Oroquieta City boat house

Unique barko-barko house of Oroquieta City

The barko-barko, a house at the fork in Barangay Villaflor, Oroquieta CIty

The barko-barko, a house at the fork in Barangay Villaflor, Oroquieta CIty

Bust of Felicisimo Jonson Sr. who built the boat house

Bust of Felicisimo Jonson Sr. who built the boat house

Have you been to the barko barko in Villaflor? Taz, a Facebook friend messaged me while I was online and in Oroquieta City. No. I answered. I googled it up and, swell, was all I could utter.

Old photograph taken in the 1980s

Old photograph taken in the 1980s

The tricycle I rode to bring me to the barko-barko, the vernacular term that locals call the boat house in Barangay Villaflor, Oroquieta City motored at a moderate pace as I was looking out, admiring the many old houses built along the highway. One, two, three… and I just lost count of mostly from 50s to 70s wooden and concrete abodes.

After almost 30 minutes, on the old road leading to Calamaba municipality, the form of a blue and white house at the middle of a forked road took its shape, the closer I got to it until the driver told me, diri na ta sir, here we are now sir.

The interior of the second floor of the old house

The interior of the second floor of the old house

I gazed in amazement, took out my camera bag and tripod and started taking shots from the opposite side of the road while at the same time pausing and just admiring the beautiful structure.

A three storey building with the ground floor having the form of a ship for a fence. The second and third floors are squarish with clean and rounded edges that calls to mind the streamline moderne style.There were port holes and wide windows. At the veranda of the second floor, a bust of the builder is placed.

Photo of the couple who built the barko-barko

Photo of the couple who built the barko-barko

In a few minutes, Taz’s aunt, told of my coming, went out and greeted me. I went in while she was telling me about the house.

Di man ko kapalit ug barko, ako nalang balay gam-on ug barko-barko

Since I can’t afford to buy a ship, I’ll just make my house a boat.

This was what the patriarch reputed to have said one day. Built in 1952 by Felicisimo Jonson, Sr. He was a great friend of William Chiongbian, then owner of the now defunct William Lines in Cebu. For old timers, the shipping company was a well known passenger shipping firm ferrying passengers mainly between Cebu and Mindanao.

View from the house overlooking the forked road

View from the house overlooking the forked road

The original had only two storeys. The third was added in the 1980s. Further renovations later were done like concreting the entire first floor, adding a veranda in the second and a viewing platform infront of the house as well as making adjustments to the form of the fence to be more boat like.

Inside, while the ground floor interior is newer and typical of modern houses, it is the second floor, now painted blue that still retains the original feel of the house which I really love.

I didn’t linger much. After making photographs of the second and third storey interiors, I chatted with the owner and soon made my way back to the hotel in Oroquieta city center to pack up and proceed to Ozamiz City.

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications. He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces. I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

6 Comments

  1. Micole l Philippine Traveler
    August 23, 2013 @ 20:15

    The Photo overlooking the forked road looks like the boat is trying to sail in sea. Nice concept so unique!

  2. Kira Permunian
    September 7, 2013 @ 6:54

    I miss my hometown – Villaflor 🙂

  3. estancabigas
    September 7, 2013 @ 21:13

    thanx 🙂

  4. estancabigas
    September 7, 2013 @ 21:14

    i like Oroquieta bai 🙂

  5. Warrior Pilgrimage
    February 3, 2015 @ 12:02

    Nice post. 🙂

  6. estan
    February 3, 2015 @ 20:59

    Thanx!

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