The Kapitan Moy: Marikina’s Roots in One Home

My wife and I have a soft spot for old houses, especially for the “Bahay na Bato”. The Bahay na Bato is an architectural type of building that was popular during the Spanish colonization of the Philippines. It is basically a house (bahay) with a stone (bato) brick base and wooden top. Such a design is indigenous to the Philippines, which perfectly adapted to the local climate and geology. The stone bricks keep the lower part very cool, and it is also very stable even during earthquakes. The upper story is ventilated with many windows, which are opened during hot days and closed during storms.

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The windows of the Kapitan Moy Residence, as seen from the plaza

In the city of Marikina is a great example of the Bahay na Bato, which is the Kapitan Moy Residence. The Kapitan Moy was named after Don Laureano Guevarra, the man who started the shoe industry of Marikina.

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At the plaza stands a 1957 statue of Don Laureano Guevarra, aka “Kapitan Moy”

Fondly called Kapitan Moy by the locals, Don Guevarra turned his home into the first shoe factory in 1887. Later it became a school, a military headquarters, and even a hospital.

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Displayed at the ground floor is a 1901 portrait of Filomena Guevarra, daughter of Kapitan Moy, by Jorge Pineda

Jorge Pineda (26 July 1879-12 Sept 1946) is a genre painter, who studied under Teodoro Buenaventura (1863- 1950), at the Escuela Superior de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado. Pineda won the awards at the Universal Exposition in St Louis, Missouri, USA: bronze for “Campesina” (Farm Girl), showing a solidly drawn head of a rural lass, and honorable mention for “Las Buyeras” (Women Preparing Betel Nut Chew) in 1904. He was also a noted cartoonist, whose works were featured in The Philippines’ Free Press.

Now it is the home of the Sentrong Pangkultura ng Marikina (Marikina Cultural Center), as well as having two restaurants that serve local fare.

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The top floor of the Kapitan Moy Residence is now used as a multi-purpose hall

I first came to the Kapitan Moy, when a friend of mine was calling on all Marikina based artists to exhibit there. Bayani Fernando had just become the mayor, and he tasked his elder sister, Ligaya Fernando-Amilbangsa, to develop the arts and culture programs for the city.

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The front entrance of the Kapitan Moy Residence faces the plaza with the Otto Shoes building being constructed in the background The photograph was used in Earthian Magazine (2001)

I would return to the Kapitan Moy for various projects, and even have a solo exhibition in 1999. But the next important event for me was our wedding reception, in 2002. On that day, Ligaya Amilbangsa came, not as Marikina’s cultural officer, but as our godmother.

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2002: At our wedding reception, standing at the plaza of the Kapitan Moy Residence, with the artist’s group “Ikalawang Palapag” and noted writer Juan Hidalgo Jr. Among the artists is a fellow Marikina artist, and noted sculptor Juan Sajid Imao, and his wife Cielo.

Our wedding reception was held at the top floor of the Kapitan Moy; which used to be the residential area of Don Guevarra, while the ground floor was his business area. Typically, the residential area of the Bahay na Bato would have sliding walls, where the owners can move these aside to make wider spaces for parties or close them to create more privacy.

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A view of the plaza from the upper floor

Now-a-days, the upper floor of the Kapitan Moy has been cleared completely to be rented our as a multi-function hall. The last event I attended at the Kapitan Moy was the book launching of Ligaya Amilbangsa’s “Ukkil”, in 2006.

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The front entrance and plaza of the Kapitan Moy Residence, with another ancestral house in the background, the 1920s Dela Paz home

Although I had moved to Quezon City, I have found myself returning to Marikina and visiting the Kapitan Moy. It has a sense of home to me, maybe a past life? But it has also become such an integral part of the area, that locals have made the courtyard their playground and area for get-togethers.

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The exterior staircase that leads to the function hall

The Kapitan Moy isn’t the old house in the area, which was constructed during the Spanish (1523-1898) and American (1898-1946) occupations of the Philippines. On the J.P. Rizal street (named after the National Hero), where it is located I have documented many more of these ancestral homes.

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A view of the Kapitan Moy Residence exterior from J.P. Rizal street

All these house are well kept, through the coordination of the owners and the city government, as part of preserving the Marikina Culture and Heritage.

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