The Yap-Sandiego Heritage House

The Yap-Sandiego Heritage House is a 298-square-meter balay nga bato og kahoy (house of wood and stone) located at the corner of Mabini and Lopez-Jaena Streets in the Parian district of Cebu City. It was built sometime between 1675 and 1700 and is one of the oldest existing residential structures in the Philippines.

Spouses Juan Yap and Maria Florido, its earliest known occupants, passed on the property to the Yap siblings: Maria, Eleuterio, and Consolacion. The eldest daughter, Maria Florido Yap, married Mariano Avendaño San Diego in the 1880s.

The house was crafted from narra and other hardwood and roofed with wooden tiles. Typical houses in the Pari-an district were “substantial stone-and-wood houses that followed a distinct pattern: the solid, permanent-looking structure fronting the street, the bodega ground floor and the upper-floor living quarters with the often excessively large rooms, wide windows and azoteas that responded to the need for ventilation and the impulse toward gracious display… that spoke of the Hispanified lifestyle of the local principalia,” writes noted Cebuano scholar Resil Mojares.

As the business center of Cebu in the late 19th century, the Pari-an district morphed into the most prestigious section of the city, where the founding families of Cebu, mestizos of Chinese and Spanish origin, lived and worked. The area was exclusive and patriarchal — its inhabitants dominating the socio-commercial activities of the growing city. In recent history, the Yap-Sandiego house was used as a boarding house for students of nearby schools and universities. It was passed onto noted Cebuano choreographer and art collector Valentin Mancao Sandiego and his wife Ofelia Pacina Zozobrado in 2003. The house is now undergoing careful renovation and outfitting for a museum and art gallery.

Family History Research Notes

1.  Brainard, Cecilia M. “Fiesta in Parian, Cebu, Philippines“.  Travels (and more) with Cecilia Brainard. Date published: 24 June 2008. Date accessed: 31 Aug. 2008.
2.  “An Ancestral House for Many Seasons.” Date published: 18 Jan 2008. Date accessed: 31 Aug 2008.
3.  Newman, Jenara Regis. “Romance with the Past.” Sun Star Cebu. Date published: 31 Aug 2008. Date accessed: 31 Aug 2008.
4.  Sancover, Arnold Carl F. “San Diego-Yap House (Cebu City).” Heritage Conservation Society. Date published: 2 Jan 2007. Date accessed: 31 Aug 2008.
5.  Sancover, Arnold Carl F. “Yap-Sandiego House.” The Heritage of Cebu. Date published: 30 Dec 2006. Date accessed: 31 Aug 2008.

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