Serene Sanctuary of the Past: Heritage Houses in Manila

A photo of the famous heritage house in Quiapo called, Bahay Nakpil Bautista. Photo courtesy of Rappler.

Having a heritage house is like owning a piece of history. These structures show how people before us have lived. It is a home that offers soul and character. The elegance and warmth embodied in these houses will make any homeowner have an additional responsibility.

There are a lot of heritage houses in Manila that deserve a closer look. In this article, Tokyo Grand Renovation will feature some architectural gems to inspire of having a heritage house of your own.


Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

The O’Brien-Lichauco Heritage House was originally owned by the O’Brien family until it was bought by Marcial Lichauco after World War II. Unlike the other towns in Manila, Santa Ana was spared from much of the destruction. Because of its location on the main thoroughfare leading out of Manila, the house became a place of refuge for those fleeing the destruction downtown.

The house is filled with Spanish period elements like concrete materials are used on the ground floor, varnished wood on the second floor, and capiz for windows and other decorations. The house retains its original materials and architecture, including the molave stairs, the adobe walls, the wooden panels, and the machuca tiles.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

It has a spacious second floor to accommodate social gatherings. A row thick, plaster-coated Tuscan columns support the veranda on the side facing the Pasig River. The house faces the Pasig River because at the time it was built, most guests arrived by boat.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

It was declared a heritage house by the National Historical Commission and the 200-year-old balete tree in its compound was also declared by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources as a heritage tree.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.


The Jose P. Laurel Ancestral House is one of the three houses owned by the President of the Second Philippine Republic, José P. Laurel. It is located in 1515 Peñafrancia Street (corner Santo Sepulcro Street) in Paco District (hence also known as “Villa Peñafrancia”).

President Laurel purchased the house in 1926 and served as his residence, together with his wife Paciencia Hidalgo and their children, for 29 years before he transferred to his retirement home in Mandaluyong.


What was once dubbed as the Paris of Asia, here are some historical gems that are worth visiting.

This heritage house reflects the architectural style common around that time known as Bahay-na-Bato (“House-of-Stone”). Masonry materials constitute the lower level or the ground floor of the house while wooden materials and capiz-shell windows dominate the upper floor. The roofing of the house is made of corrugated galvanized iron while its vented eave ceilings are decorated with simple cut-out floral design. Ornate grill works also adorn the windows on the ground floor and the ventanillas (small shuttered openings below the windows) of the upper floor. Adjoining the northwest portion of the house is the garage area with an azotea or rooftop.

Photo courtesy of The Urban Roamer.


The Nakpil-Bautista House (Tagalog, Bahay Nakpil-Bautista) is one of the old houses found in the district of Quiapo, Manila. It was built in 1914 by Arcadio Arellano. The two-house originally sits on two lots, having a total area of 500 square meters.

The house is a Bahay na Bato and had two entrances, a street door and a large iron gate, typical of many Manila houses of the period. The large iron gate leads to the estero behind. The lower story is in the wood-and-stone style post-1880.

Rodrigo Perez III, architect and scholar, says that, in many Filipino houses whether in the Cordillera or in the lowland countryside, “space is surrounded by space.”
Photo courtesy of Rappler.

In a lecture at Nakpil-Bautista house in 1999, he showed how Arellano’s creation manifests this idea. Going up the main stairway the visitor arrives at hall, the caida, with doors on all four sides leading to the surrounding rooms, the dining room, the living room, and two suites of bedrooms. Two sets of doors slide Japanese-style to open, vistas extending from street to estero.

Photo courtesy of Rappler.

The heritage home’s inspiration is the Vienna Secession, a style not well known in the Philippines during this time. Viennese artists of the 1890s reacted to the fashionable revival of historic styles by creating a style with a contemporary character. The Secession was thus the same as the art nouveau. After Dr. Ariston Bautista and his wife, Petrona Nakpil the painter, received a gift of Secession furniture, they designed their entire house around the furniture motifs.

The dining room of the heritage home. Photo courtesy of Rappler.

Window grilles overlooking the estero have vertical floral stems with flowers sized to small squares, while grilles facing the street display abstract interpretation of lyres. The upper exterior
wall is simply decorated with a band of square insets. On the tracery of the interior ransom walls are abstract interpretations of the kiyapo plant.

The bed shared by Gregoria de Jesus and Julio Nakpil is set up in one of the house's rooms on the third level. Photo courtesy of Rappler.

The National Historical Commission of the Philippines declared the house as a cultural property on August 25, 2011. Today, the house is a museum showcasing items of the Katipunan, paintings, among others.

Give your home a timeless, positive look with Japanese interior designers today!  

Tokyo Grand Renovation (TGR) is a design and build specialist when it comes to crafting luxury and functionality in one. Inspired by Japanese philosophy and style, TGR’s headquarters is at 9110 La Campana St. cor. Trabajo St., Brgy. Olympia, Makati City, 1207.   

For inquiries, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 832 16 76, or send an e-mail at

TGRはマカティの高級インテリアデザイン、リノベーション、会社です。TGRは 住宅および商業 スペースの為のデザインと建築を提供 し ております。お問い合わせは 、02832 1676 にお電話いただくか、 電子メール へ送信 お願いします。


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