Growing up in Mandaluyong City and then Cubao, we would visit my paternal grandparents, who lived along Life Scout José Antonio Chuidian Delgado, Jr. Street, in the area that was once part of the pre-War War II People’s Homesite and Housing Corporation (PHHC) residential project of President Manuel Luis Molina Quezón (1878-1944). This residential project was part of President Quezón plan to develop the new capitol city of Balintawak (now Quezon City), and he tasked Alejandro Gonzalez Roces, Sr. (1875-1943) and Tomás Eduardo Bernabéu Morató (1887-1965) to develop key residential areas. Part of the team of Morato and Roces was my grandfather, Luis Olivares.
The whole area was part of the Diliman Estate, which the government purchased from the Tuason clan, through the matriarch Doña Maria Teresa Eriberta De La Paz Tuason (1867-1951), as mitigated by her nephew Angel “Bobby” M. Tuason Valdez (1899-1948); and President Quezón’s team not just developed the area, but purchased lots to build their homes in the new city, while others took larger plots to sell at a latter point in time. The first home to be constructed in the new city was that of now-Quezon City Mayor Tomas Morató along the España Boulevard Extension (now the Senator Eulogio Adona Rodríguez Sr. Boulevard, while my grandfather just built two small plots of land with hopes to build homes for his children to inherit.
My grandparents, Luis Alvarez Olivares, Sr. (1899-1977) and Angustias Pasimio Olivares (1901-1984) were raising their family in the Santa Mesa de la Misericordia district (Holy Table of Mercy), at the border of Manila and the Municipality of San Juan del Monte. The old home was once part of the Jesuit lands that the American colonial government (1898-1946) purchased in 1902, with the United States of America Congress’ Act 1120 or “The Friar Land Act.” Their house was near the corner of Fortuna Street (Spanish for fortune) and España Boulevard Extension, and a walking distance from the Franciscan Capuchin’s Parroquia del Sagrado Corzaon de Jesus (Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish).
While living in Santa Mesa, my grandparents lost their eldest son, Luis Jr., to tetanus poisoning. To help in the comfort of the family, Luis Jr.’s godfather, National Artist for Sculpture Guillermo Estrella Tolentino (1890-1976), create a bust of the young boy, which is still with our clan to this day.
During the World War II’s 1945 Battle of Manila, my grandparents’ home burned down as the Japanese fled from the USAFFE (United States Army Forces in the Far East) troops. So after the war, my grandparents moved the whole family to the house along South 13 Street (now Scout Delgado Street), which my lolo (grandfather) had started construction, since his purchasing of the lot in 1938. He sold the second Quezon City lot, as well as the property in Santa Mesa, to make ends meet, as the near-total destruction of Manila had also saw the loss of his businesses.
Although financially strapped by business failing after the war, the move to Quezon City proved beneficial to the Olivares family. For their children Bel, Benjie, Danny, Ed, Elvy, Nene, Rod, Roger, and Totit, the move brought them close to their schools; as many of these universities and colleges also transferred to Quezon City from Manila. Among the schools that relocated to nearby Quezon City campuses were the Ateneo de Manila University, the Maryknoll College, the University of the Philippines, and the Saint Theresa’s College.
From the 1948 to the 1970s, my grandfather engaged in many businesses, but found the restoration of antique furniture and creation of replicas of such furniture quite bankable, as many families had many of their heirlooms damage or lost during the war. My grandfather also engaged in the production and export shell-craft and woodcraft from the town of Paete, as the 1960s saw a demand of Filipiñana products around the world. My father and some of his siblings join my lolo in this venture, while the other would carve their own niche in different businesses and settle down with their own families.
My aunt, Belinda, became a socio-political journalist and columnist, but started her writing career with her first article on the archeologist Dr. Henry Otley Beyer (1883-1966) and his work with ethnic Ifugao people of Banaue. This interest in cultural and historical writing is actually an Olivares “tradition,” which started with my great-grandfather, Anastacio “Tasio” A. Olivares, who penned the history of the Olivares’ hometown “Kasaysayan ng Bayang San Pedro Tunasan” (History of the Municipality of San Pedro Tunasan), which was published in 1963. Lolo Tasio chronicled San Pedro’s history from its founding in 1574, to the post World War II growth. In his book, Lolo Tasio noted of the contributions of the Olivares clan to the town and the country, from a Katipunan revolutionary general fighting against the Spanish colonialists, Betty Olivares Maloles a World War II spy against the Japanese, Florencio E. Olivares the 1930 representative to the first Independence Congress, World War II soldier and guerilla Lt. José Emilio Olivares, and the war hero and Philippine Constabulary commander General Flaviano Ponce Olivares (1911-1997).
Aside from the writing of Belinda, my uncle Roger is noted for writing the first tourist guide to the Philippines, “Roger’s Do-It-Yourself Tours to Philippines’ Major Attractions,” which was published in 1973. This book has been cited as an inspiration and source of information by the Lonely Planet’s founders Maureen and Tony Wheeler, when they published their first travel book “Across Asia on the Cheap: A Complete Guide to Making the Overland Trip” in 1975. In continuing the Olivares tradition of journalism and historical writing, I am a latecomer to this genre, as some of my cousins and my elder brother are recognized for their published works on travel and sports.
Another influence in my work in historical research are my parents, Danny and Neomi, who would take the family on vacations around the country, as well as visits to local historical sites and public art. From Philippine craft exports, my father would eventually work in the music industry, as serve as the president of PARI (Philippine Association of the Recording Industry) for more than 20 years. My mother, on the other hand, would first work in cultural affairs, such the American Embassy’s Thomas Jefferson Cultural Center in Makati and the Presidential Commission on Culture and the Arts (now the NCCA), before taking on legal proceedings with the Foundation for Judicial Excellence.
In designing the home, my lolo took inspiration of the Spanish colonial Bahay-na-Bato (House of Stone), using the natural adobe bedrock of the area as the building blocks of the ground floor of the house, which served as his office and workshop. Just like the Bahay-na-Bato, the living quarters was made of wood with wide windows for ventilation, and shutters of the translucent capiz shell (Placuna placenta) that let in ample light. The main American period variation that my lolo applies to the Bahay-na-Bato architecture was the entrance to the main house was from the outside stairway, rather than coming from the “basement.”
Following colonial traditions, there was the main kitchen area inside the house, and the “dirty kitchen” and laundry area in the backyard. Although there were six doors that would indicate the five different bedrooms and the kitchen, the walls would continually adjust in size to accommodate the needs of the family. Another American era addition to the house were the wrought iron grills at the windows, which were placed to keep thieves from getting inside or my uncles from sneaking out at night.
Life along scout Delgado Street was quite dynamic for the Olivares family, as the population quickly grew from a patchwork of houses and grassy lots in the 1950s, to a busy set of roads with mixed housing and business establishments in the 1980s. Despite all the changes, the Olivares home was a constant in the neighborhood, as well as Parish of the Sacred Heart of Jesus at the lot between First Class Scout Rogelio Celis Ybardolaza, Scoutmaster Librado L. S. Fernandez, and First Class Scout Felix Palma Fuentebella, Jr. streets and the Delgado Clinic on Kamuning Road. In fact, Dr. Jesus Concepción Delgado, Jr. and his wife, Carmen, moved in across Scout Delgado Street and set up their first clinic at the same time my grandparents settled down in the area.
After my grandparents died in 1977 and 1981, no one lived in the house, with the exception of a caretaker and the small workshop maintained by my uncle at the basement. Every-now-and-then, a relative would use the house for short periods of time, especially for those who have come from abroad. However as the years passed, the house slowly deteriorated and some relatives would make the place a storage place for things they didn’t want to keep in their own houses. This would prove a challenge for my wife and I, as we had decided to move into the house and restore it. So for two months in 2004, we worked side-by-side with two carpenters and an electrician, we finally brought the new life to this place. We painted the whole exterior yellow, and thus dubbed her “Bahay na Dilaw” or the yellow house.
Until the 1980s, three generations of the Olivares clan lived in the Bahay-na-Dilaw. Starting with my grandparents and with my father and his siblings, they were joined by the eldest of my cousins in 1948. Now with my own family taking residence in the house, our daughter represented fourth generation of Olivares. To commemorate this, we had a family portrait taken in 2007, featuring my parents, my siblings and I with our spouses, and my daughter and her two cousins.
During the period no one was living in the house, local film studios took advantage of having an ancestral house with colonial period features nearby. This started with the first film “Sana’y Wala Nang Wakas” (Hoping there is No Ending) in 1986. This was followed by several television episodes of the 1990s drama anthology series “Maalaala Mo Kaya” (Would You Remember) by the ABS-CBN network. When we moved into the Bahay na Dilaw, the renovated house once more drew the attention of the neighboring films studios, as well as our own friends from the Mowelfund. Soon, ABS-CBN was holding cinematography workshops using the architecture and its textures as the subject, and the Knowledge Channel did an episode with the late Arvin “Tado” Impuesto Jimenez (1974-2014). Other films and television shows shot at the house are:
1986 Sana’y Wala Nang Wakas directed by Leroy Salvador for Viva Films
1991 Maalaala Mo Kaya by the ABS-CBN network
2005 Ilusyon directed by Paolo Villaluna and Ellen Ramos for Pelipula and Viva films
2005-2006 My Guardian Abby by the GMA network
2008 Boses directed by Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil for Erasto Films
2008 Teach Me to Love directed by National Artist for Film Edgar “Eddie” Sinco Romero (1924-2013)
2011 My Lover, My Wife directed by Jay Altarejos for the GMA network
We had many visitors who were not just attracted to the house’s architecture, but it was also a showcase of antiques from my family. I restored some of the damaged furniture left my grandparents, as well as those of my uncles and aunts. In fact, I kept my grandparents’ rotary phone for our landline, to prevent the people from making long distance and collect calls. And aside from restored antiques, my wife and I also had our own collections on display, especially the artifacts I have collected from my travels among different ethnic groups of the Philippines.
With our network of visual artists, filmmakers, and advocates; the old house soon became a hub for artists and activists to hang out. We would have spontaneous film showings, even on-the-spot dance sessions, art workshops, and even planning sessions with various human rights and environmental advocates. People chose to visit our home, not just to enjoy our company, but to relax and feel as they are transported back into a simpler time, as the sounds of the busy streets are drowned out by the lush greenery of the backyard. And due to the thick foliage provided by three trees of Tubang Bakod (Jatropha Curcas), Duhat (Black Plum, Sizygium cumini) and Kaimito (Star Apple, Chrysophyllum cainito) around the house, we would wake up to the bird song every morning. And in the summer, my daughter would climb the duhat tree and harvest its fruit for her consumption, and sharing with friends.
Eventually I would be carrying on with my lolo’s work tradition, as I would turn the backyard into my design studio, creating parade floats and murals. I would also hold workshops that cover basic artmaking for children and adults, as well as mandala making workshops.
However, after calling the Bahay na Diwa our home for eight years, my family had to bid farewell. Many of my aunts and uncles we falling ill, and we had to sell the house to augment their finances. But we ensured that the new owner of the house would preserve its legacy. So on October 2012, we packed the last of our things and moved to our new home in Project 4, but before that my aunt and I made sure that the owners would know of the story of the house and the Olivares clan.
The new owners showed great care in continuing the restoration of our old home, especially in fixing that leak in the roof that I have been working on for years. They invested in using antique wood taken from demolished ancestral homes to replace the warped and damaged floor and wooden panels. However, after completing the restoration, the owners ran into some problems that they could not open the restaurant that they wanted. So in 2015, the leased out the property, and at the end 2017 the old house was opened to the public as the restaurant Roice’s Restaurant + G.
In January 2018, my cousins and I returned to the old house, to taste the fare of Roice’s Restaurant + G, and reminisce about the old house. Although the owners of the restaurant repainted the house black inside and out, most of the original architecture remained intact. It was sad to see that the kaimito tree was cut down to make way for a sidewalk; however the tubing bakod and duhat trees are still there. Inside the restaurant are some digital artworks by the film director, Milo Sogueco, whom I have worked with in a film documentary in the island of Sulu, in 1999.
In 2019, the Restaurant + G underwent new management and was rebranded as the Delgado 112. Despite its name change and black paint, to my family and my clan, this is still our home that tells the story of the Olivares family and the shaping of Quezon City.
Olivares Trivia 1:
My grandparents and Uncle Luis, Jr. were first buried at the Holy Cross Memorial Park, in Novaliches. Their bodies were recently cremated and transferred to the Garden of the Divine Word, inside the Christ the King Mission Seminary compound, along Senator Eulogio “Amang” Adona Rodríguez Sr. Boulevard; the were interred with my Uncle Roger, to be easily accessible to all family members.
Olivares Trivia 2:
It is believed that our bloodline comes from the family of Gaspar de Guzmán y Pimentel (1587-1645), Count of Olivares, of Spain. In the early 1900s, his descendant, Don Eduardo Francisco Olivares y Tello De (1860-1935) moved from Cadiz, Spain, to the island of Panay, where he married an “indio” (native), Potenciana Aldeguer, and began the Bisayan Olivares clan. Don Eduardo’s brother and sister, Carmen Olivares Tello de Meneses, moved from Cadiz to Cavite, starting the Tagalog Olivares bloodline.
Olivares Trivia 3: