Monday, March 12, 2007

casa manila

my usual sunday routine of staying in bed and watching tv series after tv series was momentarily thrown out the window this week. susie decided to drag me over to intramuros and finally see casa manila.

i know, it's quite shameful to admit that i've been living here for 25 years, and i haven't even seen casa manila. the thing is, i didn't even know it existed. but no matter. fortunately for me, i had susie as my guide for my first casa manila experience. he knows a lot about history, and it was great to hear tidbits as we went through the house. these were things that the museum didn't exactly or wouldn't part with.

casa manila, according to the brochure that you get when you buy a ticket (P40
) is a "colonial lifestyle museum," meaning, they try to give you a window to how life used to be by recreating a house (of quite an affluent family at that) in the 1800s.

the ground floor, accessible from the street (just across san agustin church), is a maze of various establishments: a gallery, a souvenir shop, an antiques store, and a coffee shop (to name a few. i may have missed some establishments). the ticketing office is also in one of the shops there. you enter through a staircase that leads to the entresuelo, or mezzanine. but before you proceed, a museum employee checks your ticket and tells you, "no picture taking, and please walk on the red carpet only."

the entresuelo was where people who work or do trade with the family were received, and even made to wait. there are also rooms on this floor that could have been used by an extended member of a family (such as a drug-using uncle, perhaps? i kid. :p), or visiting guests. this floor is also where the office can be found. i saw the desk of the "boss," and he would always sit with his back to the wall. tsk tsk. very bad feng shui.
after marveling at the bauls, the old weighing scales, and even a very, very, very heavy-looking, black caha de hierro, we trudge on upstairs, where the antesala, the sala, the master's quarters, and the kitchen are.

and from this, i have learned that the antesala is a place for casual or informal "affairs." this is where the "family would play parlor games," the sign said. "what parlor games?!" my mind shouted quietly. i couldn't help but picture the entire family playing trip to jerusalem with their ornate, wooden chairs.

a few more steps, and i'm in the sala. in contrast with the antesala, this was where formal functions were held. because of that, this was where the nicest things can be found: the best furniture, european art, and whatever the family deems interesting and important enough to show off.

we walk along the red carpet and reach the master's bedroom. hu-wow. the wooden furniture! facing the door was an
aparador de tres lunas (armoire with three sections), with each section bearing a full-length mirror. over on the far end of the room, near the window, was the lavabo (washstand) made of marble. i was floored by that one. the room may not have its own bathroom (at least, i didn't see one), but that washstand was something else!

but the best part of the house has got to be the kitchen. oh, by the way, this one doesn't have red carpets on it, but you can walk inside. :) the minute i entered, i couldn't keep my eyes off the oven, which was shaped like a dome at the corner of the room. i don't bake nor cook, but if i had that in my house, i would be in the kitchen all day! and it's also interesting to note that they had cookie moulds even then. and when i saw them, the museum staff had to laugh at what i had to say: "ay! ang ganda! pero kung ganyan yung itsura ng cookie mo, parang ayaw mo nang kainin." the "body" of the usually round cookies would be decorated with carving-like designs. i'd probably spend all day just looking at them had i been served with a cookie like that.

the kitchen was also where the CRs of old were. one tiny room had the toilet bowls. it was quite interesting, as it looked like a bench for two with holes in them. hmm... so people of old would take a crap together. inseparable they were.

the bathroom, on the other hand, was a slightly bigger room that contained huge tubs, where people would submerge themselves for baths.

and after that, you exit through the door of the kitchen that leads you back to 2007. you go down the stairs, and take a peek at the horse stables, then follow the sign to the coffee shop, and have yourself a snack. :D

contact details:
casa manila
plaza san luis complex
corner gen. luna and real streets
intramuros, manila
tel. nos.: 5274084; 5274088
open daily (except monday) from 9am to 6pm
admission: P40

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