Casa Manila Museum offers a great insight into how Manila’s wealthy colonialists used to live. Inside this reproduction of a classic mansion, you will find furnishings, artwork and original items from the mid-19th century, set up to show exactly what life was like for the rich in Manila when the Spanish occupied the city.
You can take a guided tour of the Casa Manila Museum, or simply explore on your own through the huge rooms set out over three floors. The top floor depicts the family’s private rooms, complete with ornate marble-topped tables and antique wooden furniture, such as a grandfather clock. All the furniture in the Casa was either constructed locally or is Chinese or European in origin, beautifully handcrafted and finely made.
The living quarters are located up the grand staircase, which gives a great sense of the splendour of the lives of those who may have lived here. There is also an accurately reproduced kitchen, complete with historic utensils, such as a charcoal oven and 18th-century cooking moulds. Visitors can learn about the ingenious systems that were in place, including the cistern that was designed to collect rainwater for washing, cooking and drinking. This floor also houses the dining room, complete with a table for 18 and a manually operated ceiling fan called a punkah, which was designed to keep the flies from the diners’ food.
The bedrooms are located on the next floor down, as well as the latrine, uniquely designed for two people to use at the same time, so important conversations would not be interrupted. On this floor you’ll also find the library, as well as the house safe and a money chest used to store precious coins. On your way out to see the fountain in the courtyard, take a look at the hingeless doors – a common feature at the time.
You can reach the Casa Manila Museum by taking a jeepney or taxi to Intramuros. Alternatively take a train to Central Terminal Station and then hop in a jeepney. There is a small charge to access the Casa, which is closed on Mondays.