Calle Varela 268 in Flores, Buenos Aires, Argentina, is a modest one-story affair with bars on its window and two main entrances leading to separate flats. What makes it extraordinary, however, is the sign that reads, “Pope Francis was born here.”
For years, historians identified a house on Calle Membrillar as the future pope’s official place of birth. But historian Daniel Vargas set the record straight when he tracked down the birth certificate of one Jorge Mario Bergoglio (a.k.a. Pope Francis) in 2014 and sent it to Rome for authentication. Lolo Kiko confirmed Daniel’s findings himself by phoning the historian and telling him that he had indeed lived in Calle Varela 268 during the first five years of his life.
Heritage homes give us a fascinating view not only into the lives of the people who lived in them, but of history as we know it.
In the Philippines, where ancestral homes are found all over the archipelago, the town of Taal in Batangas, has created a walking tour that includes many of its well-preserved heritage homes. Consider each one a history lesson on the Philippines, and the residents who once called these houses home.
Marcela Agoncillo Museum
Built around the 1780s, making it one of the oldest edifices in Taal, this two-story Spanish Colonial-era house was home to Marcela Mariño de Agoncillo, maker of the first Philippine flag, and her husband Felipe Agoncillo, recognized as the “First Filipino Diplomat.” The house was eventually converted into a museum and declared a national shrine by the National Historical Commission.
Eulalio and Gliceria Marella Villavicencio house
Otherwise known as Casa V, this circa 1850s bahay na bato on the corner of Gliceria Marella and Del Castillo Streets belonged to a couple who actively supported the Revolution. In fact, the house (with its Art Nouveau details and original tin ceilings) even served as army headquarters!
Shipping magnate Don Eulalio sailed to Hong Kong to personally hand Dr. Jose Rizal the then princely sum of P18,000 to fund his propaganda movement against Spain. Jailed for a year for his participation in the movement, Don Eulalio died months after his release. Born into wealth and considered the Matriarch-General of the Revolutionary Forces, Doña Gliceria allowed the use of the family ship SS Bulusan to ferry troops, ammunition, and food.
Villavicencio Wedding Gift House
A present from Don Eulalio to Doña Gliceria on their wedding day in 1871, this airy, two-story bahay na bato was where the couple lived until they moved to the house next to it upon death of Don Eulalio’s parents. Long-staying guests held residence here; among them, the painter Juan Luna, who presented the couple with their portraits as a way of saying thanks for hosting him and his brother Antonio.
Though the house had practically fallen apart from years of neglect and wear and tear, heirs to the property helped restore it to its former glory, making it one of the must-sees on a trip to Taal.