2016 World Monuments Watch
The Boix House sits in the busy Quiapo district of Manila, a reminder of the genteel past of this thriving market area as Manila’s “Millionaire’s Row.” Dating from the late nineteenth century, the two-story house has an illustrious and varied history. Its first owner was the family of Jose R. Teotico, a renowned poet, translator, and academician, who received the Premio Zobel, a prize given by the oldest literary award-giving body in the world. At the turn of the twentieth century, Manuel L. Quezon, the first President of the Philippine Commonwealth, lived in the house while attending law school. After a turn as a dormitory, a business office for the Star Reporter, and the home of a printing company, the house has most recently become a dwelling for multiple tenants, many of whom live illegally on the ground floor.
The house was designed in the Bulaklak sa Trellis, or “flowers in trellis” style, which was popular during the Spanish colonial period but survives in only few examples. The upper story is richly decorated with pilasters, arches, corbels of carved fruit, and cutwork and tracery in floral patterns. Original details including the main staircase, grillwork, and balustrades also survive. But in recent years the house has fallen into disrepair and is in dire need of a conservation plan and a concerted effort for its revitalization.
The Boix House is emblematic of many of the challenges facing vernacular architecture across Southeast Asia. In the face of rapid and often unplanned development, heritage is often neglected, until it is too late. Thanks to its location in central Manila and close proximity to a number of national landmarks, including the San Sebastián Basilica, a past World Monuments Watch site and the site of ongoing conservation efforts, the Boix House is ideally located to take advantage of the opportunities offered by tourism growth. Inclusion on the 2016 World Monuments Watch will galvanize local stakeholders who are actively working to create public programming using Boix House as the primary catalyst to enrich the entire surrounding neighborhood.
For one day in April 2017, the Boix House served as the point of convergence for encounters between past and present, between people of different faiths (predominantly Christian and Muslims), and between residents and visitors to the area. Watch Day served as an occasion to celebrate, and call public attention to the significance and current condition of the Boix House, along with the historic character of the surrounding neighborhood. The Watch Day activities included exhibitions, an art installation, street fair, performances, and interviews, encouraged a dialogue between the residents, visitors, and preservationists about their experiences engaging with this historic area of Manila.
Since the Watch
In early 2016 the floor supporting the kitchen of the house split in two, leaving half of it suspended a foot lower than the rest.