Daku Balay or the Don Generoso mansion on Burgos street in Bacolod City, Philippines is a very special and remarkable house. Got a couple of minutes to spare? Read on!
In the past, Bacolod City used to export our sugar to the rest of the world which made the landowners of Bacolod insanely rich. These landowners built mansions and introduced Bacolod to architecture from all over the world.
The Villanueva ancestral house or “Daku Balay” is one of the mansions on Burgos Street. It’s hard to believe it but in the past Burgos street was known to be the “street of millionaires” due to the numerous mansions and grand houses that dot the street.
The Villanueva house was built in the “art-deco” style dating from the 1920’s and was the biggest and most modern and beautiful house in Bacolod city during the late 1930’s. This beautiful house survived World War II, being occupied by the Japanese and is in remarkably good condition. It has been converted into several offices but the beautiful design and whimsical art still remains.
If you’re wondering why Daku Balay looks so rounded and looks just like a ship, it’s because this particular architect style is called “Streamline Moderne”
Streamline Moderne is an international style of Art Deco architecture and design that emerged in the 1930s. It was inspired by aerodynamic design. Streamline architecture emphasized curving forms, long horizontal lines, and sometimes nautical elements.
In France, it was called the Style paquebot, or “Ocean liner style”, and was influenced by the design of the luxury ocean liner SS Normandie, launched in 1932.-Wikipedia
The Art Deco style was born during the period of America’s Great Depression. It was also a period of great technological advancements where science and electricity became widespread. This art deco style is known for its curves and aerodynamics, giving the look a streamlined, aerodynamic appearance.
The Daku Balay house retains a lot of its antique furnishings and doors. They’re gorgeous! The wooden doors and many of the house’s furnishings were carved by artisans from Luzon who worked with Narra and other Philippine Hardwoods.
Even the doorknob on the door is in the classic art deco style. Simple, with long straight lines. Very classy and antique!
The interior of the house is similar in nature, looking very much like a ship! A prominent feature is the big porthole in the middle of the ceiling that provides ventilation and light to the lower floors.
It is so much fun to see something like this! It’s very distinctive and this feature gives the Daku Balay house a very playful and nautical atmosphere.
Take a look at the roof and the floor of the pictures above. That’s not paint. That vivid design is actually because Daku Balay is inlaid with solid STONE and marble that Don Generoso had custom made from artisan stonecutters in Romblon. It looks a lot like paint but when you get up close, you can see that it is patterned stone and marble!
Daku Balay also had the first elevator in Bacolod city! It is sadly non operable but you can still see the original switches and buttons used to operate it!
The elevator was imported all the way from the United States and installed in Daku Balay. It was very popular during parties as most of the guests who lived in Bacolod had never been in an elevator before. We can imagine the past women of society giggling like school girls as they took their first elevator ride!
The grand staircase is one of the fantastic features of Daku Balay. Shaped like a spiral sea shell and inlaid with the finest Marble, the staircase is one of the highlights of the house!
The crowning Jewel of Daku Balay is the gorgeous Billiard room on the top floor. Now an office, this was were the male guests of Don Generoso would retire to play Billiards, smoke cigars and Relax.
Don Genoroso paid special attention to the family rooms and the billiard room which is the most beautiful room in the entire house. He loved animals and the billiard room has especially a lot of whimsical art figures and scenes from Aesop’s Fables!
All around the floor of Daku Balay’s Billard Room are inlaid marble depictions of animals. These are fantastic and still look great to this day.
There are lots of Reliefs in Daku Balay. Some of them can be found as decorative pieces above the different rooms.
One of the highlights in the Billard room of Daku balay is the ceiling with a stylized spider and her cobweb. Trapped within is a fly.
This relief in Daku Balay may be inspired by the classic poem “The spider and the fly” by Mary Howitt.
The Spider and the Fly is a poem by Mary Howitt (1799–1888), published in 1829. The first line of the poem is “‘Will you walk into my parlour?’ said the Spider to the Fly.” The story tells of a cunning spider who entraps a fly into its web through the use of seduction and manipulation. The poem is a cautionary tale against those who use flattery and charm to disguise their true intentions.Wikipedia
When the house was occupied by the Japanese during the World War II, Some Japanese would use the spider and the fly as target practice. Fortunately for us, the damage was soon repaired and the house spared from further destruction.
Daku Balay also has the most elaborate bathtub and bathroom in Bacolod City. It is made of solid carved marble and is extremely pretty.
Even the Bathroom has a relief of a crane and a Frog from Aesop’s Fables.
The story concerns a group of frogs who called on the great god Zeus to send them a king. He threw down a log, which fell in their pond with a loud splash and terrified them. Eventually one of the frogs peeped above the water and, seeing that it was no longer moving, soon all hopped upon it and made fun of their king.Aesop’s Fables: The Frogs who desired a King – Wikipedia
Then the frogs made a second request for a real king and were sent a water snake that started eating them. Once more the frogs appealed to Zeus, but this time he replied that they must face the consequences of their request.
There are gorgeous stained glass windows all around the bathroom and around the house too.
If you’re passing by the house on Generoso Villanueva street on your way to Galo street, take a good look at the grills on top of the wall. They’re in the form of a stylized radio wave or electricity. It always makes us smile!
Behind Daku Balay is the newly built Belle Arte Residential condominiums also built in the same art deco style as the house.
The Belle Arte residences is worth checking out as it is a conveniently located condominium near malls, hospitals and markets . It’s also done up in that gorgeous art deco style. Check out Belle Arte at Galo Street for more details
Did you know, Don Genoroso also made the Sta. Fe park in Bacolod. Yes THE Santa Fe where generations of kids learned to swim and had fun gawking at the monkeys and the crocodile. It’s an iconic location which is sadly now closed. You weren’t a Bacolod 80’s or 90’s kid if you haven’t gone to the Santa Fe resort.
Sadly, Daku Balay remains closed to tourists due to the Covid Pandemic but stay tuned for when they will begin accepting tours and visitors once again.
This Article has been updated from the original for 2021.
The Bacolod Food Hunters did not accept any freebies, incentives or money for this article. We practice ethical blogging.
The whole house is a boutique of solid craftsmanship made by the Filipinos. Even the materials were all from the Philippines. Except for the elevator.
Don Generoso Villanueva was a good hearted person. He motivated the young generation to play musical instruments. As we can see in one of the relief on the wall. He was also a person, who is proud to be a Filipino. As we can see in many beautiful reliefs inside the “Daku Balay”. Most of all, he is an animal lover.
A salute to you Ma’am Lilia for the very interesting tour around your ancestral home. I am very impressed!! I am a Bacoleña!! How I wish to buy a copy of the book of “Daku Balay”.
With warm regards, Jovy Petero Hottinger