Cebu City

IN PHOTOS: The Yap-San Diego ancestral house, a Cebu City relic from the 1600s

Amanda T. Lago
IN PHOTOS: The Yap-San Diego ancestral house, a Cebu City relic from the 1600s

HERITAGE. The Yap-San Diego ancestral house is open to visitors.

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The house, built in 1675, has withstood centuries' worth of destructive forces

CEBU CITY, Philippines – In Cebu City’s old Parian district, there is a house that has managed to withstand centuries’ worth of destructive forces – wars, financial collapse, natural disasters, even the recent wrath of Typhoon Odette.

The Yap-San Diego ancestral house was built in 1675, according to tour guide Lloyd Galenzoga. It was owned by the family of a Chinese merchant, Don Juan Yap, whose daughter married the cabeza de barangay of the Parian, Don Mariano San Diego.

Like many old houses, it’s gone through several iterations over the centuries. In its early days, the lower level of the house was used for business, while the upper level was where the family lived. 

The San Diego family continues to care for the house today, and they opened it to the public in 2008. Now it operates as a museum and as a party and shoot venue. 

The dim first storey houses portraits of the family and all sorts of religious iconography. The second storey is a tableau of life in the Spanish colonial era. Lloyd said that members of the family still occasionally visit and sleep there, too.

The house is made of coral stone and several types of wood: kamagong, molave, and mahogany. There must be something about these materials because they’ve held up over the years. When Typhoon Odette hit in December 2021, only the decor of the house was ruined. The owners were able to open up the house to share water from its 14-foot deep well to those who needed it. 

Take a look inside one of Cebu’s oldest houses:

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The Yap-San Diego ancestral house is open daily, from 8 am to 7 pm. – Rappler.com

Amanda T. Lago

After avoiding long-term jobs in favor of travelling the world, Amanda finally learned to commit when she joined Rappler in July 2017. As a lifestyle and entertainment reporter, she writes about music, culture, and the occasional showbiz drama. She also hosts Rappler Live Jam, where she sometimes tries her best not to fan-girl on camera.