<Quick Fact>Syquia is the hispanized of Chinese surname - Sy Kia. This mansion which is notably known as President Elpidio Quirino’s home is a dowry given to him by her wife Dona Alicia Quirino.
We were from Aling Ida’s home where delicious and famous Vigan longganisa were made when we decided to walk along Salcedo Street, towards Quirino Boulevard. At the corner is an old, huge, two storey, blue and cream painted house which stands different from its neighbors. You will know that its SyquiaSyquia mansion when you see an information board near the huge front door.
We walked in paying 20.00pesos each. The first floor where we entered is bare and you can only see an old solitary carriage parked near the stairs going to the second floor where we met our guide. He said that old houses of prominent families in old days looks like this, a garage on the first floor will let the owner know who their visitors are and from there the owner will decide whether he/she will be inviting them up or not.
Upon climbing the stairs we’ve reached a huge corridor with barely any furniture. But this corner has the repainted version (considered to be its closest replica – I just forgot the name of the painter who did this) of Juan Luna’s Painting - Spolarium; the painting itself convey the nobility of the owners. According to them this part is the receiving area for the visitor with nothing less important to discuss.
But visitors with highly important matters or VIPs are taken to the next living area, a larger one, furnished with huge glass, paintings and European furniture and ornaments. This living area has a side lobby that they called servants passage. Traditionally, servants can’t just pass through where the owners do, especially in the presence of the visitors unless of course if they are requested to do so. They have to pass this path to deliver food, drinks and service; a very sophisticated and aristocrat rule.
Then, we headed to the master’s bedroom, this bedroom is expectedly huge, the servants passage is extend up to this area. Here, you can see another set of surely rare and expensive furniture with intricate carving which was said to be purchased and made in Europe.
The fascinating bed, which according to the tour guide was specially made for the original owner and his wife a hundred years ago. Every detail of this bed represents a story and most often are symbols of something related to the owner which is from a Chinese ffamily who runs a robust furniture making and trading business in the city. Here are some that I can remember just to mention a few.
- The waves – represents the sea where goods are transported.
- The anchor represents the “trading using ship” where the owner gains most of his wealth.
- Lettering on the head shows letter R&S stands for the couples family name.
- Pumpkins on the corners are chinese symbol of fortunes also represents his Chinese origin.
Stories of culture and old ways fill in while we step towards the other part of the house, seeing the kid’s bedrooms and old photos, passing through huge dining area with loooong table and the newly renovated kitchen.
"Pardon for the pixelatedphoto, I will replace it soon as I get the chance. This dining has a manually operated ceiling fan to shoo away flies."
My favorite area is the garden plotted in the middle or inside the house vicinity and the chapel that was already locked for security due to some incidents of missing parts of religious sculptures which are made of Ivory.
My favorite piece, is this vase, I want to steal it for my mom. lol! Kidding aside, this vase is a gift from a Chinese emperor to the family. The design of the dragon and its five fingers demonstrates its authenticity, added to that is the emperors engraved stamp at the bottom of the jar that is restricted to be photo’d for security purposes.
Very interesting place and for the rest of the stories (about the family) you may want to visit the mansion, its way better to learn it firsthand.