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.”


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


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 or contact 0917-8472476

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

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