The Clarin Ancestral House of Bohol


The CLARIN HOUSE, in the “downtown” below the church, is one of the oldest structures in Bohol and the only ancestral home on the island declared as a National Heritage House by the National Historical Institute in 1998. It was the home of Don Aniceto Clarin, the first civil governor of Bohol (appointed 1901) and his wife Margarita Butalid. Hoping to win over the prominent and respected Don Aniceto to their cause, it was the only house spared by the American troops when they burned down Loay during the Filipino-American War in 1901. However, the house traces its history long before its most famous occupant lived there.


The prominent Clarin family took up residence in town after its patriarch married the daughter of a landed Loay family (Luspo 2006), and the house itself was probably built as far back as 1841. With wooden walls and floors, and a mighty thatch roof supported by hardwood trunks, the house has largely retained its mid—nineteenth-century appearance and historic furniture. Thanks to a committed private initiative the house, in 2006, was carefully brought back to its original state by restoration architect German Torrero.


Its upper floor now houses an impressive museum with period furniture and memorabilia belonging to Don Aniceto and two of his descendants, Senators Jose A. Clarin and Olegario Clarin, who rose to national fame during the Commonwealth and postwar eras. The ceiling of the main staircase has a painting of the Statue of Liberty, and the main entrance door retains its ingenious closing mechanism. Meanwhile, the ground floor bodega has been converted into a very scenic cafe with a lush garden. Carved round window openings in the wooden wallboards admit light into the interior with a forest of thick hardwood trunks. Painted in a color scheme typical of the mid—nineteenth century and with a picturesque little courtyard in the center of the U-shaped floor plan, the Clarin House is undoubtedly one of the most important cultural heritage sites of Bohol. Thus, it is frequently visited by local and international tourists.


A younger “cousin” to the nearby Clarin House, the FERNANDEZ HOUSE occupies a prominent position in town. Facing the plaza, it reflects the high social rank of its builders in prewar Loay society, municipal Judge Jose Fernandez and his wife Eustacia Clarin. Built around 1920, the T-shaped structure with its four bays is an impressive sight in the town center. It is surrounded by a well-maintained, fenced, and landscaped garden. Despite its immense size, the house is rather simple in layout and design, its only decorative components being plain X-shaped calados above the unusual swing-out glass windows. It is unclear whether these windows are the original ones; as windows of prewar houses almost always consisted of sliding panels, they may be the result of a later alteration. The ground floor, once an open space, has been rebuilt in concrete when it was converted to residential use.


It does, however, harmonize well with the wooden upper floor, as it follows the latter’s layout with four bays separated by protruding concrete columns. Also, the new ground floor is kept plain and simple, and even recessed, thus creating a volada so typical of Filipino vintage houses, though uncommon in Bohol. The current metal roof is new; the original roof may have been a thatch roof, or a steeper one of galvanized iron sheets before it was changed in the late 1960s (Luspo 2006). With its immense collection of memorabilia of the late Senator Clarin, the Fernandez House is lovingly maintained as the family’s ancestral home, and its antique ambience carefully preserved.”

Text from the book Casa Boholana: Vintage Houses of Bohol, by Erik Akpedonu and Czarina Saloma, 2011