BY PEARL SOCIAS
THE passing references to the rich architecture of the Philippines, particularly on the sophisticated houses constructed during the sugar boom, give scant justice in the global arena. Domestic dwellings, too, have significance that needs the limelight: “experiencing these structures has layers of additional influence on architectural styles and a desire on the part of the patrons to participate in an international architectural culture.”
“Houses that Sugar Built: An Intimate Portrait of Philippine Ancestral Homes,” a first in international publishing, officially launched in the historic Yusay-Consing Ancestral House, popularly known as the Molo Mansion, in the City of Iloilo on January 27, 2023. The 260-page publication mainly featured 23 dwellings, with intimate stories that would transport the readers back to a time of the residences’ prime.
The book is a “passion project” of Gina Consing-McAdam, daughter of former Iloilo governor Timoteo Consing Sr. and Rosario Yusay, together with architecture photographer Siobhàn Doran and in partnership with SM Prime.
It explores the largely uncharted ancestral homes built during the sugar industry’s glory days in the three main sugar-producing provinces of Iloilo, Negros Occidental, and Pampanga. An overview by Ian McDonald’s places the houses cited in the book alongside the mainstream architectural spectrum.
The one-for-the-books event, according to SM Supermalls President Steven Tan, is a manifestation of SM’s endeavors for the responsible development of various aspects of the community, such as the edifices that honor the past and serve as visual anchors of the future.
“SM Prime plays a pivotal role in the revival of the Molo Mansion. This historic landmark stands today as a shining example of adaptive reuse, a testament to our dedication to preserve and honor our cultural legacy,” said Tan.
Citing Hans T. Sy, Chairman of the Executive Committee of SM Prime Holdings, one of the core values of the giant property developer is that the country’s rich cultural heritage is preserved for future generations through sustainable development and environmental responsibility.
Wherein working on some of the iconic landmarks, such as the Iloilo Central and Terminal markets, Chinabank in Binondo, and the Jones Bridge in Manila, incorporate the use of recycled materials, low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints, energy-efficient lighting, and other green features.
Of kinship and friendship
Gracing the event were owners, scions, families, and custodians of the houses featured—each of whom has shared anecdotes to aid in, as the author herself said, “raising the visibility of a quite niche canon.”
“All these structures were all family homes at one point. So, thank you to all the families for allowing us into their homes,” Tan added.
Representing Iloilo City mayor Jerry P. Treñas during the gathering was his daughter, Ms. Raisa Treñas-Chu.
Capping the night in the best way possible was the Philippine Fashion Fair.
The successful celebration of heritage was made more colorful with the designs of a diverse pool of creatives such as Arnel Papa, Jor-el Espina, Lin-ay by Binky Pitogo, Louis Claparols, Orias by Vin Orias, PQLA by Puey Quiñones, Satren, and Zarah Juan.
Donning one of the pieces was Miss Iloilo 2024, Alexie Caimoso Brooks, who was also awarded the special title of Miss SM City Iloilo./PN