The panorama on the sunrise side: an awesome view of Malarayat

The quiet panorama on the sunrise side of the farm: an awesome view of Mount Malaráyat and the river below the gap.

03 November 2011

Around Lipa: Casa de Segunda

Lipa is one of the few Philippine cities (and towns) whose main street is not called Rizal. Instead, it is named after Claro Recto, a nationalist and one of the city's most distinguished sons. The other major thoroughfares pay tribute to equally-prominent Lipéňos: Morada, Luz, Kalaw.

But there is a Rizal Street, a side street of Recto Avenue, some blocks behind the Cathedral. There is a special, sentimental reason for this rather unusual street-naming: the young Jose used to visit a house on this street, a house that you can visit until today. He would arrive on horseback (presumably from Calambâ), tie his horse on the alagáo tree by the gate (which is still there today) to court a young girl he was infatuated with: Segúnda Katigbâk.

The house is a fine example of colonial tropical architecture; it dates from 1880 and is in excellent shape to this day, one of the city's five remaining Spanish-era houses that survived World War II, earthquakes, and typhoons. In fact, this particular ancestral house has this wonderful, lived-in ambience: Segunda's descendants live within the compound and personally attend to every guest who knocks in their gate.

The nárra floors are polished, the capíz windows are complete, the planters and pedestals are filled with greens, and the compound seems to be always abuzz with activity. Once I was there, the barangáy was having a meeting in the courtyard.

Apart from its great condition, it also displays a tasteful selection of period furniture made of tropical hardwoods with exquisite inlays and tracery, rattan caning, Chinese porcelain, silverware and kitchen implements true to the era of this beautiful home. There are family photos, leather-bound books, Lipa memorabilia, and of course, references to Segunda and her famous suitor. But the ancestral house speaks far more than this short historical footnote: its design alone is a good model for tropical architecture.

Despite the heat and the sunshine outside, it was pleasantly cool and breezy within the rooms, the corridors, and especially in the foyer downstairs. Of course, the compound is sheltered by old trees that further enhances the shady and balmy atmosphere.

Casa de Segunda requests a token amount of twenty pesos to help maintain their house. They are open everyday but big groups best book ahead.


  1. Lovely photos.. done with good taste. I love the details on the elephant stand beside the console.

  2. Beautiful home, and historical too! It does give a cool, airy feel... Could you possibly build something like this in 1784? Of course it will be more modern, but tropical still. Just dreaming.... :-)

  3. Thanks for posting this, as I have long wanted to visit this but somehow farther places had the priority. It is always like that with me, nearby areas are relegated to the future, which sometimes does not come. I am also interested with the alagao tree, how big is its trunk now? I am amazed i still remember its Scientific name, Premna odorata, as an alagao tree at the sidewalk of the university is labeled like that!

  4. @Jonathan: Thanks! Precisely, the elephant pedestal caught my eye too.
    @Big Sis: Hmmmm, why not? But I'm not sure how organic it would look with the surroundings, especially on the cliffside. We'll see...
    @Andrea: Yeah, that's how it is with everyone, including myself. the alagao tree's height and girth is just like an old narra.

  5. We tried to visit Casa Segunda before but we were not allowed to enter the house, this was three years ago. I think it's time to visit Lipa again for a cultural tour. Lovely pics! (as usual)

  6. Yeah, come over anytime! I'll be featuring some more interesting spots in the next weeks :)

  7. Still open to public?