Saturday, September 3, 2011

Enrica Alunan Lizares and her Balay ni Tana Dicang

Our visit to another one of Silay's many Heritage Houses stands out in my mind for so many reasons -- Balay ni Tana Dicang or House of Capitana Dicang is the oldest among the heritage houses, built in the late 1800s by Enrica Alunan Lizares. She was a lady way ahead of her time in terms of her foresight and character -- unusually strong for a woman raised during those times.

The house stands along the aptly named Lizares Street and while it is imposing from the outside, you only begin to appreciate its significance once you enter the massive doors.

A huge wooden angel, rescued from the Lizares Mausoleum stands guard at the door.

On this visit, we were greeted by the sight of a table laid out with merienda - Tana Dicang's hospitality extends up to today.

I had never seen peach gumamelas with a dark red center! Grown in the garden, they made a colorful centerpiece for the merienda table. The plate of fried bicho bicho, sweet and crunchy with a buko filling was very yummy and is a traditional snack from Silay.

Portraits of the Grande Dame of the house, done by different Silaynon artists in varying styles lined the walls of the receiving room.

This to my mind is the photo that says it all about Tana Dicang. With President Manuel Quezon to her left and President Sergio Osmena to her right, this shows just how politically powerful and important she was -- truly a trailblazer for her time!

All the furniture in the house has been kept in its original condition. You can really see the grandeur of that era and how people of Tana Dicang's class lived. The level of gentility, sophistication and elegance is truly amazing.
What is even more inspiring is that during World War II, Tana Dicang had the foresight and presence of mind to carefully wrap and put away all her furniture and furnishings from beds to tables and chairs down to the smallest silver teaspoon and porcelain plate -- everything was kept and thus survived, intact and in one piece -- something truly mind boggling considering how much was lost during the war.

Since President Manuel Quezon came and stayed over a few times, he had his own bedroom and bed -- which are kept just as how he must have seen it then.

Even if Tana Dicang was one of the wealthiest and most powerful women of that time, her bedroom was very simple, even austere. Note the sewing machine at one corner -- I was told she sewed clothes for her own daughters. Considering all that she had to do -- I cannot imagine how she had time to do that!

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