Located in the developing city of Taguig near the old sprawling military complex of Fort Bonifacio, Acacia Estates is a massive development project of DMCI. Yup, that same DMCI who’s behind that monstrosity near Rizal Park that sticking out like an ugly sore thumb. But in fairness to them in this case, Acacia Suites does not have any controversy in its development, at least from what I’ve heard of.
By itself, Acacia Estates is a complex of clusters of mid-rise residences which is itself its own with various facilities, stores, even a supermarket within its premises. But perhaps the structure that stands out in this modern urban development is its events place, which takes the form of a grand old house like the ones that used to stand in the city during the Spanish and American eras.
This 3-storey structure, called the Casa Real, was built based on an actual house itself, the old grand house of the Tuason family which used to stand along Sociego Street in the Sampaloc/Santa Mesa area in the City of Manila. Originally built around the 1930s, the Tuason house (also called the Tuason Mansion or Sociego Mansion) was home to one of the city’s illustrious families, the Tuasons
THE TUASONS AND THEIR OLD RESIDENCE
The family itself has an interesting history as they descended from a fellow named Son Tua, a Chinese immigrant who came to the country to engage in the galleon trade. He also helped in the Spanish resistance during the British occupation from 1762-64. In return, the Spaniards were grateful enough to award him large tracts of property from Sampaloc and Santa Mesa all the way up to present Marikina. In return, Son Tua was baptized into the Catholic faith and became known as Antonio Tuason.
One can gauge how much scope the land they owned before by looking at the modern map of Metro Manila and check out the streets named Tuazon. Chances are they were named after one of Don Antonio’s descendants and the locations of those streets serve as reminders of what this clan used to own. (perhaps still own in some cases?) In fact, the planned National Capitol as well as the campus of the University of the Philippines in Diliman were actually acquired by the government from the Tuasons. And yes, speaking of descendants, the First Gentleman Mike Arroyo is a Tuason descendant too from the mother’s side of the family.
Going back to the story of the Tuason House, at some point the family moved out of the property and the house was leased out to studios which found it an a grand and ideal venue to shoot films and TV shows, especially those of the horror genre. There have been stories about the house being haunted itself though I somehow doubt those stories. Either that or the ghost does not mind the crew that goes there to shoot every once in a while.
However, the grand old house had to give way to “progress,” or in this case, yet another high-rise residential condominium. DMCI managed to acquire the property in 2012 which was being seen as a site of their development which would become Sorrel Residences.
But I suppose the DMCI folks, to their credit, appreciated the grandeur of the old Tuason residence that they decided to take it as an inspiration for the events place they were planning to build in another development of theirs in Taguig, the vast property which would become Acacia Estates.
The result was the opening of Casa Real in 2013. While the exteriors look pretty much similar to the old Tuason house, it must be clarified that the case of Casa Real is not the same as that of some old houses at the Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bataan that were rebuilt to the way they originally looked using most of the same materials. Casa Real is technically a new structure and none of its original foundations were no longer used.
However, some of the old house’s elements made its way here like some of the narra and ipil flooring, concrete balusters, and the gargoyle heads. The rest of the house’s elements are modern but were made such that they remain faithful to the original layout of the Tuason house, something that DMCI’s press release called “creative reconstruction.”
Casa Real has two upper floors which serve as function halls for any event that would be held there. The lower ground floor has been converted into a branch of a dining place and bar called Wingman, which serves probably some of the best chicken wings.
Regardless of the details, there is no doubt Casa Real today stands as a unique landmark in the midst of modern dwellings in this part of the city. It may not be the same old grand house of the old, but here’s hoping that this house would help make people appreciate better the heritage of the old.
Acknowledgements as well to DMCI, Casa Real Facebook page, and the Manila Bulletin