If I can describe the Legarda House, I’d say its homey. It feels like being home in a rural setting despite the fact that it is in the heart of Manila, and just one corner away from the Malacanang Palace, the official residence of the Philippine president.
Built in 1937, the Legarda house in Manila exudes the feeling of the old times. It’s actually like turning back the pages of history. As I have said in my previous blog, is a perfect setting for having the 19th century setting for fine dining and some history.
The three-story house owned by Dr. Alejandro Roces Legarda and his wife, Ramona, had many rooms, including a library and a clinic where the ancestral owner would check up his patients. The library contained most medical books and medical references.
During his free time, Dr. Roces busied himself with his love for photography and radio.
In fact, a black and white photo of his three children eating ice cream was reproduced as a post card. Dr. Roces even had his own dark room at the library where he used to develop his photographs.
Also found on the left side upon entry at the house is the doctor’s clinic, which showcased now antique medical equipment as well as a life-sized skeleton. There were also glass slides kept in some small boxes as well as bottles labeled as “featuses”, apparently unborn babies that were part of a small collection.
An OB-Gyne by profession, Dr. Legarda’s son, Alejandro Jr, was born in this clinic.
The clinic also boasts of a unique and antique x-ray machine and the skeleton used by the doctor in medical school.
The living room is found at the second level of the house, on your left side upon reaching the foot of the wooden stairways.
The center piece of the room is the large painting titled “La Inocencia” , painted by Felix Ressureccion Hidalgo in Paris in 1901. This is hanging on the wall across the window.
One can also find interesting at another painting of a woman in black dress which an original work of National Artist Juan Luna. The tour guides there expresses the belief that the woman in the painting might had been Juan Luna’s wife whom he said to have murdered along with his mother-in-law during their stay in Paris. But she was recently been identified as one of the models of Juan Luna.
There is another painting found the ground floor, which is the Zalameda. A blue painting on the wall by Filipino artist Oscar Zalameda and is entitled “Sailboats”. It was said to be purchased by Ramon H. Legarda in the 1970s for P 3,000 and now the painting is valued 300 times over the purchase price.
At the turn of the last century, the house had some renovations where the family decided to restore rooms, cabinets and displayed old clothes, furniture and even keep in display various photographs of the ancestral family.
One can see the various family photographs which may have covered three generations of the Alejandro Legarda clan, which had since intertwined with the Valdez-Tuason-Prieto families.
To accommodate more guests especially during wedding banquets today, the family decided to convert this room to a dining area. This used to be a dresser and it housed the clothes and other things of Dr. Roces and wife Ramona.
This is the dining area where La Cocina de Tita Moning entertains its VIP guests. Did I say homey? Yes, and a bit eerie too!