“Where the past is always present. A leading platform of Western Visayas heritage experiences and products,” is a statement found on the Camiña Balay na Bato social media page. It is a “showcase of Ilonggo culture, heritage, and gastronomy” and guests can “experience how the prominent Ilonggo’s live more than 100 years ago in a modern setting as the 6th generation still calls this house their home.” Photo From: Iloilo today Formerly known as the Avanceña house, Camiña Balay na Bato is a century old heritage house nestled in Arevalo, a district in Iloilo City. It was built in 1865 and design by Fr. Anselmo Avanceña, first parish priest of Molo, for couple Don Fernando Avanceña and his wife, Eulalia Abaja. The structure was passed on from one family to another until it came under the stewardship of the Camiñas family. To date, it is now owned by fourth generation Camiñas, Gerard Camiña, former Director of the Land Transportation Office in Western Visayas. He looks after the ancestral home with his wife, Luth Camiña. The overall structure was patterned after the ‘Bahay kubo’, a traditional Filipino house. The roof was made of bamboo and nipa, and floors made of narra and ivory. Moreover, the foundation was supported by 24 tree trunks. The family thrives with its hablon weaving business and is also passed from generation to generation. Hablon is a hand-woven fabric made of different materials (cotton, jusi or banana fiber, and piña or pineapple fiber, rayon thread). It is a growing industry and Miag-ao is one of the towns in the province that capitalizes on hablon. The Camiña Balay na Bato was declared an ‘important cultural property’ by virtue of Resolution No. 23-2015 and Republic Act 10066 (National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009), issued December 2015 for its ‘exceptional cultural, artistic, and historical significance’ to the country. “The house is a visual delight for those who like anything vintage. There’s antique furniture, relics, altars, pottery, and old photographs. The ground floor has looms where weavers work on textiles for sale at the house. You can also buy handicrafts, including shawls, patadyongs, and slippers,” excerpts from an article published on Guide to the Philippines. “The second floor of Camiña Balay Na Bato serves as the dining area where you can feast on local delicacies, such as the Pancit Molo (a soup dish with clear broth and dumplings) and hot chocolate. The hot chocolate is made of cacao beans from the family’s farm. The drink is served the old-fashioned way, hot, thick, and incredibly rich. This is best paired with Biscocho or local biscuits,” another excerpt from the same website. To date, the house highlights a combination of Japanese craftmanship, and Victorian era architecture expressly manifested in its hardwood doors. It also has the typical features of old Filipino homes in the 19th century with its Capiz shell windowpanes, use of wood, house patterns, and use of textile. Apart from architecture and aesthetics, Camiña Balay na Bato is also home to excellent gastronomy. Home of the famous Chocolate Tablea, referred by the establishment as its Hot Chocolate Tablea Espeso, the drink is made the traditional Filipino way. Cacao is grown on the owners’ family farm, made into tablea, and heated in special iron jugs over a single flame. As it boils, it is beaten with a ‘batidor’, a special whisk made from guava tree wood. It is often paired with biscocho, which is also available at the Camiña Balay na Bato establishment. Other delicacies available at the Camiña Balay na Bato includes the following: Pancit Molo, Fresh Spring Roll Lumpia, Papaya Pickles (Atsara), Malabar Nightshade, Ratotoy, Saute Bitter Gourd, Pork Binuog, Grilled Bangus or Fried Garlic Bangus, Embotido de Arevalo, Adobo Rice, Pancit Miki Bisaya, Garlic Shrimp, and Calamansi Juice. The establishment also provides heritage buffets, heritage tours, among others.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, through the