What to see at Casa Manila

Travel Guide: Itinerary, and places to see when planning a visit at Casa Manila Museum

This is a not sponsored post. All opinions are mine.

Manila, 27, October 2019.

Casa Manila (1850). The museum characterized the Spanish colonial lifestyle. The framework of the three-story building is made of stone  as its base, and wood on the second and third floors. Back then it was considered as a mansion (grand house) in Barrio San Luis. The mansion is a replica of  Binondo merchant Don Severino Mendoza located in San Nicolas in Binondo.

In 1980’s, the Intramuros Administration (IA) under Imelda Marcos spearheaded an intensive research to construct the complex. Urban planner and architect Ramon L. Faustmann designed the museum under Spanish architecture.

Casa Manila typifies the house of the Filipino “ilustrado,” an affluent class bred by the opening of Manila to world trade in the late 19th century. Investing in the import-export boom, the “ilustrado” amassed wealth which in turn bought a lifestyle refined by European education and travel: good books, good music, good food and good company in a house that breathed luxury and grace.” as told by Lynda B. Valencia, PNA (Revisit the past in Casa Manila.)


What to see at Casa Manila

what to see at casa manila

The museum gives the impression of what it was like to live under the Spanish influence. It dates back to years before the Philippine Revolution in 1896 and how it was like to live a wealthy life amidst the slavery of the underprivileged locals.

Zaguan (Arabic). Corridor (pasilyo), where horse-drawn carriages (caruaje) deposited the passengers before proceeding to the stable (cuadra) at the rear. The benches were for the cocheros (coachmen) and the portero (porters) who held the keys to the front doors. Via zaguan, Casa Manila’s main entrance serves as a  passageway for the “caruaje” leading to the “patio.”

The patio.  Every house in this era seems to have a patio, a vital portion of an upscale house,  where the source of air and light passes through the house corridor.  It provides natural light during the day and cool air at night.

what to see at casa manila
at the patio overlooking zaguan


Cuarto. Room (silid) entresuelo could have been occupied by a maiden aunt (tiyahing matandang dalaga). The Ah-Tay  bed was a status symbol, it was named after a Chinese furniture maker from Binondo.

 what to see at casa manila

Sala. Within the living room are: music area, study area, office-library complete with a “caja de hiero” (safe) and “baul” (treasure chest) for keeping gold and silver coins. plaster works, European furnitures, lounging chairs, marble-topped tables, pedestals holding European sculptures, grandfathers clock.

 what to see at casa manila

what to see at casa manila
The music area with an old organ, a grand piano made in Boston in the 1850s, and a harp are displayed. From the music area, one canpeer out on the San Agustin Churchyard.

Comedo.  The dining room with long table and chairs elaborated wood carvings, a punkah on the ceiling, and fine furniture surrounding the area.

what to see in casa manila

Punkah.  At the dining table, a punkah is a  ceiling fan manually operated with a string attached to it.  The device was brought  from India during the British Occupation of Manila (1762-1763).  The servant hides in the corner of the dining area and assists in controlling the fan to shoo the flies away.

Bangerra. Filipino are used to saying “bangerrahan” (dishrack), in  rural community until today, it refers to a typical sink (or lababo), made with kawayan (bamboo) or buho, is used to wash the dining and kitchen wares, and left to dry under the sun.

what to see at casa manila
Bangerra or banggerahan

Letrina. Toilet (palikuran) of a common large house had two or more toilets that were close to each other. Some houses even had holes on the floor for those who wanted to squat. One could really do “tete-a-tete” and some even had checkerboards incised on the arms.

what to see at casa manila

Baño. Bathroom displayed a bañera (bathtub) made of stoneware from China (Ming Dynasty), martavan jar, also a China stoneware.

what to see at casa manila


what to see at casa manila
The stairs at the bangerra leads to the exit or back door.

Casa Manila museum may not be the actual house and objects in it, it’s there to immortalize the thing of the past.  Certain sections such as the prayer room  before entering the cuartos (room) are prohibited from taking photos. On typical museum days, taking photos of the interior of the house is also impossible.

Complete photos from “Intramuros Open House: Walk with Chan are available on our Facebook Page.

Thank you Mr. Rence Chan of Walk with Chan and friends who came along.


Other interesting reads:

Best things to do at Villa Escudero

Postal Heritage Talks and Tour by the Royal Postal Heritage Guided Tour

Best Things to do in Hong Kong

Best Things to Do in Panglao, Bohol

Best Things To Do in Taal Batangas


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