Iloilo: The Heritage Molo Mansion

Typical of a Philippine town setting in the old days is a plaza surrounded by a big church, big houses and mansions. It is the glorious old days dominated by the mestizas and mestizos who were highly-regarded for their colonial looks and moneyed charm. Go around the Philippines and you will be entertained by these bits of history. With almost 400 years of Spanish rule, this isn’t surprising.

Some mansions were destroyed, others neglected. The presence of the mansions that we see today that have obviously seen better days serves as a reminder of this elitist past. Most still stand proud, despite the ruins, haunting us with the beauty they once had. Others are well-preserved either by the families (check Iloilo’s Camina Balay na Bato) that passed their property through generations or by private entities who took control of their preservation. Iloilo is one province where some of Philippines’ old elites come from. Old homes and mansions are scattered all over the city. The state that they are in varies.

The Yusay-Consing Mansion, more popularly known as the Molo Mansion, is the latest heritage house developed by SM Land, Inc.

Molo Mansion, a heritage house in Iloilo City

It’s so heartwarming to see efforts like this being initiated by SM. The Molo Mansion is located just beside the Molo Plaza and is walking distance to the famous Molo Church.

I needed to get the front view photo of the mansion from its own fb page since I didn’t get mine (at least not one without my face plastered on it lol). Here’s one from the back side:

back side of the Molo Mansion

If the big houses around the Jaro Plaza were rescued and preserved like this a decade ago, the Jaro Plaza would still have retained those beautiful architectures around it. In place of those beauty are now commercial spaces that aren’t even made to look good. Anyway…

The Molo Mansion sells Kultura products. Commercialized, but at least preserved and exclusively sells just Philippine-made items.

chandelier at the Molo Mansion

This was opened last year in time for the APEC Summit to showcase Ilonggo heritage. So, when I went home for my Christmas vacation last year, the kids and I visited the place immediately. But we weren’t able to enjoy its surroundings since we were just there purely for sightseeing. Last Tuesday was different. We had the luxury of time. After the kids’ swimming lessons at Sarabia Manor, we headed to the Molo Mansion for breakfast.

Hapit anay sa Cafe Panay

There’s a Cafe Panay at the back of the mansion. A signage warmly invites “Hapit anay sa Cafe Panay” which is Hiligaynon (language we Ilonggos speak) for “Pass by Cafe Panay”.

It’s small but it displays things I could be proud of to show to my sons.

My Dad and my sons

Painting below shows the Jaro Belfry in front of the Jaro Cathedral, one of the landmarks in Iloilo.

Jaro Belfry painting, jars and sungka

The small resto has 3 “sungka” boards and my Dad patiently explained how this is played to my sons. The boys enjoyed it and I am tempted to bring one with me when we head back to Seoul.

still learning how to play “sungka”

We came for breakfast, right? My sons, as expected, each got an Ilonggo Chorizo meal while my Dad and I each got a Pancit Molo.

Ilonggo chorizo

Chorizo also known as longganisa is my first son’s favorite. This comes in different shapes and sizes. I grew up eating the smallish, fat ones that my Mom always bought when we were kids. There are long and slimmer ones, too like the ones that we always eat whenever we are in Cabanatuan (North Luzon). They also come in different flavors. The chorizo that we have in Iloilo is sweet. The ones we eat in Cabanatuan have more spices. The more popular and touristy chorizos are from Vigan. Take your pick.

pancit molo

Pancit Molo is a wonton soup dish. Long ago, Chinese settlers came to the Philippines thus, we also have a lot of Chinese influences on us especially on food. But this particular dish, although influenced by the Chinese settlers is said to have originated from Molo. So, here you go, we have now an Ilonggo dish called pancit molo.

The backyard of the mansion has a very old “Balete” tree. Balete trees have creepy reputation and are always included in horror stories I grew up listening to. There’s a place in New Manila called Balete Drive that has gained a notorious reputation among taxi drivers. Stories of a white lady appearing in the middle of the night along Balete Drive is not uncommon. It never fails to give us goosebumps. Ironically, we have a unit along Balete Drive  in New Manila… hahaha. We stay there whenever we are on vacation. The landscape has changed over the years also with the buzzing of activity brought about by new constructions around the place. New Manila is actually an affluent area and Balete Drive is lined with big houses. I wonder how this white lady story really originated that even movies and tv shows came up with their own balete drive stories.

Balete Tree

To make the backyard less eerie, the management made it a cozy place to spend your siesta in. Table Matters was put up with an ice cream stall. They sell native products as well.

drinks and desserts place at the backyard
ice cream stall

And what’s the best thing about this ice cream stall?

Its ternate flower-flavored ice cream!

ternate flavored ice cream

The attendant told me that the ice cream is made at Villa (district next to Molo) and pointed me to the blue flowers grown near the ice cream stall when I asked how the ternate flower looks like (photo above). They can be eaten raw and have health benefits as well.  It is a natural anti-oxidant, improves blood circulation, and helps prevent hair loss and graying hair. It also cleanses blood & improves night vision, revitalizes skin and hair. Interesting!

It’s amazing how things from the past could offer so much history today and how ornamental plants actually have health benefits. Yahoo to new discoveries!

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