Camiña Balay nga Bato: “Where the past is always present. A leading platform of Western Visayas heritage experiences and products,” is a statement found on the Camiña Balay nga Bato social media page. It is a “showcase of Ilonggo culture, heritage, and gastronomy” and guests can “experience how the prominent Ilonggos live more than 100 years ago in a modern setting as the 6th generation still calls this house their home.”
Formerly known as the Avanceña house, Camiña Balay nga Bato is a century-old heritage house nestled in Arevalo, a district in Iloilo City. It was built in 1865 and designed by Fr. Anselmo Avanceña, the 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 the floors were 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 Miagao is one of the towns in the province that capitalizes on hablon.
The Camiña Balay nga 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 in 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 Nga 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 craftsmanship, 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 textiles.
Apart from architecture and aesthetics, Camiña Balay nga Bato is also home to excellent gastronomy. Home of the famous Chocolate Tablea, referred to 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 nga Bato establishment.
How to Cook Chocolate Tablea (Recipe by Camina Balay nga Bato)
- Boil 450 ml of water using your chocolatera
- Drop five (5) pcs of Camina tablea
- Set low fire and use your batidor
- Slow cook until it thickens
- Add one (1) small can of evaporated milk
Other delicacies available at the Camiña Balay nga Bato include 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, and heritage tours, among others.
- Heritage Tour with Chocolate Espeso and Biscuits at P180 per head.
- Heritage Tour with Pancit Molo, Chocolate Espeso, and Biscuits at P250 per head
- Maximum of five (5) pax by reservation
- Ilonggo Heritage Buffet Lunch at P685 per head
- Minimum of eighteen (18) pax by reservation
Article originally published on www.VisitIloiloCity.com