One of the lasting legacies of Spanish rule in the Philippines is the Antillean style of architecture. Common in many old residential houses, this architectural style can also be seen in convents, municipal and provincial offices as well as schools. With adobe walls as its structural foundation and wood as the main material for the large open-layout top levels, the Hispanic style that originated from Central America was suitable for the Philippine climate, and especially against the natural disasters that constantly ravage it.
Despite the vestiges of Spanish, Chinese and Filipino influences in local culture, the bahay na bato ("stone house", as the Antillean residential architecture was popularly called) is unique to the Philippines. The grandeur of structural materials, beauty of intricate details and opulence of the furniture are signs of affluence and the stature the family holds in society.
When the Americans came to the country at the turn of the 20th-century, eclectic style and Art Nouveau were introduced, adding significant alterations to the classic Antillean architecture. But it was the ArtDeco movement that left the most impression, giving us architectural gems as in the Commonwealth Era mansions that survived the war.
Philippine architecture has grown along with the progress of the nation and its people. But memories of a glorious past are still imbedded in a nation’s history. And if the walls of these old houses could only speak, they would be singing songs and poems from the tertulias and bailes that once filled its halls.