BATANGAS | Agoncillo Heritage House (White House)
Taal Heritage Town Photowalk
A few minutes walk from the Minor Basilica, this Agoncillo Heritage House was our 2nd location to visit. This is the Casa or House of Don Gregorio Agoncillo, one of the Agoncillo's great patriach and an illustrious Batangueno. This one is being referred to as the white house. Being impeccably painted in white, it stands on a busy corner of an intersection proudly and very prominently.
The caretaker was not very accommodating, though he did answer a few questions that some of the bloggers I was with were hurling at him. I was more interested with the house as I came here not knowing what to expect. Walking the streets of Taal on the way here was the first hundred meter photo walk is looking through amalgamation of old and new architectural houses. We can't help but ogle at the Antillean houses that lined up the streets. There are also a few modern one's that stand in contrast and other worldly to old houses. Here we are, in a true blue heritage town of Taal. One has to make an appointment before entering this house, our guide has secured the time for us. So although most of us are tired from a long drive coming from Manila, its already past noon time, and most of us are eager to take our lunch.
Compared to other heritage houses we visited for this day, this White House is the one that felt more personal. Once we got past the door, we were greeted by bust sculptures of Lord and Lady of the house. The bust of Maria de Aguinaldo, sister of Gregorio and 2nd wife of Emilio Aguinaldo, also on another corner is the bust of Corazon Agoncillo which is Gregorio's daughter, not to miss is the wife of Gregorio, Mariquita Agoncillo.
Not much is written about the history of the house, but of the prominent people who had resided in it. From outside, stood in the garden is the prominent statue of the lawyer Felipe Agoncillo known to have taken part in the treaty of Paris that lead to the sale of the Philippines by Spain to America. The house is adorned for the abundance of Edwardian and Spanish inspired furniture's. Don Gregorio Agoncillo left his own signature in this house. As I mentioned above, this house felt more personal as I explored it. Portraits of the late Don and glamour shots of his family still adorned the walls in sepia and black white. His old things, shoes, his made out bed, decaying hats hung in furniture's, even old photo albums I found in one of the many intricately carved bauls (wooden boxes), canes, old umbrellas, old china wares, I've never seen any old heritage houses with its old adornments more intact and well preserved.
Don Gregorio Agoncillo had been a prominent and important man himself so its no wonder his legacy lives on in this house. He was a supporter of Philippine revolution against Spain in 1896 and was a member of revolutionary council established by General Emilio Aguinaldo. He's known all over the province as the one responsible for the modernization of the sugar industry and was the first President of 'Associacion de Agricultores de Oeste Batangas'. He also served as director of Philippine National Bank and The Manila Hotel.
The White House is well preserved, maintained by the Villavicencio's and administered by Gregorio Agoncillo Foundation. A visit is done by appointment so it's better to get in touch with Taal's Dept Of Tourism office, with a guide to assist, a photo in this heritage town would be more seamless and educating than photographing these old houses from the outside.