Well-recognized Casa Gorordo Museum, a National Historical Landmark and a favorite stop in Cebu’s cultural circuit, puts on a “new, yet more historically faithful look” when it re-opens to visitors in October 2022.
The beloved house-museum, closed due to pandemic restrictions since 2020, takes on what might look to casual observers as new colors, but which actually reflect the aesthetic of houses during its time.
“This will seem new to us who have known Casa Gorordo for its dark brown exterior, and interior, too, but this will actually bring us back to the days when there were people actually living here,” says Florencio Moreño II, Officer-in-Charge of the Culture and Heritage Unit of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. (RAFI).
Casa Gorordo is a two-storey “balay nga tisa” on E. Aboitiz Street, in the old Parian district. Constructed in the 1850’s, it encapsulates the lifestyle of the Parianon families and Cebuanos in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It is also known as the former residence of Juan Gorordo, the first Filipino bishop of Cebu.
Alejandro Reynes y Rosales was the original owner of the property, who later sold it to Spanish merchant Isidro Gorordo. Four generations of Gorordos lived in the house. It was acquired by the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. (RAFI) from the family in the late 1970’s, delicately restored, and opened to the public as a museum in 1983 to promote enjoyment and awareness of Cebuano culture.
Former inhabitants of the stone- and- wood building remember it encased in a light, subdued color which remained unchanged throughout the duration of the family’s stay there. As wood preservatives and brown paint were layered over the years, the house has been characterized by its modest dark brown color. It was de rigeur for homes to be painted during the late 19th into the 20th century. Social standards, public health conditions and the necessity of preserving the structure dictated so much.
A painted house established the family’s social status; one was considered to be of means to be able to paint his home. It also helped to keep the house neat, particularly to avoid cholera, a chronic epidemic in the late 1800’s and in the early decades of the 1900’s.
With black and white photos hinting at the house’s color during its pre-museum phase, the museum conducted research and consultations with experts to determine the tints that would most authentically depict the historical period, culture and society that Casa Gorordo represents.
Painting of the colonial era building reconnects to its roots, bringing it closer to its mission to be a “guide to the world that shaped Cebuano cultural identity.” It promises an enhanced, more meaningful visitor experience.