Camiña Balay nga Bato: The House Beside the River

Credits to Mr. Eugene Jamerlan for this article (who also graciously gave us a tour of the house). :)

In 1860, Fernando Avanceña of a textile and weaving family and his wife Eulalia Abajo started building their home in the town of La Villa Rica de Arevalo. It would take them another five years to finish the “balay nga bato” or stone house. Originally patterned after the “bahay kubo” or cube house, their house has batten and board walls and a nipa and bamboo roof with a plaited bamboo ceiling. The house is called Camiña Balay nga Bato: The House Beside the River.

The pavement on the ground floor was “embalozado” terracotta tile work with a lime ash membrane underneath for termite control. The “palitada” or lime plaster protected the base of the house posts as well and these “haligis” or walls were made from peeled and rough-hewn “trosos” or entire tree trunks. The house sported twenty four of these and proudly displayed them as status symbols in an exposed “camarin” configuration.

The house eventually sported massive “mamposteria” or lime stone rubble and plaster walls on account of the frequent threat of piracy and pillage La Villa Rica de Arevalo being the seat of Spanish colonial administration in Southern Panay. Weaving houses of these genre had the looms attached to some of the posts and the weavers enjoyed uninterrupted light and breeze in these ground floor “talyer” set up.

The main stairs were inclined steeply like the bamboo ladder of the “bahay kubo” and set to the right of the great house making sure the final landing or “caeda” fell center of the main house. The top landing is guarded by a massive pair of hardwood doors with an ingenious locking mechanism attributed to Japanese craftsmen who specialized in the trade of fortress door construction as well as sliding capiz windows done in the “shoji” screen manner. From this central foyer the different spaces are accessed with the front leading to the “sala” or main salon. This is flanked on two sides by large bedrooms. These in turn are reached through service or butler’s alleys away from the main formal room.

The “oratorio” or chapel sits right next to one of the two main bedrooms while the dining area is behind the house leading to the less formal rooms on an attached bamboo and nipa longhouse leading to the “pantaw” or platform where the service kitchen, bathroom and toilet were situated. The pantaw morphed into a “pantalan” or wharf at the point facing the Batiano River where the family’s “lorchas” and “goletas” or sail boats docked waiting for cloth to be sent to the Jaro and Molo town markets and beyond. The house engaged many weavers who worked with piña, abaca, cotton and silk combinations to make luxuriously sheer “sinamay” or handwoven textile. As the family’s fortune waxed, the nipa roof and bamboo plait ceiling gave way to tin roofing and pressed metal ceilings.

Today, the memory of this heritage house is celebrated by the family’s fourth generation who has turned the house into a living museum with an “almacen” showcasing the best of heritage products from all over Panay as well as offerings of vernacular cuisine.


For more information and reservations please contact:

Lola Rufina Heritage Curio Shop

Camiña Balay nga Bato

20 Osmeña Street, Villa de Arevalo Iloilo City

Phone: 033-3363858/033-396-1927

Fax: 033-336-5075



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