Yap-Sandiego House: One of the Oldest Houses in the Philippines

One of the oldest houses ever existed straight up from the Spanish era is the Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House. It can be found at 155-Lopez Jaena Corner Mabini St., Parian District, Cebu. It's a short walk from the Heritage Monument and Colon Street, the oldest and shortest national road in the Philippines.

The Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House was originally owned by Don Juan Yap and Dona Maria Florido. However, the house got its name when their eldest daughter, Maria Florido Yap married Don Mariano Sandiego. Don Mariano was a Cabeza de Barangay at that time. Other siblings of Maria were Eleuterio and Consolacion Yap. After being passed down from generation to generation, Val Sandiego, a great grandson of Maria took the house at his care and preserved its relics.

Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House in Cebu City Philippines
Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House

When we got there, a woman dressed with a Maria Clara outfit greeted us. She referred us to a tour guide who didn’t hold our time that much. My mind started wandering the moment I got in and paid the entrance fee of Php 50.00. Thus, I wasn’t able to listen to what the tour guide was talking. The little information I got is that the house’s walls on the ground floor are made of coral stones and egg whites. Most of the artifacts were from the 17th to the 19th century. These are collections from different generations throughout the years.

The docent

As a second time visitor, I think this visit was better because it’s morning. The house is not much of a delight in the evening as darkness and shadows will just cover up the relics that needed every bit of my attention. The two-story house hints of some nostalgic remnants from the people living it. The ground floor has the typical dining tables with sungka which is even played until now (anyone still playing this, or just me?). There is a visitor’s area where the picture of Val Sandiego and his wife, Ofelia, is displayed on a frame. There is also a garden and a well outside the house. At the time of our visit, there was a wedding photo shoot happening so I decided to go upstairs. It gave me the idea that we have our own photo shoot too!.

by the stairs
Inside the house

There was only one room–the master’s bedroom and another dining table upstairs. It’s interesting to notice that there were 3-4 versions of dining sets. Unbelievably, according to my research, the house is 95% original and that includes the roof made of clay that withstood for more than 300 years without much renovation. Cebu's old streets can be seen from the windows upstairs.

Master's bedroom
Master's bedroom

It felt surreal to imagine that possibly, on that same day I was looking at the window, a person did the same on the same window looking at a different time or year. The house had some religious artifacts and statues. They actually looked scary more than its biblical nature. The Yap-Sandiego House also had some antique egg beaters and flatirons. It made me ask if some of these things actually work during their time. The house delightfully relived the 16th century to the modern times for me. My visit at the Yap-Sandiego House was more or less thirty minutes. It let me appreciate the historical feel that house made me experience the moment I stepped inside. It was like time travel. If given the chance, it would surely take me a whole day to get to know each artifact displayed at the Yap-Sandiego House. I do not see any reason not to know it more.

See also: Twin City Tour in Cebu

Contributing Writer: Quennie Nikki Paring
Gratis: Around the Philippines Blog would like to extend gratitude to South Shore Tours for sponsoring a Twin City Tour in Cebu for our writer. The Yap-Sandiego House was one of the stops in that tour.
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