Contact Us
Century International Hotels



Success story 1: Bahay Nakpil-Bautista in Quiapo
Source: Inquirer
Author: Augusto Villalon
Date: 1999-07-12
Today this column starts a series on 'Conservation Success

Stories,' to prove that not all is being lost in Manila and that

there is some heritage that is being conserved well.

The first success story is the Bahay Nakpil-Bautista.

Recent construction, development, traffic, and the crush of

Quiapo population have dwarfed the Nakpil-Bautista house, just

a block from Quezon Boulevard and practically in the shadow of

Quiapo Church. Urban decay has squeezed the house between

narrow Calle Barbosa (now A. Bautista Street) and the murky

estero behind it.

That the house manages to still stand, that it has been

maintained by the Nakpil family as when they lived in it, and

that it is open to the public as a "house with memories of the

Katipunan" makes it one of Manila's conservation success


Indeed the house does have strong links to the Katipunan, as

Dr Fernando N Zi lcita explains. It was built in 1914 by the

successful physician, Dr Ariston Bautista and his wife Petrona

Nakpil, a childless couple who invited her two brothers and their

families to share the house.

One of the brothers was Julio Nakpil, the Vice-President

Supremo of the Katipunan and a pianist who composed patriotic

pieces such as Marangal na Dalit ng Katagalugan. He married

Gregoria de Jesus, the young widow of Andres Bonifacio, who

organized the women of the Katipunan to join the struggle. As

parents of six children (National Artist for Architecture Juan

Nakpil is one of them), they settled into a domestic existence at

the Nakpil-Bautista house.

Descendants remember their privileged days of growing up

around one of the best tables in Manila, living in a house where

the family took such fierce pride in its culinary skills that

traditional family recipes are still cooked in the different Nakpil

kitchens that have spread all over Manila from the ancestral

kitchen in Quiapo.

Viennese Secession style

The well-heeled of Manila came to the house regularly, clients

of Petrona's Plater!a Nakpil, where the outstanding

gold-and-diamond pieces of jewelry so highly prized by Manila

society were designed by the Nakpil family and handcrafted

under close supervision by artisans in the atelier within the

house. The Art Deco flower-inspired pieces of jewelry of

diamonds set in white gold, executed just before World War II

are now highly valued heirloom pieces, rare examples of old

Filipino excellent craftsmanship that now command a prohibitive

price among jewelry collectors the Manila.

Historic and artistic as its accomplished occupants may have

been, the house is itself a landmark in Philippine architecture. It

is one of the primary examples of the fusion of the bahay na

bato with a western style, in this case, the Viennese Secession

style of the early 20th century.

The Secession in Vienna developed a new architectural style

that reflected the new European lifestyle of the day by

reinterpreting natural forms, particularly vines and flora, in a

very linear manner, in a more abstract fashion than the

representational, curvilinear forms of the Art Noveau preferred

by the Filipinos.

Gifted with set of Secession furniture, Dr Bautista asked his

architect, Arcadio Arellano, to design the house around the set

of furniture. Arellano responded to the challenge creatively.

Arellano designed a traditional Filipino bahay na bato (stone

house) with an upper floor constructed in wood. Following the

Filipino penchant for wide open interior spaces, he planned a

house where the rooms flow into each other so effortlessly.

Within this traditional architectural framework, he incorporated

Viennese Secession motifs.

The motifs, according to Dr Zi lcita who spent his childhood in

the house, are "...flattened, elongated curves [that] echo the

frames of the ceilings, in the abstract tulips of the tracery

(calados) of the room dividers, and in the highly stylized lyres of

the ventanilla grilles. Another motif, small squares on long

vertical bars, appears in the simple row of recessed squares that

decorate the wooden walls, in the wooden stair railings and in

the window grilles."

Definite icon

Directly contrasting with the typical houses of the day that were

decorated in the Filipino baroque penchant that revolved

around floral patterns curvaceously rendered in super

three-dimensional relief, the Nakpil-Bautista stands out in its

simplicity, setting the tone for the new architectural style that

eliminated surface direction. In the clean, crisp direction its

architecture takes, it joins the futuristic European architectural

movements that eliminate the unnecessary in decoration.

The house is among the best examples that show successful

adaptation of traditional architecture to modern trends. It is one

of the works that pushes Filipino architecture forward,

responding to ideas developed in Europe, fusing east and west.

Because of that the Nakpil-Bautista House is among the few

houses in the country that are culturally and artistically

significant, a definite icon in Filipino heritage.

Open to the public, the Bahay Nakpil-Bautista is one of the

'must' places in Manila to visit, located at 432 A. Bautista

(formerly Barbosa) Street, perpendicular to Hidalgo Street

opposite Quiapo Church. A. Bautista Street is parallel to Quezon

Boulevard in Quiapo. Talk to Tessie Obusan, the ebullient

curator, whose stories bring the house back to life. Her

enthusiasm on Quiapo will set you off on a discovery walk of

the district. Do the walk because there is much to re-discover in


Indonesia Thailand USA Europe Canada Hong Kong Philippines