Casa Manila: A Guide to Gracious Living

At the Balcony Gates of Casa Manila

Our guided calesa  tour took us through the well-planned streets and stops in Intramuros. There were many interesting stops but none had more appeal to me than the Casa Manila Museum of the Plaza San Luis Complex, close to the San Agustin church. Casa Manila  is a reconstructed house now showcasing the lifestyle of upper-class members of society during the Spanish Era.

For the affluent few in colonial Philippines, gracious living featured a lot of perks. It was only too bad I couldn’t take shots of the interesting pieces inside Casa Manila Museum but I was very happy to note some quirky facts:

  • In place of the modern day’s electric fan, punkah, which was a large, manual, overhead fan made of textile, had to be imported from India and installed in dining areas. Since electricity was yet to be harnessed for public consumption at the time,  one could make it swing overhead by pulling a cord–serving to cool guests in the hot weather and to shoo flies away.
  • Ice-cold beverages served to guests marked a well-to-do household since in those times since ice cubes actually had to be shipped from the USA. Only rich families could afford to buy them or keep them in an ice chest that had to regularly be fed with salt to keep the ice from melting rapidly.
  • An old school kasilyas or toilet, would be separate from the banyo or the shower room. In the Spanish era, these rooms came with wooden chairs that seated 2 people while doing number 2. The kasilyas not only served as a place to relieve oneself: chit-chats accompanied the time spent inside. As a matter of fact, board games (such as dama) were also brought along for recreation.
  • A bachelor uncle had their very own sleeping quarters at their disposal whenever they came to visit. This room is not a “guest room” as we would presently consider it to be. They were specifically for the use of the “bachelor uncle”.

There were many other interesting facts recounted by the keepers of the museum, but the rest of them escape me now. I can only imagine how ladies in Maria Claras elegantly walked through the halls and how the dashing gentlemen rode their horses through the grounds of the Casa to call on the Master of the house.

This journey back in time will only cost you Php75.00 which you’ll have to pay upon entrance.


About The Chronic Vacacionista

don't just THINK out of the box. LIVE out of it. View all posts by The Chronic Vacacionista

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