The town of Ivana is not only known for the most talked about “Honesty Coffee Shop“, it also has a Unesco heritage building that is popularly known as House of Dakay.
The house of Dakay is probably the most visited house in Batanes. It is also the oldest house in Batanes which is being maintained by Lola Ida – one of the oldest women on the island. So many things have changed since the first time I visited her house (2004), I noticed that the wooden floor is dusty and the house is no longer well kept. I also noticed that Lola Ida has gotten really weak and nurses painful joints much more now since its “winter” season in Batanes.
I know she couldn’t recognize me but everyone recognize her since almost all of the magazines that features Batanes have a photo of her in it. For the benefit of the first time Batanes visitor like Gail, Marc, Nina and Karla, we asked Lola Ida some questions about the house and her experiences. Her answers were pretty much the same as the first time I heard it but it never gets boring. Floresida Estrella popularly known as Lola Ida was not born in Batanes, she was born in Visayas where she spent her childhood with her family in Silay City.
Being the most photographed person in Batanes, she already knows what to do each time she welcomes tourists in her house. She poses beside the thick wooden door while sharing her stories with a humorous twist.
The House of Dakay was constructed of lime and stone in 1887, originally owned by Luisa Estrella, who bequeathed it to her favorite nephew Jose Dakay Estrella. Lola Ida shared that their family went back to Batanes in 1939, she was seven years old then when her grandaunt Luisa Estrella bequeathed the house to her father. One of only 5 structures that withstood the strong earthquake of September 13, 1918, which totally leveled the town of Ivana to the ground. Its native cogon roof is changed every 30 years: 1917, 1947, 1977 and the most recent was summer of 2007.
Lola Ida’s hospitality is beyond compare given the fact that she never gets any monetary compensation for entertaining each tourist who visits her house. Now that Lola Ida is weak, I hope someone can extend help to her considering her current condition and I think the local government should also extend their assistance in maintaining the house since its one of the island’s tourist attraction.
I remember the last time I visited her, she requested that I send her a copy of her photograph and put some notes at the back much like a postcard. During my last visit on her house last January 2005, I promised myself that I will give her something on my next visit so before leaving her house, I gave her my extra Muslim Scarf as a token.
Sad News: Lola Ida or Florestida Estrella passed away last January 2014, lets pray for her.