The grand opening of the restored Valdes-Lardizabal House, now called Balay San Nicolas, is an important cultural tourism event in San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte.
Headed the guestlist was Tourism Sec. Bernadette Romulo- Puyat, the inauguration of the 19th century bahay na bato was also attended by key personalities of the province and the town which include Gov. Matthew Marcos Manotoc, Vice Gov. Cecilia Araneta-Marcos, Rep. Angelo Marcos Barba, Mayor Alfredo Valdez Jr., Vice Mayor Marlow Valdez, Consul Annette Ablan, and National Museum Ilocos representative Paolo Mar Chan.
The San Nicolas Bin-I Foundation, Inc. together with art patron Dr. Joven Cuanang, helped the local government in the restoration of the house, wich was declared an important cultural property (ICP) by the National Museum in 2015.
Apart from the house, the 2015 ICP declarations also included the San Nicolas de Tolentino Church, convent (Santa Rosa Academy,), Via Crucis structures, San Nicolas Central School building, Municipio, and Nagrebcan archaeological site.
Mayor Valdes, who described the house ( known by the townfolks “kabite”, Ilocano word meaning big strong bato) as the most significant among the heritage houses of San Nicolas, said the restored house will now be a cultural tourism center with the Valdes-Lardizabal family memorabilia, a souvenir shop, restaurant, events place, a DOT Office, and exhibition spaces for artists.
He said the house is their town’s identity that needs to be preserved for the appreciation not only of the San Nicoleños but of the Filipinos in general.
The Tourism Secretary, in her speech, congratulated the local government and its partners in the restoration and the inauguration of the house which she said: “has witnessed many historical events, as well as mundane activities of the townsfolk—all vital to the heritage of San Nicolas which gives visitors a unique, exciting, and meaningful experience.”
As an Important Cultural Property, it deserves to be restored to its grandeur and be a significant landmark, not only in the municipality, but the whole province, and she said the house will be a living museum that tourists can visit and appreciate.
“As the tourism industry strives to recover from the adverse impacts of the pandemic, we have been ramping up efforts toward promoting sustainable tourism, which UNESCO defines as ‘tourism that respects both local people and the traveler, cultural heritage and the environment,’” she stressed.
“From this day on, Balay San Nicolas will be an important cultural vessel and a storyteller to future visitors,” she went on.
On the other hand, Governor Manotoc and Rep. Barba both congratulated the local government and all those involved in the restoration of the house.
Barba , who hails from the town, said he is glad to see another tourist site opened in the Ilocos region.
He said this is “one step towards truly establishing San Nicolas as a Tourist Town.”
The inauguration was marked by a cultural show of the Bin-I Foundation which featured among others, the Ilocano folk song “Pamulinawen” and poetic chant dallot.
A fashion show of Abel Ilocos featuring designs by Edgar Madamba, Vic Barba, and Niña Corpuz was also one of the highlights of the successful late afternoon event, followed by cocktails with Ilocano merienda cena fare.