Old structures are often great reminders of the once glorious past.
However simple or grand a dated structure may seem, it would always serve as a reminder of and a window to what could have been colorful snippets of a nostalgic past.
As such, the preservation of such structures—be it a house, a building or a monument—has long been pushed by many groups and stakeholders, as these could serve as powerful reminders for the current and future generations about how life once was, back in the days when gadgets and technology were all still unheard of.
Knowing your roots
Ancestral houses, in particular, have long been considered as the perfect medium that can allow today’s generation to reconnect to their past and know more about their ancestors.
But what makes ancestral houses all the more interesting are the stories behind them.
For instance, one ancestral house in Santolan, Pasig has served as a quiet witness to how one of the country’s biggest and most respected real estate developers was built.
This house—which used to be a typical bahay na bato—was where the small scale property developer Buen-Mar Realty was founded in 1972 by siblings Buenaventura Robles and Marcela Robles-Santos, together with their respective spouses Dominga Dumandan-Robles and Felipe G. Santos. It was in the same house that the company was nurtured until it became Sta. Lucia Land Inc. (SLLI).
The ancestral house was where the founders grew up, together with their siblings, and where the concept of creating a company that would develop idle lands into highly livable spaces was formalized.
“This house used to be the office of Buen-Mar Realty, a property company that was established by my mother Marcela with my uncle Buenaventura. The old typewriter and the little corner were they used to hold office and process papers are still here. The family made sure that the place remains in good condition despite the many typhoons and flooding in the area,” said Sta. Lucia East Mall vice president for operations Zaldy Santos.
“This house means so much to the family. Many memories were made and created here and these made it priceless and truly valuable. We’ve tried as much as we can to preserve it but time and natural calamities forced us to apply various changes,” Santos explained.
According to Santos, the house was heavily damaged when Tropical Storm Ondoy devastated parts of Luzon in 2009. Some of the old house memorabilia were damaged.
“It took us almost a year to fix everything as we need to find the right materials and be careful in the handling process. However, there were some parts of the house that we really had to change either because of the termites or due to natural causes. The wood and other materials that we were able to save from the old structures we incorporated in the new structure,” Santos related.
Indeed, the ancestral house of the Robles-Santos clan exudes both a modern and rustic feel upon entry. A trip to the house gives one that nostalgic feel as if you were a part of a glorious past—back when the company was still struggling to make a name for itself with the purpose of providing decent shelter to neighboring communities and to every Robles and Santos family member.
“The house holds so much memory that you simply can’t let it go. More than the value of the material stuff that the house contains, it is the rare privilege of being able to go back to the old days when the family was still complete that makes it truly valuable. Many firsts happened here, contracts and deals were closed here and these are the ones that paved the way for SLLI to grow and become a trusted brand,” Santos said.
“Our (company) president, Exequiel Robles, used to type and make contracts using this old typewriter when he was tasked to take over the business during the untimely demise of our parents,” he further noted.
Although slightly infused with a modern vibe, the house can still give one the feels, that rare privilege to take a peek into the lives of the people who were responsible for the rise of some of the country’s most coveted and masterfully planned communities.
“This house will remain special to the family as it is where we trace our roots. It is where the dreams of our ancestors were realized and nurtured and it is where one great legacy has found its beginning,” he said.
“This house will always serve as a reminder of SLLI’s humble beginnings as well as our commitment to continue with our mission of helping fulfill the dream of every hardworking and deserving individual to own a decent home,” Santos concluded.

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