Friday, April 18, 2014

Old Manila Elegance that is Legarda Mansion

I’ve always been fascinated with old casas, museos, antiques and paintings so I’m quite thrilled that a guided tour of the Legarda Mansion is in the offing as part of our dining experience at La Cocina de Tita Moning (see related post).

Located at San Rafael Street in San Miguel District, where the alta sociedad of the Old Manila reside, the house was built in 1937 by Dr. Alejandro and Doña Ramona Legarda.

First off, is the foyer where my amigas and I saw an original Oscar Zalameda painting. Our guide said that it may be worth a million pesos now.

From the receiving area, I can admire the escalera and the araña. (I’m crazy about stairs and chandeliers!)

On one of the walls hung the Legardas and the Hernandezes family name history.

Towards the hallway are some antique cooking gadgets such as bread toaster and waffle maker (so it seems that waffles are already popular during those days).

There is also a souvenir shop where we can buy La Cocina’s signature goodies such as queso de bola spread and bread pudding, among others.

Still on the ground floor, at the left side of the house, is the camera room. Dr. Legarda was a founding member of the Camera Club of the Philippines and in this room I found various camera and equipment he used.

Among the photos is a shot of Roxas Boulevard in the 1930s taken and developed by Don Alejandro himself.

Facing the camera room is Dr. Legarda’s clinica. It gave me the creeps because there was a real human skeleton dangling in there. Amazingly, the x-ray machine, doctor bags, and other medical instruments are still intact.

At the right side of the house just below the stairs is the biblioteca. I saw really old copies of some magazines, medical books and encylopedias.

The guide led us to the second floor of the house where the sala is located. Its attraction is the 1901 “La Inocencia” painting by National Artist Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo.

Also here is a painting by Juan Luna, wow!

The sala is spacious with two sets of sofa. There are a lot of paintings, family portraits and various antiques.

Near the sala is the radio room. Dr. Legarda is also fond of radios and his various radio equipment are well-kept. In this room also are more china, glass and silverware and family photographs.

There’s also a paper mache collection done by Doña Ramona herself. 

Adjacent to the radio room is the cuarto de vestir where their daughters’ ballet dresses and shoes are kept. I find the vintage perfume collection tasteful and the vintage mirrors and accessories really ‘girly’.

And finally the comedor! I noticed a gong and the guide told us that Don Alejandro used this to call his children for almuerzo or cena.

The guide pointed at the collection of Meissen plates displayed on the walls, each one hand-painted and lined with gold. She told us that there are no two plates in the entire set with exactly the same design.

The tour of the Legarda ancestral house gave me a glimpse of what was life like during the late 19th century. Even for just awhile, I experienced the old world charm of an era almost forgotten.

(Note: To be able to explore the Legarda Mansion, place a dining reservation at La Cocina de Tita Moning)

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