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.
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.
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.
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.
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.