Every year, thousands of visitors head to the Syquia Mansion Museum in Quirino Boulevard in Vigan - and for good reason. Among the most renowned attractions in the city, the nearly 200-year old mansion served as the home of President Elpidio Quirino and his family. The house served as a dowry from Quirino's wife's family, the Syquias.
Like many of the historical structures in Vigan, it’s also one of the best examples of mestiza architecture, a prominent period style that merges Filipino and Spanish architecture. It is also the biggest and oldest bahay na bato, having been built in 1830. Apart from serving as a home, the mansion was also the seat of many government functions.
Today, it has been converted into the museum that showcases precious furniture, and family portraits by national artist Fernando Amorsolo. Also among the highlights of a visit is a replica of Juan Luna's Spoliarium, created by his own student.
But now visitors have more to look forward to when they visit.
Last February 27, the Quirino family relaunched the book “Love Letters”, a collection of over 30 snail mail correspondences between the former Philippine president and his wife, Alicia Syquia.
Love Letters contains over 30 snail mail correspondences between Alicia and Quirino, which are now on display inside the mansion. The letters are replicated exactly according to the original ones, with Alicia and Elpidio's handwriting. Compiled by Rene Guatlo, the book offers readers a closer look at the personal life of wife and husband Alicia and Elpidio, who “we know to be a politician, but we know very little about his personal side. The book also shows how Alicia supported his husband's political career,” Guatlo comments.
Set in the 1800s, the letters provide a glimpse of the challenges and joys of raising a family in a crucial transition period in Philippine history. The book also shows the relationship between businesswoman Alicia and young and ambitious lawyer Elpidio, who Guatlo says, is always too concerned about his wife spoiling the children too much and how to raise them modestly, “because a politician must live a modest life.”
The hardbound book is designed with colored pages filled with old photos of Vigan and family portraits alongside the letters in calligraphy. “Now we only write when we write on wedding invitations. This (book) is more personal because when you open it, you see the thoughts in paper, inside an envelope. It's like opening their own letters...You'll read Alicia saying, “Buy queso de bola, toys. Bring my satin shoes,” he added.
The book can be purchased for P750 per copy.
Syquia Mansion MuseumQuirino Boulevard, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur
+63 77 674 1643 (Vigan)
+632 463 5572 (Manila)
Open Monday and Wednesday to Sundays (except Tuesdays), from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
This article was written by Gretchen Filart Dublin of www.filipinaexplorer.com - Pinoy Adventurista's representative to the “Love Letters” book launch held last February 27, 2017 in Vigan, Ilocos Sur.
ALSO READ: A Local's Travel Guide to Vigan, Ilocos Sur
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