TEXT & PHOTO: Kaycie Gayle
Occupying an entire corner block in a bustling heritage district is a grand mansion of memory and history. It is a revered structure with a many-storied past making it a signature landmark. This vintage sophisticated architectural design displays its timeless design. Which makes it noticeable to anyone who passes by it and catches curiosity. Where one can now explore and travel back in time as it has now opened its doors to the public by being the Museum of Philippine Social History the first and only museum of its kind in the country that delving into social history.
Pamintuan Mansion Historical Marker
The museum provides a glimpse of the result of both local and foreign influences from successive colonial experiences. It boasts exhibits, artwork, and collections depicting the everyday life of the affluent and ordinary Filipino people in the past and a panorama of their wealth while also highlighting the diversity of Filipino culture, belief systems, and traditions over time. Hence it features houses, belongings, clothing, food, utensils, art forms and leisure of Filipinos and how these have remained, changed, or disappeared.
The physical appearance elicits an impeccable century-old mansion. From the outside down to its interiors certainly unveil its glorious days. Hence, upon entering the house through a grand ‘entresuelo’ or front staircase landing it hints you to discover that there is more to this old house and its opulence becomes more vivid. From this part, you can view the church and other important landmarks in the town while ushering you to the entrance of the mansion.
Well designed detailed door
None but the best construction materials were used in this mansion. Its grandeur has been reflected through its Moorish architecture similar to that in Toledo Spain featuring period furnishings & art. It’s recurring arches, buttresses, lean pillars complement the architectural style and its striking embellishments are expressed through its ‘calado” or fretwork. Making this structure as a testimony of Kapampangan’s craftsmanship. Meanwhile, its flooring is designed with Baldozas mosaicos or Machuca tiles with floral and geometric designs on some parts and chiaroscuro patterns with black and white tiles on others. It has a tin can ceiling that has distinct Repoussé floral designs and adorned with elegant chandeliers which now illuminates the place and replaced liquid petrol lamps. Its metal stamped walls are adorned with family pictures kept in art nouveau frames. The doors are meticulously wood carved and have ornamental transoms. Its Ventana or windows is a sliding style with a wooden panel in a grid pattern. Its pane has been changed to glass from Capiz shell. It also has ventanillas which literally means ‘small window’ that is actually sliding panels between the floor and windows and protected by wrought iron grills which allow more air and light. While its carefully preserved staircase is made of solid Philippine hardwood which leads guests to the living room and spacious corridor
Staircase made solid Philippine hardwood
The rooms inside the house also suggested luxury that were converted into nine galleries with each having its own charisma and design. It features different aspects of historical Filipino social life and culture showcasing preserved antique items and essential artifacts.
Gallery 1: Pamintuan Mansion History
Galleries one to three are located on the ground floor of the mansion which was allegedly a capacious garage area where the type of carriages like the ‘carruajes’ and ‘quilez’ of the family is being parked. The First Gallery features the Pamintuan Mansion History where narratives are displayed on the wall. It has a wrought iron gate with two passages which were said to be patterned after the old custom where the entrance for males and females is different. Men pass through the left while women pass on the right. A noticeable part of this is the beautiful flooring designed with Baldozas mosaicos which were purportedly the original tiles when the mansion was constructed. Should guests want to sit and relax for a while benches are provided in its corridor.
Gallery 1 with Baldozas mosaicos in floral and geometric designs on the floor and chiaroscuro pattern with black and white tiles on the stairs
Gallery 2: Traditional Clothing and Textile and the Art of Weaving
Meanwhile Gallery Two showcases Clothing and Textile and feature materials used in the Art of Weaving. It presents various country’s native fabrics, and also other tools used for textiles like ‘plantsang de uling’ or charcoal iron, sewing machine, and its other tools. While Filipino traditional clothing and accessories are also part of this gallery collection.
Gallery 3: Then and Now
On the other hand, Gallery Three is Then and Now which boasts the changes in fashion across time. It displays how fashion was different for each social class and race. It also presents the corresponding modern look of each fashion style by sliding the covers of the pictures.
Located on the second floor of the mansion are galleries four to nine.
Gallery 4: Filipino Architecture
Gallery Four displays Filipino Architecture: Houses. Ostensibly, this part of the house was the living room. It has a thin door that serves as a passage to the other room, which was said to be where the slaves at that time pass through. Moreover, furniture are arranged as to how ‘alipin sa gigilid’ or servant in the corners passes through the house. This gallery now features scale model of architectural pieces of traditional houses, like the Rako which is a two-story house in the Batanes Islands. ‘Bahay na bato’ which was popular during the Spanish colonization in the country, Bale or the no-nail house of the Ifugao, Lepa or the houseboats of Sama Dilaut who are sea gypsies and consider the sea as their home and the Torogan, which is a traditional house, symbolizing of high social status among Maranao people of Lanao, Mindanao, Philippines.
Gallery 5: House Furniture
Gallery Five features House Furniture. Reputedly, this was the room of the owner’s children on his first wife. Inside it is the spiral staircase to an upper room which was said to be the room of the owner’s priest son. It showcases vintage furniture made of antique woodwork such as four-post canopy bed, drawers, chairs and other home furnishings. There are also ‘Ivory Santo’ or religious art images and statuaries made of ivory display.
Four-post canopy bed
Gallery 6: Filipino Music
Gallery Six highlights Filipino Music. Allegedly, this area was the balcony that turned into a library when the mansion was occupied by the central bank. It now currently features a stage wooden deck with table and chairs, similar to a set up of a lounge music bar where guests can listen to songs recorded as early as 1896 by notable Filipino singers.
Filipino Music Gallery
Gallery 7: Filipino Games
Gallery Seven boasts Filipino Games, this room was purportedly, the dining area. It now allows guests to experience play traditional toys such as sungka, and enjoy playable board games such as chess and other paraphernalia such as jackstone.
Filipino Games Gallery with students playing on museum’s toys and gameboards
Gallery 8: Filipino Mythical Figures
Gallery Eight introduces guests to Filipino Mythical Figures. This part of the mansion was ostensibly, the guest room. It is now a dark room with a native rocking chair and artworks where local mythological creatures are the subjects.
Filipino Mythical Figures Gallery
Gallery 9: Filipino Kitchen
Gallery Nine shows Filipino Kitchen which allegedly is the real kitchen where the house ‘banggera’ is. ‘Banggera’ is a wooden dish rack that extends outside the kitchen window used to air-dry the plates and cups washed. It is strategically placed in this area as the water used in washing the dishes goes straight to ‘sapang balen’ or town’s creek. The gallery features narratives about contemporary street food, an antique inlaid wooden dining table and chairs, chinaware, earthenware ‘palayok’ or pot, and marble mortar and pestle. It also features Filipino market scenes.
Antique Dining Table
Other Interesting Features of the Museum
There are interesting parts of the mansion which if given an opportunity you can actually explore to discover more. Top on the list is the rooftop. Inside Gallery Five is the two-floor separate spiral staircases that is small enough to accommodate one person at a time. This leads you to a rooftop tower. The first landing will be a vacant room, but by climbing up more leads you to a veranda from where you could view the townscape. On top of this is where a statue stood up the roof. One could actually say this is the best part of the mansion and a good way to end your tour. Another notable part of the mansion is the tunnel which can be challenging to get into for claustrophobic individuals. Reputedly, the tunnel is a secret passage from the house to Sto. Rosario Cathedral. However, this has been blocked when the Central bank of the Phillippines occupied it for safety reasons. And then there’s also the Central Bank of the Philippines or Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) room, where the original vault that has been used is stored. Allegedly this was originally the Master’s bedroom.
Spiral stairs to the rooftop
The mansion has been preserved but also has been renovated in some parts to provide modern amenities to its guests. It now has an Audiovisual room for lectures, art exhibits, and other public programs. Then there’s the E-learning Room for online lessons on Philippine history. A scenic elevator is now installed for the elderly and persons with disabilities. Also, a clean restroom has been constructed inside the mansion with running water. Ostensibly, it was said that during the era that this mansion was built the restrooms were located outside or back part of the house to avoid the unpleasant smell.
One can say that this mansion is properly preserved. From the structure itself to the furniture, paintings and statues all are well maintained and cleanliness supervision is at its best.
Additional Details About the Museum
Anyone is free to enter this elegant heritage museum. This museum is big enough to accommodate 500 visitors daily. At the moment of visit, students playing board games while some are exploring the place were spotted as the guests of the mansion. Anyone who would come would be engaged as it is a museum that is an interactive one. It is open to anyone like for locals both young and old who would like to know more about our national and local culture and history. Moreover, foreigners from countries who are into heritage preservation even appreciate this historical edifice.
Guests feedback notes
Slice of History about Pamintuan Mansion
This revered legendary structure etched a mark due to its many-storied past. The mansion was built sometime in the 1890s by an affluent family who has a fabulous fortune from their vast agricultural lands and was said to be the first Capampangan millionaire named Don Mariano Pamintuan and wife Valentina Torres. This mansion was intentionally constructed as a wedding gift for their only son Florentino who later became the mayor of Angeles in the 1900’s under the American rule. Since then it became the ancestral house of the Pamintuan clan. This is where Don Florentino, lived with his first wife Mancia Sandico Pamintuan and four children, However, after his wife’s death, Don Florentino would marry a second time to Tomasa Centeno, who was allegedly determined the shape, form, and artistry of the mansion that guests marvel at today. As hearsay goes, this is credited from the refined taste of the lady despite being a tenant’s daughter. From which the influence could have been from the training in a convent that Florentino had sent her before marrying her and their travels in Europe.
During the Philippine–American War, Don Florentino, a member of the Revolutionary Committee, opened his house when Gen. Antonio Luna reconnoitered the town and chose the mansion as headquarters for the First Philippine Army in April 1899. Then after in May 1899, it became the official residence in Angeles of the first president of the Philippines when Don Florentino took in General Emilio Aguinaldo and his staff and thus briefly served as the seat of government of the First Philippine Republic before the declaration of Philippine independence on 12 June 1899.
When the Americans occupied Angeles, the mansion served as Major General Arthur MacArthur, Jr., headquarters in August 1899. When a period of peace settled over, the Pamintuans returned to take up residence in their still-beautiful house. Where they hosted socials and received visitors. However, eventually, the owners have to abandon the house when they sought refuge in Spain and the United States after being threatened by the Hukbalahap. During World War II, Fort Stotsenburg was carpet-bombed and the Japanese Invasion ruled over the country the Japanese Kamikaze pilots occupied the mansion from 1944 to 1945. Upon Liberation, the house was rented to the United Services Organization Inc. or USO which is an organization that provided entertainment to American servicemen and converted the mansion into a clubhouse from 1946 until 1947. The following year, in 1948 the house was leased to a Chinese who transformed it into the Angeles Hotel.
In 1959 Pedro Tablante bought the property from the Pamintuan family. Though purportedly his family never resided in the mansion instead the house was leased to the local government in 1964, becoming an annex of the city hall and made it into a tourism office and as a venue for special occasions in the city.
When the Angeles Historical Society and National Historic Institute, was looking for a sponsor to preserve the place, fittingly the Central Bank of the Philippines was also looking for a suitable location for its regional cash and clearing unit and considered purchasing this historic property. Hence, in 1981, Central Bank acquired the property from the Tablante-Tungol family with a provision to preserve the house, even if it is for adaptive re-use. The Central Bank used the ground floor as the clearinghouse for Central Luzon while the second floor was reserved for development as a museum. Hence, it was used as a regional office from 1993 to 2009. Eventually to ensure that the ownership of the Pamintuan House remains with the government. The Central Bank decided to turn over the property to the Department of Finance (DOF) by way of a property dividend. The DOF later transferred the Pamintuan mansion to the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) through a memorandum of agreement on June 17, 2010. It was then named as one of the country’s heritage sites and transformed it into the Museum of Social Science and History of the Philippines which is the first of its kind in the country.
This is a museum that imbues to value social history and culture and inspire social responsibility. It is a heritage edifice that allows its local guests to relate themselves in the present while understanding their identity through experiencing the past. This historic landmark is a witness to the history and heroism of the country’s people hence worthy to be preserved for the next generations. Looking at the place was like seeing the past. It is a sum of vintage culture and history.
Second level grand entrance & foyer
Some Helpful Tips
Visiting the museum is good for solo tourists and group visits as well, however, the latter is encouraged to coordinate with the bureau ahead of time to be accommodated properly. Shall you consider to explore the museum, the best time to go is in the afternoon to get the best view of the city sunset from the rooftop.
Where to Find it
Explore Mansion De Don Florentino Pamintuan at its finest by locating it on 1251 corner Miranda street and Sto. Entiero Street, Sto. Rosario Angeles City Pampanga, Central Luzon, 2009, Philippines.
Acknowledgments to TheUrban Historian, Positively Filipino, AngelesCityTourism.ph, Views From The Pampang and VistaPinas.