March 13, 2012 – Sooo Pinoy Food Tour Day 2 in Iloilo – Previous Post: Breakthrough Restaurant in Iloilo.
Im such a huge fan of heritage sites, old houses and anything that reminds of our country’s colorful history. After having an overwhelming array of Pinoy Dishes from Breakthrough Restaurant we headed to Camiña Balay nga Bato for yet another interesting dish that can be called an authentic Ilongo food.
Fine Dining circa 1865
The house was constructed in 1865 and previously called Avanceña House but now popularly known as Camiña Balay nga Bato. Located at Villa Arevalo in Iloilo City where famous seaside restaurants can be found, this century and a half old ancestral house is definitely one of the city’s architectural wonder.
Hablon Weaver in Iloilo
It was humid outside when we arrived in the ancestral house but since the walls of the house are made from stone, the temperature was a little bit cooler.
While we were waiting for Mr. Eugene Jamerlan – Iloilo’s counterpart of Manila’s Carlos Celdran, we toured around the house and saw an old lady weaving Hablon Fabric using the wooden handloom-weaving machine. Hablon refers to the hand woven textile usually made of jusi (banana fiber), piña (pineapple fiber), locally grown silk threads, cotton and other indigenous materials that creates an attractive textile of different color pattern.
Hablon is normally used for patadyong skirt, bandanas, blankets and table runners. Hablon making is still currently being revived in the town of Miagao as a cottage industry to preserve the old traditional way of weaving.
Inside Camiña Balay nga Bato (photo courtesy of http://www.thefoodieschoice.com/)
One portion of the ground floor was transformed into an antique and souvenir shop that sells old wooden Santo’s, Red Sandstone carvings, sinamay, Hablon, Bags made from Buli, paintings, antique wares, tsokolateras, batirol (made of guava branch) and other food products like tablea, sinamak and the finest muscovado sugar from Antique. The inner part of the ground floor serves as an office and board room since the owner of the house also owns a bank located in Guimaras.
Our tour guide finally arrived and gave us some facts about the layered architecture of the house which is also called Arquitectura Mestiza. For the unfamiliar, Arquitectura Mestiza according to Council of Europe is a mixed architecture because the structures were built in stone and wood. It was likewise referred to by locals as bahay ng kastila (Castilian house) or bahay na bato at kahoy (house of stone and wood).
Our Tour Guide inside Balay na Bato
Eugene – our tour guide led us to the escalera (main stairway) and upon reaching the century old door, we were welcomed by Luth Camiña – owner of the old house and the wife of the descendant of the Avanceña Family. Few steps from the old wooden door is the huge oratoryo where each member of the family can pray in front of century old saints and a 50 year old prayer book.
Pinipig and Biscocho
After visiting the Oratoryo, towards left from the escalera is where you can find the Sala or receiving room. With so much antique hard wood furniture, old jars, paintings, wooden cabinets and other ornaments. What impressed me is their beautiful Pressed Tin Ceiling made in Pritil Manila.
Pressed Tin Ceiling
For me, the dining area was the last and the best part of the tour.. Why? Because we experienced how does it feel eating delicious Ilongo food in nostalgic setting. We enjoyed their Molo Soup – a popular ilongo soup with ground pork wrapped in a Wanton wrapper.
Tsokolatera and Batirol
Along with the delicious soup, they also served their Kutsinta and tostado’s / tiny sliced biscocho paired with super thick tsokolate made from pure tablea.
Delicious Molo Soup
Dining in Balay nga Bato is definitely one of the most memorable experience I had during our entire Iloilo Food tour. I believe theres a lot more to discover in Iloilo and I will definitely go back for more:)
Camiña Balay nga Bato is open for visitors from Mondays to Saturdays (halfday). Visiting the souvenir shop is free for visitors but if you want to visit the second floor and experience their famous “The Tsokolate Experience” you have to call in advance for reservations. The tour costs Php150 per pax for a minimum of 5 persons per group.
Camiña Balay nga Bato circa 1865
20 Osmena Street, Villa De Arevalo
Iloilo City, Philippines 5000
Balay na Bato on Facebook
(033) 336-3858 / (033) 396-1927 /Fax: (033) 336 5075