“Along Carlos P. Garcia Avenue, the main thoroughfare in Tagbilaran, a number of impressive mansions can be found, the most beautiful of which is, without doubt, the CASEÑAS MANSION, a witness to an eventful and dramatic history. One of the most ornate vintage houses in Bohol, this ancestral house of the prominent Caseñas family is unfortunately hidden from view by a nondescript store in front of it. Practically unaltered, the Caseñas Mansion still presents itself almost exactly the way it looked when it was built in 1937, providing a vivid picture of the luxurious life-style of the Boholano elite during the Commonwealth period. Its original owners were Jose Caseñas, a lawyer, and Gertrudes de la Serna, a businesswoman. The Caseñas family originates from Jagna, where another impressive ancestral house of theirs still stands opposite the market (see p. 275). Coming from a political family, Jose Caseñas once served as mayor of Jagna, while his brother Filomeno became a governor of Bohol during the American era. For economic and political reasons, the family later moved to Tagbilaran, where they were the first to own a private car, and set up this impressive mansion, said to have been designed by Jose himself. Not surprisingly, it served as a military headquarters during the Second World War for both the Japanese invaders and later their American counterparts. Saved from wartime devastation, the mansion narrowly escaped destruction by fire in 1976, when the school fronting it burned down. With its cross-shaped floor plan, dark blue roofs and canopies set against bright white walls, and highly ornate facade, the house is a sight to behold. Richly decorated floral calados, intricately carved roof and canopy brackets, exquisitely designed ventanilla grills, colored glass windows, and many other rich architectural details combine into an unparalleled visual fiesta. Inside, the feast continues, with elaborately carved wall panels, dividers and arches, period furniture, and a grand staircase, holding war secrets of a long passed, dramatic era in their midst. Built by the best carpenters in town with superior materials, the house is still in excellent condition, passed down from generation to generation of owners fortunately aware of its immense historic and cultural value.”

Text from the book Casa Boholana: Vintage Houses of Bohol, by Erik Akpedonu and Czarina Saloma, 2011

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