If you’ve been reading the news these days about the Noynoy Aquino administration, you probably heard about the opposing camps in his administration: the Balay Group and the Samar Group. While The Urban Roamer does not dwell on all this political talk and intrigue, I thought it would be interesting to devote some space on this blog today to know about the home bases of these camps, after whom these groups were named in the media.
Right at the southwest of Cubao’s commercial district lies a sprawling complex hidden and secured by high concrete walls is the Araneta compound, known as the Bahay na Puti or the White House because of the mansion’s paint color, not just because it’s trying to emulate its more famous namesake in Washington DC. (though given a scion’s political ambitions, its implied meaning may change) Or in the Ilonggo language of Panay-Negros where the Aranetas and Roxases came from, it’s the Balay na Puti, or put simply, Balay.
This is the residence of the landed Araneta clan who is the owner and developer of Cubao’s commercial district AKA Araneta Center. An oasis of sorts in the midst of the bustling, frentic activity in this part of the city, which by itself is a novelty these days.
If you’re riding the MRT northbound to Cubao, you won’t miss the Balay area even though you won’t see the mansion itself. The sight of a lot of little white tents is something you can’t ignore, housing the many fighting cocks being breeded by the current Araneta patriarch, which is a cockfighting enthusiast bases on what I heard.
But more than a rich clan’s enclave, the Balay also serves as a venue for important political functions being the home base of the political group known in the media as the Balay Group, allied with the clan’s most visible and prominent member, Mar Roxas. Roxas, who is related to the Aranetas through the maternal side, happens to be the leader of the Liberal Party, the party which Pres. Noynoy Aquino belongs to, not to mention Aquino’s closest friend and ally. Thus, during the 2010 elections, the house served as a center of the Liberal Party’s operations.
And yes, the house also serves as a venue for personal functions hosted by Roxas, as it was used as the reception venue of his wedding with broadcaster Korina Sanchez the year before.
Then there’s the other group vying for influence in Noynoy Aquino’s administration who just hate Mar Roxas’ gut so much. Styling themselves as “Noynoy volunteers,” they used an old house along Samar Avenue in South Triangle, a few kilometers north of Cubao as their base of operations during the same elections. Upon Noynoy’s victory, this group evolved into this other sphere of influence became known as the Samar Group.
It is said that this house is owned by a property developer branded as heritage destroyer by some people named Jerry Acuzar. Incidentally, Azucar’s property development firm is building a high-rise condominium along EDSA near the Samar Mansion.
Despite looking kinda dilapidated look with the paint, it is said the house boasts amenities as a mansion this big should have. In fact, it was used as a billeting venue for the participants at a recent biking competition.
Even with such a high-profile venue, the house and the rest of the Samar Avenue is a quiet, low-key neighborhood. This despite, the fact of its proximity to EDSA and a couple of giant broadcast studios located nearby.
© The Urban Roamer