Carcar houses declared historical sites

CEBU CITY -- Four of Carcar City's largest and oldest ancestral houses from the Spanish colonial period are now officially recognized as historical landmarks.

Chairman Ambeth R. Ocampo of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) unveiled four heritage house markers Saturday, in the houses that belong to the Sarmiento-Osmeña, Noel, Mercado-Lucero and Silva families.

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These houses were built in the mid-19th century.

They are significant for their architectural details, cultural influences and heirloom furnishings. Many historical events and visits by historical personalities took place in each house.

The leading members of each family were also town leaders who made lasting contributions to Carcar's cultural, commercial, political and religious life, the markers pointed out.

The first house originally belonged to Don Florencio Mercado Noel, the first president municipal (or mayor) of Carcar from 1901-1905, followed by his sons, Vicente Noel, Mariano Noel and Maximino Noel, who all became mayors, one after another.

Jerry Martin Noel Alfafara, public relations officer of the Carcar Heritage Conservation Society (CHCS), said that Maximino, his grand-uncle, became congressman and was considered the longest-serving legislator in Philippine history.

"Ang dakong balay," which is how the property is known in the city, was also the setting for the movie "Villa Lagrimas," directed by Lino Brocka.

The second house, the Mercado mansion, first belonged to Don Mariano "Nanoy" Mercado, who became Carcar councilor in 1916, vice mayor in 1919 and mayor in 1922, and was reelected thrice thereafter.

The mansion was inherited by Catalina Lucero, who married Santiago Lucero, a former judge who later became congressman in the 3rd Congress, along with Ferdinand E. Marcos (who later became President), Arturo Tolentino, Ramon Durano Sr. and Mariano Cuenco.

The third house, the "balay na tisa," was built in 1859. It originally belonged to Don Roman Sarmiento and Doña Ana Canayas. Now called the Sarmiento-Osmeña house, based on NHCP records, this property was built simultaneously with the Church of Carcar City.

The house was inherited by Doña Catalina Osmeña-Valencia, and then her daughter, Doña Manuela Sarmiento-Osmeña. The house is now jointly owned by Manny Valencia Castro and Marc Valencia Vanzwall, Manuela's son and nephew, respectively.

The fourth house, the Silva House, first belonged to a priest who was assigned in Carcar for a long time. This was inherited by Dr. Nemesio S. Silva.

Silva's granddaughter, Zarah Silva Castro, also of CHCS Inc., said that last year, when the statue of Cebuano hero Leon Kilat was unveiled by Ocampo, they told him these ancestral houses must be preserved.

They pointed out that road-widening plans threatened these homes.

Ocampo, she said, visited the houses, met with the present owners and worked for their declaration as historical landmarks.

The NHCP, formerly the National Historical Institute, organized Saturday's ceremonies to cap off National Heritage Month activities in Cebu. (EOB/Sun.Star Cebu)
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