Manuel L. Quezon (MLQ) is a figure known by many honors and accolades. For this entry on this month known as Quezon month, we will deal with one such distinction as the “Father of Quezon City,” a city he originally conceived as the capital city of the Philippines before things got screwy and leaving those dreams unfulfilled. (the full story could be found in a previous piece here)
That being said, questions have lingered in the minds of some people over the years as to whether Quezon made residence in the vicinity of the current city named after him. It has been known that the Quezons used to live somewhere in Pasay (back in those pre-reclamation and pre-urban congested days when it was a scenic neighborhood that enjoyed the Manila Bay) as where other prominent families resided as well. Thus it was a pleasant surprise to learn that Quezon and his family did live in what is now Quezon City, in particular in the emerging neighborhood of New Manila.
That particular Quezon house was originally built in the 1920s, along Gilmore Avenue, built originally in the neoclassical style. The house was eventually offered to the Quezons and by 1927, the property became the family’s weekend home, a refuge not only from the grueling activities the family was doing on weekdays, but also a place where MLQ could recuperate somehow from the tuberculosis that was beginning to affect his health that year. This is evident in the house’s provisions that it had separate quarters for MLQ and his wife Aurora, as well as a nurse’s quarter as well.
The Quezons would leave the house at the outbreak of World War II in the country in 1941 and would return only after war. MLQ would no longer be able to see the house again, having died in New York in 1944. Nevertheless, the family decided to buy the property outright and had it expanded as well in the process. The house would also serve from time to time as the office of MLQ’s widow Aurora, who became the President of the Philippine Red Cross at the time. Upon the tragic death of Aurora and daughter Maria Aurora in 1949, the house was eventually passed on to another daughter Zenaida (who eventually Mrs. Avanceña) and her family until they recently decided to let go of the property.
While the land was sold to a developer, the Quezon City Government acted on having the house saved. Like in the case of the Santos-Andres house, the Quezon house was eventually relocated piece by piece (at least the parts that could be saved, which was 60%) to its new location in 2013, right inside the Quezon Memorial Circle.
Now known as the Quezon Heritage House, the house serves to complement the Quezon Memorial Shrine in the sense that both show the different facets on the life of MLQ: the shrine showcasing his political life and the heritage house showing his family life. In addition, it holds the distinction of being only surviving house associated with Quezon and his family.
Apart from the house, the property also features a recreation of the social hall which, in the old property, served as a venue where the Quezons hold intimate gatherings and events from time to time. There was also a pool in the old property, which was recreated and re-purposed as a fountain.
As is the case of a number of relocated heritage structures, there is no denying the fact that part of its heritage as a remnant of what New Manila was before has been lost in the process. Be that as it may, the Urban Roamer is still glad the Quezon City Government has managed to save this house so it can serve as a lasting reminder of Manuel Quezon and his link to the city he helped create, as well as a better picture of the man beyond his image as a statesman, president, and the honorifics he has been given.
Acknowledgements as well to the Philippine Star.
More photos of the Quezon Heritage House can be found at the Urban Roamer’s Flickr album.
The location of the Quezon Heritage House can be viewed on the Database.