Shopping Postcards in the Philippines

Postcards used to be commonly sold in almost all bookstores, public market, school supplies outlet, museums, post offices in many parts of the country.

National Bookstore still boast of having some postcards for sale, but not all their branches would have postcards. Compared 10 to 20 years ago, shopping postcards is getting hard in the country.

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commercial postcard

Shopping for Postcards

For collector looking for personalized postcards, There are some artisanal postcards which are self published and can be bought in specialized event like Manila International Book Fair, Toy Convention, Best of Anime, Noel Bazaar, Escolta Market, Travel Expo. While some school fairs like those in University of Santo Tomas ( Sinag Bazaar) and University of the Philippines have some student sellers.

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Heritage Conservation Society postcard/ calendar

There were other groups which issued calendar postcard series like Heritage Conservation Society in the middle part of 2000’s, While Philippine Native Plant Conservation Society Incorporated (PNPCSI) also issued their own native plant and trees series. The table calendar can be used for 12 months, the postcard can easily be detached and used for mailing, framing or scrap book. These type of calendar postcard series were printed on a limited quantity ranging from 500 pieces to 1,200 pieces per series.

PNPCSI  in joint partnership with Rain Forest Restoration Initiative only printed calendar/bookmark during the 2019- 2020 edition, thus was not able to buy the calendar.

Some of the so called postcards sellers do not follow the simple guidelines set by Fédération Internationale de Philatélie which is the authority for postcard guidelines and quantity regulation. This could post some problems for postcard exhibitors which have bought postcards issued by artisan,then entered them during FIP or FIAP sanction exhibition.

Short List

1.) National Bookstore – NBS still carry some postcards, but not all branches would have postcards especially NBS Express, which only carry school or office supplies. It was a different story from the mid-1950’s to early part of 2000’s where hundreds of designs were printed and sold to the general public. They also issued map postcards.

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Philippines map postcard sold in National Bookstore until late 2012

2.) Papemelroti – This is one of our fave place to buy some postcards, They were one of the first commercial stores which issued the shaped postcards. I would visit the Roces branch of the store. Postcard prices would start from Php 5.00 or Php 6.00.

3.) Goodwill Bookstore– Goodwill bookstore used to have a wide array of postcards.

There were two Japanese professional photographers which the company hired in the late 1960’s toured the country to feature interesting landmarks and places. Majority of  were issued between 1967 up to early 1980’s. The postcards were printed under Madonna and JMC Press.

Some of their postcards series were highly collectible, especially those which featured famous landmarks like Luneta, Manila, Philippines Dances, Intramuros and Orchids. They also issued lenticular postcards or 3-D postcard types which were big fancy among collectors.

Unfortunately, managed to collect at least 70 postcard designs before their store closed down few years ago in San Juan. According to some postcard collectors, Goodwill bookstore carried at least 150 known designs issued before. Some of the postcards were already sold out during the mid-1990’s and were never reprinted.

4.) Merriam Webster – Merrian Webster Bookstore is another bookstore chain which had some branches located in Metro Manila. The branches includes Carvajal street ( Binondo), Nicanor Reyes Sr. ( aka Morayta street), Avenida Rizal ( Santa Cruz), Makati, Pasay and Marikina.

The bookstore sold cheap postcards printed by Roscar and local printers.These are far lower quality postcard compared to the issued by leading bookstore. Price ranges from Php 3.00 to Php 5.00 per postcard. The bookstore also carried some stamp album and collectible stamps.

5.) The Bookmark Inc. – The publishing company also re-printed vintage postcards which were classified into themes like fauna, vintage landmarks, people, anthropology and children’s painting in the mid- 1990’s. However the selection is quite limited. During the last MIBF 2019. I saw that they sold some postcard packs at their booth.

6.) Pandayan Bookstore– This bookstore started in 1993 and still carry some postcards. Compared to the ones issued by Merriam Webster. The postcards issued by the bookstore have some quality. But not all branches would carry or sell postcards. One example is in Araneta, Cubao which only carried greeting cards. The bookstore had about 130 branches all over the country.

6.) School Supplies and Wholesalers – If you are looking for cheap postcard, Try to scout school supply wholesalers in Divisoria, Juan Luna street or Santo Cristo area. However the quality is quite inferior compared to the ones being sold by the other bookstore. Another downfall is that you need to buy per pack which may be about 100 pieces per design.

7.) Island Souvenir– Island souvenir started in 1992 and based in Cebu.  They have some branches in Metro Manila.

8.) Silahis, Paper Toile, Casa Manila along General Luna street, Intramuros- For those looking for the general tourist postcard, one can buy tourist postcards from tourist shops. Selection is quite limited. Paper Toile recently opened a stall in First United Building in Escolta street, but does not carry any postcard.

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Paper Toile stall in First United Building

9.) Sterling – Sterling used to have postcards distributed by Expression and other smaller bookstores.  I have visited their office a couple of months ago and they did not carry any postcard. According the the sales person, The company cease printing postcards for the past couple of years. A fellow postcard collector, told me that there were still resellers of Sterling postcards in some parts of the country, abiet rare.

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Chinatown Museum gift shop at the 4th level of Lucky Chinatown Mall

10.) Museums– A good place to shop some postcards or note cards were the limited edition printed by local museums. Museums like the Blanco family museum in Angono, BenCab Museum in Baguio would also carry some note-cards. Lopez Museum in Pasig used to have some postcards series printed before. Bahay Nakpil in Quiapo, Bahay Tsinoy in Intramuros, Chinatown Museum, also printed some postcards. Some of the postcards were eventually given away during their open house few months ago.

11.) Churches and Parishes– Some churches issued their own postcards for sale. Churches and parishes included Santa Cruz, Manila Cathedral Basilica, San Sebastian Basilica, San Agustin and Taal Basilica.

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letter writing postcard issued by PHLPOST

12.) Philippine Postal Corporation– PHLPOST issued some postcards thru the years in partnership with other government institutions like National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) , Department of Tourism (WOW Philippines postcard),Department of Education ( DEPED). These are highly collectible and the last postcard issuance by PHLPOST was in October 2019 which marked the 150th anniversary of postcard.

13.) Other government and private company issuance- Some government agencies issued limited postcard series and at one time, Philippine Airlines, PAN-American Airlines those engaged in the travel business were active issuing postcards ( as part of the extensive marketing and promotion).  I got some postcards issued by Philippine Airlines, PAN-American Airlines,Japan Airlines, Intramuros Administration. Manila Bulletin also issued postcards few years ago in partnership with PHLPOST for the annual letter writing.

14.) Pinspired – Postcards and Collectibles – I met Ms. Erika Jacolo who is the Manila band ambassador of the company. The company is based from Dumaguete City. They also have some postcard for sale in some museums with slightly higher marked-up.

15.) Restaurants – Some local restaurants issued limited edition postcards. Some are  advertising postcard with only few spaces provided to write. Max’s restaurant issued few years ago a limited edition postcard in partnership with PHLPOST.

16.) Hotels and Resorts – Manila Hotel and other resorts would have a souvenir stores or gift stores located within their premises.  A friend who works at the Manila Hotel told me that a big size postcard cost Php 540 a piece. Another friend gave me a postcard when they stayed in Makati- Shangrila.

17.) Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter– There are some active sellers who have account. When Friendster, Yahoo Group, Multiply accounts were still active few years ago, There were also sellers and traders.

18.) Do It Yourself Postcard – There are some postcard collectors who would make DIY postcard, my friend Mr. Philip Reyes makes handmade crochet postcard and send to thematic collector around the world. One can buy blank postcard from Papemelroti. One can paint or draw from the blank postcards.

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Ali X

19.) Thrift Shops– There are several thrift shop outlets like in Kamuning, Cubao Expo, ALI-X, Ermita, Malate, Makati, Pasay, Baguio which sells vintage postcard. These stores cater to postcard collectors and majority of the postcard for sale were used.  Postcards have handwritten notes, stamps and postcard marks.

The prices may vary from one thrift shop to another. Some allow haggling, while others will not allow. Prices start from Php 25 for a small postcard to as much as few hundreds of pesos for the vintage ones.

20.) Stamp Club and Collecting Club – There are different stamp and collecting clubs which meets on saturday or sunday on a specific time and place. Some would meet in Manila Central Post office like Philippine Philatelists and Collectibles ( third saturday) APO ( first sunday ) and Filipinas Stamp Collectors’ Club ( third sunday).

Bayanihan Collectors’ Club,Philippine Numismatic and Antiquarian Society (PNAS) and Banknote Society of the Philippines (BNSP) would meet in different parts of Metropolis such as in Tropical Hut branch in Quezon City, Max’s restaurant, Ortigas Library, Manila Yacht Club, Quezon City Sports Club among other places.

I think all stamp club meetings or bourse are open to the general public. Postcards sold during the meeting or auction are mostly used. Coveted by collectors, these items cannot be send to new postcard collectors.

Remember that there were still some collecting club are exclusive membership and strictly by invitation only.

21.) Coffee Shop – Some coffee stores gave away promotional postcards, We would consider these as advertising postcards.

22.) Art Studio -Some art studio and gallery would also print their exhibition and guise them as postcards. This also serves dual purpose, Aside from promoting the event, The advertising postcard serves as a special invite.  We got some advertising postcards from YO Card Philippines before their company folded. Some movie companies issued advertising postcards before to promote their films.

23.) Postcrossing PH members – During a recent eyeball held last February 29, 2020, some local postcrossers printed some collectible postcards. I do not know if they are still available, What i know is that these are pre-ordered in advance. Ms. Jona Saavedra Panesa ( rabbit design ), Ms. Ruth Jacob ( blue heart), Ms.Venus Fortuna( Adarna bird ) Chinese Goddess by Ms. Rena Dylux from Beijing China. 

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24.) Thrift Bookstores – Second hand bookstores like Book For Less or Book Sale sometimes carry postcard books, These are printed in the United States or Europe and postcards can be detached and use for general mailing.

25.) Online Sites – Examples were Shopee, Red Bubble, Ebay,OLX, Zalora, Amazon, Carousell, Etsy, Zazzle, CardCow, Facebook Group – There are several wholesalers and retailers selling Philippine postcards from these sites.

Some are reproduction from well loved vintage postcards, while others are from China. One must be careful in buying postcards especially those from China or in bulk. There are people who ordered paying them using their credit card or even cash but the postcard did not arrive.  Try to factor local shipping rates and other taxes when buying postcard online.

These are just the few internet sites or places where one can purchase some postcards. It is better to ask around for those that were not listed in this short list. But small bookstore around the provinces would still carry postcards.

There were also some small and medium size art and fancy craft supply outlets which print their own line of postcards series.

Escolta Saturday market attracts buyers

First United Building , Escolta street , Santa Cruz, Manila-Philippines

Escolta street early in the 20th century

After several weeks and months of planning and conceptualizing , The big day had arrived.   A guided tour organized by Heritage Conservation Society  , Escolta Commercial Association ( ECA) and various concerned citizens to promote the area  and aimed to revitalized the former glory and splendor of Manila’s premier business district . Heritage Conservation Society Youth  organized a tour at around past 9:00am to  past 12:00 noon  a tour dubbed as  “Escoltara!” to explore the district and get to know its many Art Deco buildings and immense on the rich history of the place.

old magazines, books are on sale

a dealer together with an interested buyer examining an item for sale

The venue was of the Saturday market is the bare-walled space in the ground floor of the First United Building . The  dealers /sellers  area was set up with mats and tables .

stylist office chairs

There are about 30 dealers/ sellers  offering a wide range of items such as old cameras, postcards, old photos, fashion accessories , toys, vinyl records , books, clothes, art pieces  to  old chairs , furniture and even old soda bottles.

Ms. Gemma Cruz-Araneta also  bought some old postcards of Manila ( circa 1960’s) . The postcards were being sold from Php 200 each to Php 500 each depending on the date of issuance.

a volunteer of 98-B gallery selling T-shirts, customized mugs with escolta designs and umbrella

  a dealer holding vinyl record ( mint condition )

In history, Escolta had a lot of firsts: first ice cream parlor, first cinema, first elevator, first escalator   . The younger generation must appreciate the value of the place . Some of them prefer to go to malls or elsewhere.

The Masonic temple building( PNB) and Escolta  before the onset of the second world war as photographed from Santa Cruz Bridge

Photographer: Harrison Forman 1904-1978

This image is from the American Geographical Society Library of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee USA collections

I would also add to the long list of first, When Far Eastern University was founded by Dr. Nicanor Reyes Sr. in 1928 ( Institute of Accounts Business and Finance ) The institute  rented a space in the former masonic temple within the Escolta street. The review center would eventually moved to Avenida then eventually to its present location .

Old Fajaro Building ( second building occupied by then Institute of Accountancy ) scanned copy from the personal collection of the author

El Hogar building from an old postcard collection: Filipinas Stamp Collectors’ Club

El Hogar  is a beaux-arts building, designed by architect Senior  Ramon ( may also be spelled Ramond ) de Yrureta-Goyena ( may also be spelled Irrureta-Goyena)   and set by the Pasig River on Muelle dela Industria street in Binondo, was built as a wedding gift for the union of a Zobel daughter and a Peruvian count back in 1914. It housed the offices of the lending company El Hogar Filipino (hence derived the name) and the original headquarters of Ayala Life Insurance Company. After World War II, the building found itself in the hands of the Fernandez clan who still run the building till this day.

present day El Hogar building 

 Darling of Movie and Television

The building and its offices spaces is a favorite shooting place for television commercials , movies and architectural photo-shoots . Some people would refer the building as ” Studio Three ” . The building and its premises  has now become the darling of Manila’s TV and film production design world. Aside from being used as the backdrop for Globe and McDonald’s commercials, it’s also used as the setting for the music videos of indie groups Bamboo (“Hallelujah”), Cueshe (“Stay”), Sarah Geronimo’s remake of Foreigner’s “I Wanna Know What Love Is”.  It was even used in the opening scenes of  Mr. Peque Gallaga’s recently premiered “Pinoy Blonde”.  Another recent shoot  was the MTV ” Pusong Bato ” of Mr. Jovit Baldivino  . Filipino directors love to shoot the building in different angles,  The place and building can be stimulated to look like those found in  Paris, New York , London or even Madrid.

However the tangled electricity wires and telephone lines makes it difficult for photographers to take pictures. The broken windows of the building adds to the charm .

used soft drink bottles for sale

Space rental  cost P500 for the entire day , However sellers had to bring in their tables and chairs. The same space had been Berg’s Department Store, one of the major stores in Escolta in the 1940s. The concept of holding a Saturday market was inspired by this department store.

Heritage Conservation Society  and Escolta Commercial Association members souvenir shot in front of the First United Building

While the Escolta Saturday Market ( frequency once a week ) can be  similar to Salcedo Sunday MarketEaton Centris ( Sidcor) Sunday Market or  collecting clubs which have a monthly event where members and non-members hold their bourse/swap meeting. The Escolta market  will target the collectors and lovers of art.  The next event is slated on April 27, 2013 . The organizers wanted to have it on a weekly basis activity in the near future.

Note:  parking space is limited within the Escolta area.

Escolta walking tour and vintage items sale

The event slated on March 9, 2013 was organized by Heritage Conservation Society ( Youth ), Escolta Commercial Association, 98 -B Gallery , and group of concerned citizens which aimed to revive and promote Escolta and nearby streets . There will also be a ” Saturday RETRO Sale ” were old items ranging from clothes, fashion accessories , books and other collectibles items will be on sale.

6th Philippine Towns and Cities Conference

 poster of the event

The Heritage Conservation Society (HCS), Urban Partnerships Foundation (UPF), Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners (PIEP), the City Government of Manila, the Manila Historical and Heritage Commission, together with Far Eastern University, invite you to the 6th Annual Conference on Philippine Towns and Cities (PTC) at the FEU Auditorium, Far Eastern University on November 4, 2011, Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For the past six years, PTC has enhanced civic engagement with local governments units in order to inform and guide the LGUs on the proper care and utilization of a valuable asset — built heritage resources. This year’s focus will be on the revitalization of inner city districts, particularly those in the City of Manila.

We encourage architects, urban planners, property developers, policy makers, national and local government officials, engineers, planners, building officials and tourism officers, heritage property owners, and all those interested in heritage to attend. The urban revitalization of old city centers and historic districts is the new big thing for urban planning, property developers and local government policy. This would be a good opportunity for everyone to get insights on opportunities in the revitalization of historic districts.

Conference fess are Php1000 for both government and private participants; and Php200 for undergraduate students with IDs. For more information, contact Ms. Dorie Soriano or Ms. Luz Regalado of the Heritage Conservation Society at (02) 5466367, (02) 3534494, (0917) 8668853, (0906) 2625631 or e-mail hcs_secretariat@yahoo.com .

Biñan Heritage Tour

Mrs. Gemma Cruz- Araneta , Architect Dominic Galicia, Dr. Rosauro Sta. Maria and the rest of the tour group pose in front of the Alberto House

Last April 9, 2011 Heritage Conservation Society, United Artists for Cultural Conservation and Development City of Binan Inc, City of Binan authorities together with Cultural hoppers trooped to the historic town and visited some of the most important historical structures and places that shaped the present town.

The author woke –up early and rode LRT line 1 going to Gil Puyat station ( Buendia), then  took a bus going to the Binan, Laguna. Traffic is light compared to any other saturdays since it was a national holiday “ Fall of Bataan” also known as  Araw ng Kagitingan  (Day of Valor). The travel time took less than one hour and reached the Binan bus station shortly before the appointed 8:00 am. Together with two travel buddies (UST students of architecture) we walk towards the town plaza and went straight to the fast-food restaurant located within the middle of the town plaza.

We waited for a few minutes, and then the group saw Ms. Dorie Soriano (Executive Secretary of HCS) together with Ms. Sandra Ng and Ms. Luz Regalado (HCS staff). A few minutes later, our group met with Mrs. Gemma Guerrero Cruz- Araneta, Architect Dominic Galicia, Dr. Rosauro A. Sta. Maria (chairperson –United Artists for Cultural Conservation and Development, City of Binan, Mr. Bryan Jason Borja and the Binan Tourism employees in front of the town church.  Weather is a bit overcast with slight drizzle, but these not hamper the group (now well over two dozen) to start the historical tour.

San Isidro Church –  Standing on the original site where Juan de Salcedo together with the Augustinian priest erected the wooden cross when Biñan was founded and converted to Christianity. The first structure was started in 1690 and was finished in 1694. The earthquake of 1862 partially destroyed the church and a lightning struck the bellfry on Aug. 17, 1870.The whole structure was destroyed by two successive earthquakes on June 20 and 22, 1880. A new structure was built in 1892 which was again partially destroyed by a typhoon on Sept. 21, 1905.

Interior of the San Isidro de Labrador Church

The present structure was the result of the renovation started by then Mayor Jesus Garcia on Jan. 2, 1953. The church was completed, after several modifications of the design in 1963. On Feb. 5, 1968 the church was destroyed by a fire. Another rehabilitation ensued till it was finished on Jan. 11, 1970 placing the altar on the side and the pews on a semi -circular manner. Several years ago, the church altar was moved back to its original structure as it is now.

San Isidro de Labrador – patron saint of the farmer

The present structure is located at the center of the town, the original church that is said to date back more than 200 years –old.  Some of the religious statues inside the church dates back to the late 18th century.

The fertile soil of Binyang – this is how local would pronounced the name . The town’s  patron is San Isidro de Labrador/ Saint Isidore of Labrador –   saint of  the farmers or peasants,  For a time it was called Pueblo de San Isidro de Labrador when the town was still under Tabuco present day (Cabuyao) Laguna.

Old Municipal hall  – presently occupied by the police station – there are future plans to make this as a museum

The old town hall is currently being occupied by the police station, while the Alberto ‘s house is at the center of the main plaza.

Jose Rizal Monument – this monument is considered as one of the oldest monument of Rizal in Laguna.  Yuchengco Group of Company or YGC  had sponsored the re- painting and minor renovation of the monument that is located within the heart of the town plaza. This is one of the tallest Rizal monument not only in Laguna but the rest of the country. The monument was finished on  May 18, 1914 under the term of Mayor Agustin Gana and was supervised by G. Jose M. Rizal a relative of the National Hero. The project back then only cost the city government Php 4,000 to construct  . The iron grill fences were were later added on December 29, 1950 during the incumbency of Mayor  Jesus M. Garcia (1952-1959).

Located in a corner of the town plaza lies a covered court and is sometimes called pavilion / pabilyon by the people of the area. This used to be the Casa Tribunal during the Spanish era in 1872  by Captain Tomas  Vera Cruz.  It was said to have been restored in1894 then was destroyed by the Americans during the early 1900’s.

On February 5, 1920 the municipal council decided to make it a part of the plaza. The original walls were demolished on the first few days of June 1921.  In this place  in October 14, 1943 was the public ceremony officiated by the Japanese regime on the celebration of Philippine independence , while on July 4, 1946 the Philippine independence day from the Americans were celebrated.

Within the center of the present day pavilion is another cement structure shaped like sandal, according to our guide, this structure symbolized one of the town’s thriving sandal and footwear industry. The cement structure also served as an elevated stage area.

    Lugaw Queen

This restaurant is located at the back of  the Casa Tribunal and sells varieties of lugaw or rice porridge


 City of  Biñan  Seal

 Mayor Marlyn Alonte – Naguiat the current city mayor  envisioned the new seal of the city, as Biñan became the fourth city in the province of Laguna. The seal symbolized the following:

  • The Philippine sun used in the coat of arms whichis adopted from the Philippine flag, the primary rays represent the provinces which declared a state of war as soon as the first revolt was initiated against Spain which includes Laguna where the City of Biñan is geographically located.
  • The Jose Rizal monumentis used to depict the heroism of the National Hero of the Philippines, Rizal who had his first formal education at the City of Biñan under the tutelage of Maestro Justiniano Aquino Cruz who after a year and a half of tutelage advised the young Rizal to continue his education in Manila.
  • The large mortar and pestlesignify the bounty of subterranean and earth-related resources, thus emblematizing the agricultural activities of the city, the renowned “Puto Binan” and the “family” represents solidarity and the result of human industry and initiative in the areas of manufacturing and intellectual production.
  • The “2010” represents the year that Republic Act9740 was signed into law creating the City of Biñan and ratified by majority vote of its people during the  plebiscite held on February 2, 2010.
    • The torch and book signify the city’s continuous quest for knowledge and it’s commitment to providing quality free education to its constituents. The town is considered as  the educational center of the first congressional district of Laguna, having the most number of secondary and tertiary schools in the area. Most barangays in the city also have their own respective public elementary schools. There are 3 well-known universities in the town.
  • The industrial estates which are located within the city represent the budding industries located at the Laguna Technopark and the Laguna International Industrial Park.
  • The Heroes Monument symbolizes the bravery, sacrifice and valor of Biñan’s ancestors.
  • The pair of slippers had been adapted from the old Municipal Seal which, together with the cap represent the small businesses which originated from Biñan and entrepreneurial skills of its people.
  • The two twigs of laurel leaves each with twelve leaves symbolize the  24 barangays that constitute the demographic profile.
  • Their golden color signifies their individual verdant and abundant indigenous resources readily available for conversion into productive and profitable uses.
  • The elements enumerated above are encircled at the outer edge by a golden circle, wherein the words “City of Biñan” are written within.
  • The two golden stars flanking the words “City of Biñan” represent Service and Integrity.

The city council implemented the no plastic usage.  This encourage the residents to used the traditional “ bayong “ (native handbag) the bayong is one of the traditional products of the town and the province.

After a brief photo shoot of the old ancestral house and old municipal hall (now a police precinct) the group went to the several large colonial houses around the town.

Alberto House

The house was probably constructed from 1810 to 1820 making it almost 200 years old.This is the  ancestral home of  Doña Teodora Alonso also known as “The Alberto House”. the house is located within the town center.  The house is built on strong materials  and  its strategic location  showed the prominence of the owners to the town’s politics and church during that period.  The house is currently the center of an advocacy of the UACCD, The City Government of Binan and it’s people to save it from the ongoing dismantling and transfer to La Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac ,Bataan. According to Dr. Sta. Maria , the owner sold the house for a measly Php 500,000 to the developer.

Don Lorenzo Alberto Alonso

Dr. Jose P. Rizal y Realonda described his maternal grandfather, Don Lorenzo Alberto Alonso, in a letter to his friend Ferdinand Blumentritt. He said that he was a deputy for the Philippines in the [Spanish] Cortes (Court), and that he was educated in Europe and spoke German, English, Spanish and French. He was honored as a Knight of the Order of Isabel la Catolica. And he generously aided the Dominican mission in Indo-China.

Sir John Bowing

According to historical accounts, a distinguished guest Sir John Bowing 4th British Governor of Hong Kong (birth: October 17, 1792 death: November 23, 1872) (term of office: April 13, 1854 to September 9, 1859) visited the town sometime in 1856 and stayed at the Alberto’s elegant home.

 Family Background
Don Lorenzo Alberto- Alonso then 24- year- old was married to a 12-year-old girl from Vigan, Ilocos Sur named Paula Florentino around 1814 but they never had a child. Then a decade after, Brigida Ochoa Quintos from Pangasinan came into picture in Lorenzo’s life.

This Alberto-Quintos union resulted in five children, namely: Narcisa, Gregorio, Teodora Alonso Quintos Realonda (Jose Rizal’s mother), Manuel and the youngest, Jose, to whom Jose Rizal was named after and whose blood relation to the other siblings is in question.
Lorenzo and Brigida later moved to Calamba where their daughter, Teodora, married Francisco Mercado. The Mercados had 11 children, the seventh being Jose Rizal.

He was not married to Brigida (grandmother of Jose Rizal on the maternal side) hence making all her children with Lorenzo illegitimate. The Rizals of Calamba are related to the Albertos of Biñan. Biographers agree that there is a blood relationship between the two families.

Biñenses (people of Binan) would refer children born out of wedlock or illicit relationship  as anak sa lihis or anak sa labas  (illegitimate child). The Spanish term is the derogatory hija bastarda (bastard daughter). Rizal’s mother dropped the Alberto name and became simply Teodora Alonso.

According to theories , historical books and gossips here are some case presented:

Succession Issue – Dr. Rosauro A. Sta. Maria Jr.  has presented a theory to the group about the legitimacy of Jose Alberto. He theorized that the children of Lorenzo and Brigida might have talked about the succession of the family’s wealth and title after the death of their father, Lorenzo.

Being the youngest among the 5 siblings (in the case of Jose Alberto, it was a tradition in their family that the youngest in order to have the right to inherit the title Knight of the Order of Isabel la Catolica.) this title was given Don Lorenzo Alberto – Alonso as a part of his contribution to his valuable contributions to the Spanish regime. This may also include all properties that the family owned which may have included the house and land. Though he is their true blood brother, and as a consequence disowned his mother Brigida for the sake of the family.  Chances are if Don Jose Alberto did not agree with their other siblings,  they might loose all their inheritance and title.

Unfaithful WifeTeodora Formoso was married to Jose (Brother of Teodora Alonso). She had an affair with an officer of the civil guards whenever he was on his trip outside of the country.  His wife had committed grievous breaches of her obligations as a mother and as a wife during his absence.  When he arrived from Europe, He found his home deserted, and his children abandoned two to three days previous – (That was around January 1871)

Upon knowing what happened, Jose Alberto (youngest) tried to imprisoned Teodora Formoso inside their house.  Teodora Alonso tried to help her brother even against the objection of her husband. Don Francisco Mercado ( husband of Teodora Alonso) felt that the infidelity issue must be settled among themselves without his wife meddling.

“The poor man wearily sought the whereabouts of his wife until he found her. He planned to divorce her, but mother (Teodora Alonso) managed, with her pleas, to persuade him to live again with his wife.”

Source: Bassig , Ricardo C , 1975 ,published: Merriam School and Office Supplies Co. page 14,  Select Readings from Rizal

Attempted Murder – Teodora Alonso attempted to poison Teodora Formoso.

A few days after the incident, Teodora Alonso together with her eldest, Saturnina , brought food for Teodora Formoso . Immediately, Teodora Formoso put the food on the floor and called her dog to eat it. The dog died instantly and she accused her sister –in-law of an attempted murder.

“ A few days later, his vile wife (referring to Teodora Formoso), together with a lieutenant of the civil guard who had been a friend of the family, accused him (referring to her husband Jose) of trying to poison her, and named my mother as his accomplice. For this reason my mother was arrested by a fanatical mayor, a menial of the friars, called Don Antonio Vivecio del Rosario.”

Source: Bassig , Ricardo C , 1975 ,published : Merriam School and Office Supplies Co. page 14,  Select Readings from Rizal

Doña Teodora spent two and a half years in prison till she was finally acquitted after having been represented by Don Francisco de Marcaida and Don Manuel Marzano prominent lawyers in Manila.

The affair grew more complicated, until with some divine providence, the mayor begged for forgiveness. In the end she was acquitted.

 SuicideTeodora Formoso having been locked-up, might have think of ways to committing suicide, having been separated from her lover. With vengeance in her mind, she might have think of a better way to put poison in her food and poor Teodora Alonso or her husband is to be blame! What a better way to put the blame of her death to somebody else. Or some axe to grin?

old-folks believed that people who died of suicide during that time were not given final priest blessing. So having this kind of suicide plot may have save her soul from the eternal condemnation. However, this theory had not been proven in any historical accounts, but merely as historical gossips that still haunts Teodora Formoso.

Saturnina – Sister of Jose Rizal

Another Illegitimate Child – Teodora Formoso might have learned the secret affairs of Jose Alonso with her niece Saturnina . Soledad, the youngest child of Teodora Alonso and Francisco Mercado might had not been really their daughter but the daughter of Saturnina and Jose Alberto.

Soledad – Younger sister of Jose Rizal

The youngest Soledad was the prettiest according to eyewitnesses and different from the other siblings. It is important to note that Jose Alberto was a mestizo, and that Teodora and Saturnina once left their house and returned after sometime with a baby that Teodora claimed her own. Would this be a reason for Teodora Formoso to frame her up? However this theory is still to be proven.

References and Bibliography:

1Bassig, Ricardo C, (1975) published: Merriam School and Office Supplies Co. ,  Select Readings from Rizal . Page 14

2Craig, Austin (1913). Project Gutenberg EBook (Jan. 8, 2002 EBook #6867) Lineage, Life and Labors of Jose Rizal Philippine Patriot. page 46

3Craig, Austin (1913). Project Gutenberg EBook (Jan. 8, 2002 EBook #6867) Lineage, Life and Labors of Jose Rizal Philippine Patriot. page 57

4 Delos Reyes, Tomas and Schaerpf, Frederick (1983). Ilocos Review Vol.15.

5.Zaide Gregorio F. (1979) The Pageant of the Philippine History (volume 2) page 109

i-         I -Witness, GMA channel 7  News and Public Affairs and QTV channel 11 reported by Mr. Howie Severino

ii-       “Secrets locked in Alberto house about Rizal’s mother” by Ambeth Ocampo,Philippine Daily Inquirer, 06/13/2010

       Yaptinchay House is one of the oldest in the town, retaining much of the original facade. According to the present owner. The house dates back in the late 18th century and the Jose Rizal in some point of his life lived near the Yaptinchay residence. “ He is a visitor and a friend “ According to one of the guide, the young Rizal used to live within the street where an aunt ( Yatco family) also has a house.

We were greeted by the present owners of the Yaptinchay house and gave us some insights on how their forebears had lived.  One of us had asked on how are they related to Mr. Rudolph/ Rudolf Yaptinchay  (teenage heartthrob celebrity in the late 1980’s up to the   early 1990’ having been part of about half a dozen films, a commercial actor which endorsed “ Close-UP”, a popular brand of toothpaste in Philippine market.

According to them, they had already heard of the actor’s name before. “ Yaptinchay family clan is big, we might be related but somehow we had not met him”. according to Mr. Jimmy Yaptinchay  who cordially escorted the group and tried to show their large collection of table wares, furniture and old family portraits.

Architect Dominic Galicia, Mrs. Gemma Cruz- Araneta and Mr. Jimmy Yaptinchay ( red-collared shirt) at the background is the portrait of  Doña Agustina Alberto Sanchez de Caravaca de Yaptinchay, Portuguese, adopted by the Albertos, married to Don Guido Gana Yaptinchay

In an  acquaintance with Architect Bobby Quisumbing  who happen to be an active member of the Philippine Orchid Society and a  certified architect, He said that Mr. Rudolf / Rudolph Yaptinchay might be using a screen name . He also said that his mother is a Yaptinchay and most of the clan are now settled in Alabang , Muntinlupa.

“ Yaptinchays , Yatcos, Almedas were related  by blood and inter-marriages.  The house garden also reflects the hispanic style of garden with old- Chinese bathtubs and large pots (the large potteries was formerly used in food and water storage).

The author saw a specimen sized Dendrobium anosmum aka sanggumay an orchid attached to a Duhat tree  growing in a portion of the garden.  The orchid had just finished its blooms.

Sanggumay orchid

One of the owners also told the author that their orchid was her mom’s favorite and might have been growing in their garden for over 20 years!

Before the group left the house, I told one of the owners that they can start pruning the duhat tree in order for the orchid to thrive, the tree is getting shading and may affect the growth of the orchid.  The origin of the word sanggumay was derived from two Tagalog word “ sang-sang ” (nauseating smell) and “ umay ”or nakakaumay (tiring) this is in reference to the scent which emanates from this orchid species during its blooming season.

Sanggumay is one of the orchid species that were popularly grown by the people who lived in the provinces. The flowers are used as leis during its blooming time (usually February to late May) blooming season for this orchid may vary from one province to another.

water lilies are planted  in granite containers

Family Lines

According to the old folks and friends from the town ,  Old Binan, Laguna [ pronounced “Been-yang” by its natives ] resonated with the surnames of rich hacendero and merchant families like the Gana, Carillo-Trinidad, Alberto, Ocampo, Mercado, Yatco, Yaptinchay, Guico, Yapchulay, Lim-Aco, Lopez de Leon, Yap, Lim, Lao, Potenciano, Casas, Almeda, Gonzales, Cruz, Garcia, and Baylon.  And although the Binan dons and donas behaved oddly  towards the “principalia” families of neighboring Santa Rosa —  the Zavalla, Tiongco, and Perlas — the Binan and the Santa Rosa families eventually intermarried and became related.

Rows of colonial style houses lined this street

Architect Bobby Quisumbing also said that most of their relatives and friends from Biñan  have settled in Alabang , Muntinlupa, Parañaque and Las Piñas . They would come  to their Biñan residences only in certain occasions and during summer months.

Special Pork and Chicken Embutido

Right in front of the Yaptinchay house where a small unassuming store which sells newly process embutido made from pork and chicken. the price of each roll is about Php 7.00 each and most of us had bought several pieces of the embutido rolls before leaving the place. You can order by bulk and try to call the store days in advance for reservation.

 Contact information (0910-907-5305 )

Family Background:

Don Alberto Yaptinchay was born in 1822 Xiamen, China. To escape the poverty of the mainland, he took a slow boat bound for the Philippines at the age of fourteen. He landed in Manila and was adopted by the Spanish friars in Intramuros. They baptized and taught him the Christian way of life. Alberto was diligent in his chores and took the Catholic teachings seriously. He grew up at the seminary and saved his earnings through the work given to him by the Spanish friars.

“Alberto knew that he wanted to have his own land and once he had enough savings, he bought himself a stretch of rice fields in Binan, Laguna. Alberto worked hard, cultivating his land and turning it into one rich with harvest. Yet he did not forget the teachings of the Spanish friars. Alberto was also an active parishioner and had a special devotion for the souls in purgatory. He would offer masses for them and gave very generous donations for that intention. The townspeople soon grew to respect and love him, fondly calling him Bertong Intsik.”

Source: remembranceofthingsawry.wordpress.com/

Origin of  Biñan

Here are the said historical/ theoretical  claims  about the origin.  One theoretical claim that  Biñan had originated from the name of a big tree called Banyan or Banian (Ficus benjamina  Linn. ) then Spaniard hispanized the term and called the town Biñan .   Since the ficus trees was unusual to the area and people had not heard of it, it was then disregarded. Another theory is the town’s name might came from the Greek term, Banyan means trader or Mercader, According to our tour guide  , There are considerable number of traders flourishing within the town during the Spanish period  in which the current name Biñan might have originated.

Some parishioners  believed that the town’s name came from the word “Binyagan” which means baptized or baptismal place.  During the Spanish Era, the town was named Parochia de San Isidro de  Biñan which is now the emblem of the church.

Puto , Kutchinta and Pancit Biñan are among the town’s specialty served during our tour

The group then was treated to a sumptuous morning snacks which consisted of Pancit Biñan  , Puto Biñan white and brown colored topped with cheese , Kutchintang Biñan .

adobe wall draped with native Dischidias oinantha or Manaog Ka Irog

Almeda House – Used to be a Hospital during the American period. The house is very unique with its elaborate ceilings, paintings and an assortment of family collection from old family portraits, glassware and even coco-cola  pin logos.

collection of coca-cola pins with different olympic logos

door leading to the family sala

intricate wood carvings in an old family chest

Casas Family House also called RAM House according to our guide ,  The Casas family moved back to Biñan, it was not to the maternal house given by the spinster Josefa Yaptinchay y Gana, the sister of Kapitang Maria.  The said house was then being used by the Japanese Imperial Army as headquarters.  Most probably, the family stayed at the bahay na bato owned by Oneng’s brother, Antonio Yaptinchay Almeda married to Ricarda Sta. Ana Medel on A. Mabini Street going towards de La Paz, as Trining gave birth to her second child in the intersuelo of the said house on February 5, 1945.  Trining Cuyegkeng could not be brought to the hospital as the guerrillas were entering Biñan to liberate the town from the Japanese forces.

Pacita Casas is said to be a school editor , educator and then after the war, She  got married to Monching Mercado in 1946 and settled in the Casas maternal house till the growing commercialization and pollution in the area forced Monching and Pacing to relocate to Alabang.  Monching Mercado, a Biñan guerrilla leader, was the son of Mariano Mercado and Romana Gana.  The Mercado maternal house was also in A. Mabini, now Jacobo Gonzales, Street towards San Antonio, almost opposite the eskenita, now known as Noli Gana Road, connecting A. Mabini, now Jacobo Gonzales, street to the street now called General Capinpin.

In the late 1950’s Monching and Pacing established RAM (Ramon, Amparo, Ma. Paz) Food Products, first in Biñan, at the backyard of the Mercado maternal house, and, then, in Barrio Pulo, Cabuyao.  Amparo Gana Mercado, sister of Monching, was a Home Economics graduate of Philippine Women’s University functioned as the food technologist.

Bahay Kubo ( Nipa Hut) in the middle of the lake

Palaisadaan

After the tour of some of the town’s oldest houses and marker the group went to several fish pond resorts and restaurants. Laguna being a lakeside town is known for their freshwater fishes.

School Marker

The group also toured the historical marker of the school were Dr. Jose Rizal under the tutelage of Maestro Justiniano Aquino Cruz during his stay in the town.  The area was once the home of Maestro Justinano Cruz .The “Caballeros de Rizal” (Knights of Rizal) raised the money for the historical marker which was erected in December 30, 1945. The historical marker is located in Gen. Mateo Capinpin Street .

This is the place where Jose P. Rizal studied during his stay in Biñan, now only the adobe walls and old tamarind tree, bunga china  and Ilang-Ilang trees are found. concrete walls serves as a barrier for trespassers.

Hibiscus hybrid  serves as a focal point in a garden near the home of Dr. Sta. Maria

Heroes Memorial Marker

The heroes historical marker was built on the corner of Jacobo Z. Gonzales Street and Malvar Street. The marker commemorates all the heroes of the town and was inaugurated on November  30, 1960 during the term of Mayor  Pedro H. Escueta.

This is an old camalig ( storage house for rice) with old tisa roof  still visible . This storage house is located near the  heroes memorial marker

New Biñan Town Hall with Royal Palm

This new town hall was just inaugurated in 2010 located a few kilometers away from the old poblacion. Residents also call the new town hall as ANNEX.

The tourism office had a display of products that are  locally manufactured

office of the mayor

The author would like to thank all the people and tourism officials of the town for warmly accommodating the group.

For more information about the town:

United Artists for Cultural Conservation and Development, City of Biñan Inc. (UACCD) e-mail uaccd.binan@gmail.com or contact 0917-8472476

Tourism Office:  Ms. Jaz Alonte (0927-2818221)

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