The Yap-Sandiego ancestral house is reputed to be the oldest Chinese house outside of China. According to the guide who handled our tour, the house was built in the late 17th century at the heart of Parian, then a wealthy community in Cebu.
I have seen a lot of ancestral homes in my travels around the country but this one is different in many ways. Most of these ancestral homes were built by the wealthy families with Europena/mestizo origins . Or they were houses of the biggest owners of farms and haciendas. They all looked like typical European homes.
Yap-Sandiego stands out because of the way it was constructed.In fact, it does look and feel like you are in a Chinese movie setting, especially with the brick “tisa” roof – – not the same as the tegula concrete roof cement in today’s modern and affluent homes.
Clay roof and molave hardwood for this ancestral house.
A lady receptionist clad in old Filipiniana dress adds to the aura of this heritage home. At the ground level, there are ornaments and antiquities that are collections of the present owner of the house, a descendant from the Sandiego branch of the family. The house is over 300 years old although the antique collections would probably be “younger”.
She lives that moment
The ground floor is unpaved and contains a lot of period furniture and “santos”. Walking around, my eyes were riveted to the wooden structure that is actually the underside of the stairs. I marvelled at the wood that made up the house – – – molave and other hardwood.
Pebbles on the unpaved ground floor
Sturdy materials for the stairs
Images of saints
Visitors are asked to wear mittens, provided by the guides, to cover their shoes or sandals before being allowed on the second floor. This, the guide says, is to make sure the wooden floors are not damaged nor scratched. The first sign of its age, as I went up the second floor, is the creaking staircase, on the left side going up. Noticing how fragile the structure was, I slowly moved and walked up on the right side where it felt more stable.
Photographed from the second floor
The “banggerahan” , a rack for drinking glasses and cups, catches one’s eyes at the second floor, at the dining area. The other focal point is the bedroom with a four-poster bed and a wooden baby crib. The guide said that even the wealthy Yaps then slept in one and the same bedroom.
Banggerahan on extreme left
The antique items are collections of the present owner, a descendant of the clan. Old interesting items, but not quite as old and as interesting as the 300+ years old house itself.
A painting of how the Parian community must have looked like before
an eye-catching wooden baby crib
There is a pocket garden where one can catch a glimpse of the house from the sides. It was Christmas season when I visited so the lovely lanterns provided an interesting accent to this heritage home.
As I took a photo of the house from the street, an ambulant taho vendor walked by, and an old lady came into the scene. I thought these personalities created for me a scene straight out of the late 17th century when Parian was a bustling Cebu district.
Bonus: Cebu’s History in a Giant Sculpture
Just outside is a mjor tourist attraction. I am showing it from one side and not posting the other angle because a portion of the mural is damaged. I hope the city fixes that ruined part before you visit.
A short turn from the Yap-Sandiego House is the Museo Cebu, but the facility is closed every Sunday.
Open from 9am to 7pm everyday
Entrance fee: P50 per guest
How to get there:
Hail a taxi/cab and tell the driver to take you to Yap-Sandiego at Parian. This is such a famous landmark that everyone knows.
Address and Contact Details:
155-Lopez Jaena corner Mabini Street