Fabulous Philippines > Cebu City > Casa Gorordo

Casa Gorordo
(Casa Gorordo Museum)
Cebu City

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Built in the 1860s, the Casa Gorordo is a beautiful two-storey Spanish colonial house. it was one of just four that have survived in Cebu to this day (much of the past having been turned into ruins by the battles of the Second World War).

Casa Gorodo, Cebu City

The Casa Gorordo was built in Cebu's Parian locality which in the late 19th century was home to the wealthy of the city.

The fine design and materials of the Casa Gorordo show us the elegant lifestyle lived by the Spanish aristocracy and rich Filipinos during the nineteenth century.

Once the residence of Juan Bautista Gorordo, the first Filipino Bishop of Cebu, and owned by the wealthy Gorordo family for several generations, the house is now fully restored and furnished in the style of the period, it is now open to the public as a museum.


On the ground floor is a collection of paintings by Cebuano artists and students of fine arts.

On the upper floor is a chapel, a dining room, an office, a master bedroom, a sala (living room), and a library. In the library there is also a collection of photographs of Cebu during the American era and a collection of historical works from the 18th century and some old copies of Jose Rizal's novels (including Noli Me Tangere and El Filbusterismo).

Artefacts and memorabilia on view in the first floor rooms include European and American furniture (such as a German piano, a porcelain Austrian dinner set and American linen), liturgical items (including Catholic icons from Spain and from Mexico), and clothing.

A balcony (topped with a trellis) runs along the whole length of the house on the first floor level, giving shade and fresh air. Beside the house a talisay tree spreads its branches to provide further welcome shade.

For those interested in mixtures of colonial and indigenous building materials and techniques, the Case Gorordo is also fascinating. The lower walls are built using coral (sourced locally in Mactan) that is held together with tree sap. The upper floor is built using are using narra (Philippine hardwood) held together not with nails but with pegs.

Further History of the House and its District

Like Manila's Parian district, the Parian district of Cebu was a Chinatown in the 16th century. over the years many of Cebu's merchants, landholders and professionals settled there.

When in the 19th century, the Spanish government permitted the Philippines to trade with other parts of the world in addition to Spain and the Spanish empire, Cebu's merchants prospered and it was in this era that the house was built by Alejandro Reynes y Rosales.

In 1863, that Juan Isidro de Gorordo, a Spanish merchant, purchased this house and the Gorordo family lived there for a number of generations. These included Juan Bautista Gorordo, the first Filipino Bishop of Cebu (1910-31).

In 1980 the house was purchased from the Gorordo family by the Ramon Abolitz Foundation and, after conducting extensive research into the house's history and architecture, restored it to its original splendor.

It was then opened as a public museum and in 1991 declared National Historic Landmark.

Further Reading

Casa Rorordo: Urban Residence in a Philippine Province by Resil Mojares (Cebu, Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, 1983)

Publisher's blurb:
"Study of urban development in Cebu from colonial period (in particular, evolution of the Parian district) from Chinese trading ghetto in 16th cent. to reise of 19th century aristocratic residential quarters of merchants, professionals and landowners, and into the 20th cent. A sociohistorical reconstruction of the home of Bishop Juan Gorordo and the urban surroundings of Cebu; also meant as a guide to Casa Gorordo (now a public museum) as well as intro to cultural life of a Philippine city."

146pp. Includes notes, interviews, index, two fold-out maps, many black-and-white photographs, drawings, architectural renderings, and eight color reproductions of postcards depicting old buildings from the colonial period.

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Author: David Paul Wagner
(David Paul Wagner on Google+)

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