I am always fascinated with old things, old houses, and historical places. For me, they are repository of memories—bitter and sweet.
Memories are what we made of. In fact, according to a science article, memories can be passed on for 14 generations through our DNA. And in the Municipality of Rodriguez (formerly Montalban) in the Province of Rizal, there was a beautiful, old mansion that houses the memories of a family—the Liamzons.
A beautiful muse at the foothills of the Sierra Madre
Built at the foothills of the Sierra Madre, the longest mountain range in the Philippines, Villa Milagros stands tall, like a beautiful muse, among the houses and other establishments along the street named after the national hero of the Philippines, the polymath Dr. José P. Rizal, in Barangay Manggahan in said town that 369,222 people call their “home.”
I have visited Villa Milagros last July 21 because of the invitation of Andrea, a dear friend and one of the granddaughters of the Liamzons. Architecturally, Villa Milagros is an Antillean house (a type of architecture introduced by the Spaniards), but fused with stick style architecture, introduced by the American colonizers to the Philippines.
Andrea said the old mansion was a gift by her lolo, Isidoro B. Liamzon to her lola, Ma. Milagros M. Liamzon on their 35th wedding anniversary. The mansion was built between 1965 and 1969.
A home for bunches and bunches of beautiful memories
The Villa is back to its glory, while maintaining its roots deeply connected to its past—that the mansion is not only a beautiful villa, but it was a home for the Liamzon clan’s sweet and unforgettable memories.
The villa’s iron gates and the thick walls covered with thick foliage cannot hide the beauty of this old mansion, now refurbished to become an events place where beautiful weddings, prenuptial shoots, and other functions are being held—all adds up to the beautiful memories of the villa where the family of Isidoro and Milagros will go, when the summer heat in Manila is unbearable.
The villa’s mirador was her crown, and the beautifully landscaped gardens have become part of her garb.
A writer with vivid imagination I am, I have imagined the Liamzon siblings and the Isidoro and Milagros are doing something fun in the gardens: the younger children are playing while the older ones were sharing stories, while their parents have moments of their own.
The old pool is no longer there, but standing there is a beautiful hall where you can party or celebrate anything beautiful—the exchange of wedding vows or a glamorous debut perhaps. Indeed, it was an events place where you can create sweet and happy memories with your loved ones.
When Villa Milagros was restored two years ago, the purpose is not only to change it back to its beautiful form but also to preserve the sweet and beautiful and awesome memories that the villa have had for the past four decades. But the old mansion is not “selfish.” It seems it wanted to share herself to others who keep and cherish beautiful memories. This is the very reason why, it was repurposed to become an events venue, so that people can also have that share of the old mansion’s beauty.
Trinkets of memories
The old chandeliers are still hanging on the ceiling and the old electric lamps attached to its walls.
What is more interesting about Villa Milagros is that it has some hardwood accents attached to its walls, giving a softer look in the mansion’s interiors.
Some old furniture was still there, including two sets of vintage phones though these remain broken.
Those phones made me wonder of what conversations that must have taken place using those old, broken phones. What kind of business deals have been closed using those phones? My wild imagination is on again, and I have the itch, that time, to pickup the receiver and dial the phone as if it was the ‘70s.
The second floor was the home for a Steinway piano which was a gift to the eighth child of Isidoro and Milagros, Julie.
Unfortunately, the piano still wasn’t retuned, hence it cannot be played. But Andrea said that they will have it tuned in the near future so that whenever there will be weddings or shoots or debuts, live music can be played from that Steinway piano.
The stairway to enchantment
Meanwhile, the spiral stairway going to the mirador seems to lead you to somewhere else—somewhere enchanting and beautiful. Actually, the spiral stairway is a favorite spot for prenuptial shoots, aside from the verandas and the main entrance of the grand villa.
When you’re up in the mirador, you will have a great view of the areas surrounding the villa.
This is actually my most favorite spot in Andrea’s place—the mirador.
My dream of having a villa
Because of Villa Milagros, my heart now desires to have an old villa, and have it restored but not for public consumption. Though I want to open it to people just to appreciate the beauty of it, and let them know the history behind my future old house.
Of course, that is still a dream. But I know that dream is realizable. And I will make it a reality. Just like what the late Tatay Isidoro did for his beloved Ma. Milagros and for his children.
Until that dream becomes a reality, I will just appreciate the gem at the foothills of Sierra Madre called Villa Milagros.