I’m not sure if people read blogs on a Saturday? But I really don’t mind posting this on the same day that I experienced it just a few weeks ago (it’s hard to get over it, you know). 😉
If there’s only one place that I could go back to in Iloilo where I can spend the whole morning or afternoon, it would be this place they now call Camiña Balay nga Bato. As mentioned from my previous post regarding our hectic but fun itinerary in Iloilo, this part of our almost “failed” visit turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip and my personal favorite for so many reasons (which I’ll be sharing below).
But first, let’s revisit this beautifully preserved Avenceña and Camiña Ancestral home together.
The ‘almost’ failed visit…
It was an early and quiet Saturday morning when we decided to ride a jeepney going to Arevalo. We just had our breakfast at the hotel and we were kind of rushing so we could make the most out of our morning before our friend’s wedding that afternoon.
Knowing where we wanted to go, our jeepney driver suddenly stopped the vehicle and expressed that we’re already at the “Bahay na Bato”. It was so quiet and there was no hint that the house was open for surprise visitors. We were already thinking that it could have been closed on that weekend. It actually looked like a normal house where intruders like us weren’t allowed.
Uninvited and persistent (we almost felt “sayang” and “bitin”), we took a peek at the only opening that we could see from outside the house. We looked in between the black-colored grills and called “Manong/ Manang” inside a somewhat darkened room. We were then guided to walk at what seemed to be an alley just before the house.
Just a few steps and voila! It was the house’s main gate. So I pulled the rope to ring the huge bell that was hanging just before the gate when manong approached and opened Camina Balay nga Bato to us. Suddenly, we felt safe and no longer total intruders! It was like we were the expected guests of the Don and Doña of the house.
This was our experience as we stepped inside the beautiful home of this family (click photos for the slideshow):
WHY I WAS SO FOND OF THIS PLACE:
1. THE MEMORY OF MY GRANDFATHER. This ancestral home reminded me so much of my Lolo Maximo’s old house in Manila (which was sadly turned into a building before it was sold). The ground floor of my Lolo’s house served as their bakeshop, which was one of the main sources of income of the family and where my mama used to help at when she was young. The second floor of Lolo’s house also had windows made of capiz shells and the whole house made entirely of wood.
2. HOME AND FAMILY. This special dwelling, which is also known as “the house beside the river” speaks a lot about HOME and FAMILY. It’s inspiring to know how the generations of this family were able to preserve their 150-year-old ancestral house. I’m actually grateful to see how their 10 years of restoring this place became a benefit not just to their own family and the Ilonggos but people like me who wanted to experience true Filipino heritage.
3. THE SUPER, HOT AND FAMOUS TSOKOLATE. I have my own reasons for using such superlatives in describing my tsokolate de batirol experience from this place.
It’s first “SUPER” because drinking their hot choco made me reminisce my childhood. I remember my 92-year old Lola Gliceria’s own tsokolate, which she usually patiently make with her own batirol every afternoon for merienda. I also remember the palitaw that we used to pair it with. With my lola’s age, I don’t think she could still carry that heavy cast-iron tsokolatera but I hope I would be able to buy her some tablea from Camiña Balay nga Bato and drink hot tsokolate with her next time.
Next, I think the hot chocolate here was “HOT” (as in Paris Hilton’s hot for cool) as it brings us back not just to our childhood memories but the culture of Filipinos. Drinking this thick, rich, sweet and literally hot chocolate in such ambience was totally cool! (Not to mention, it’s bottomless! Drink-all-you-can tsokolate until you get naturally sugar high.)
4. THE VINTAGE PIANO. It was too late when I found out that there were other people who were still around the Sala Mayor when we started to sing and play the piano. I actually felt sorry for the other guests (sorry po). As I mentioned above, I think this was a serious effect of sugar high from drinking cups of hot tsokolate. So be warned.
We love that anyone can play the piano at the second floor while enjoying the classic atmosphere at the Camiña Balay nga Bato. This part of the house also reminded me of my piano teacher named Tia Pacita (bless her) when I was seven years old. She would always give me pasalubong (“present” or bribe?) with her D.I.Y. crafts every time she visits my grandparents’ house to teach me how to play the piano. I wanted to be taught modern songs but instead she taught me the classics from Que Sera Sera to Chopsticks (The Celebrated Chop Waltz) and Blue Moon.
I wasn’t able to say goodbye to her but I’m always grateful on how she patiently taught me (even when I didn’t show any passion, just a bit of sweetness that time).
*** I have a video below when my friends and I played “Maalala Mo Kaya”. Please let me know if you know the title of the second piano piece.
5. ILONGGO FOOD. Okay, so this was the one that we missed at this place – the food! It was already too late when we found out that they can also serve breakfast, lunch and merienda (upon reservation) Ilonggo style! Huhu…cry, cry. We missed the opportunity to eat their home-cooked pancit molo, adobo rice, lumpia and other dishes. But this also means that we can still look forward to experience this on our next visit.
This video will show you more about this ancestral house and the Ilonggo food that they can prepare for you when you visit them.
So there goes my top five reasons why I love this place! What about you? What do you think of this ancestral home? Do you know other places like this in Iloilo?
A quick look of Camiña Balay nga Bato’s Sala Mayor and our hot tsokolate de batirol experience (click HD):
From a slow and sleepy lady to someone energized and happy from drinking some velvety and delicious hot tsokolate de batirol. Thanks Camiña Balay nga Bato for the exprience and very memorable atmosphere. We had a hard time leaving your place.
OUR FULL ITINERARY IN ILOILO: