resemblance to a battleship with portholes.
In direct contrast to the President’s claim that Iloilo is the “most shabulized city” about a year ago, Iloilo is considered by the architectural and urban planning industries as a model city for urban regeneration with the rehabilitation of the Iloilo River Esplanade, adaptive reuse of the Art Deco Jaro municipal hall into the National Museum, and other various heritage revival and infrastructure projects. The Arkitektura Festival of Architecture and the Arts was recently hosted here to highlight is development, and lectures, exhibits, and heritage tours were held in the city from August 31 to September 3, 2017.
Main photo is from the Molo Mansion Facebook page.
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