City of Manila

Kasa Boix: Restoration in Progress

Throughout the more than 4-year history of the Urban Roamer, we have been all to familiar with the sad fate that befell much of the city’s heritage due to rapid and unchecked urbanization in recent years. For us who have come to appreciate the ciyt’s glorious past, it is heartbreaking to learn much of this heritage have either disappeared or in danger of being lost forever; unfortunately it is a trend that will most likely continue as long as there are people who are unaware or do not care about the importance of these heritage structures.

Fortunately, there are still bright spots to this gloomy situation, like the story the Urban Roamer is proud to feature today: the Kasa Boix in Quiapo, Manila.

The history of Kasa Boix can be traced back as far as 1895, when a plan was submitted by a certain Marciano Teotico to the government to construct a grand house along what is then known as Barbosa Street (now known as A. Bautista St.) in Quiapo. Over the years, ownership of the house passed hands from the Teoticos to the Crespos, the Boix family (where its name came from) before it was acquired by the Jesuits who currently own the property.

Apart from being (possibly) a family residence, Kasa Boix also served as a boarding house for students studying in Manila. It’s been said that Manuel Quezon himself stayed at this house when he was a student.

Sadly, the house fell into disrepair and near decay over the years as those who managed to stay in parts of the old property made the most out of it. The Jesuits who bought it originally wanted to work on restoring the house to its former glory, but funds have been a problem in pursuing this goal.

It was the scene when a group of volunteers banded together to form the Kapitbahayan sa Kalye Bautista, (KKB, which does not mean here “kanya-kanyang bayad” or Dutch treat) a nonprofit organization dedicated in promoting heritage preservation and promotion along Bautista St. and environs, and Quiapo and Manila in general. Taking inspiration from the Bahay Nakpil-Bautista, a fine example of Quiapo’s preserved heritage, the organization set its sights on saving the house just next door: nome other than the Kasa Boix.

The group started work with clean-up activities, being joined by other volunteers sharing the same passion for heritage. After months of cleanup, they held a simple kickoff event of sorts called “Pasinaya sa Kasa Boix” last March 23. It was obe of those events that can be called “truly Filipino,” with performances and talks that stirred Filipino pride and love for Philippine heritage.

There’s still much work needed to be done and more help will be needed for sure. But what has been started by the Kapitbahayan sa Kalyr Bautista is such an important step in bringing back to life a hiuse as storied as Kasa Boix. I cannot commend enough the efforts of the KKB in spearheading such a noble endeavor and I wish them success.

At the same time, I hope this effort will snowball into more similar efforts in other communities in becoming more proactive in preserving the heritage they have left not just for the present generation but for the ones that will follow.

My deep thanks to the group Kapitbahayan sa Kalye Bautista.

Check the slideshow below for more photos of the Kasa Boix and the Pasinaya sa Kasa Boix event:

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© The Urban Roamer


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