World events helped spark the idea for the bahay-na-bato’s creation. In particular, these events were in 1834, when Manila began to take part in international trade and in 1869 when the Philippines’ elite, especially those in the provinces, began to enjoy a fruits of an increased trade and agricultural production through the opening of the Suez Canal.
From the Philippine side, the bahay-na-bato takes the best features of its traditional bahay kubo (nipa hut), with its “steep hip roof, elevated quarters, post-and-lintel construction, and maximized ventilation features (Perez, 2007).”
The house’s stone material and its various rooms signify Spanish influences. There’s the zaguan, the spacious entrance hall that also serves as a storeroom; the caida or the living room; the dining area; the kitchen; the azotea, which is a roof terrace; and the volada, a gallery that serves to insulate the other rooms from the sun’s heat.
Other interesting features of the bahay-na-bato include a window system that runs along the volada. Here, the window sill holds two to three sliding shutters: wooden jalousies, capiz or oyster shell shutters and sometimes, glass-paned shutters (Perez, 2007).
Massive double doors also connect rooms to each other. These doors make one whole floor of the house seem a lot bigger and more spacious when kept open, as in one grand hall. This feature thus makes the house flexible enough to accommodate various numbers of people at one time, be it in one or more rooms.
Some famous bahay-na-bato
In the Philippines, there is a place where old bahay-na-bato from all over the Philippines’ many islands can be found re-built and refurbished into its former glory. Called Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, this place combines culture, history and beach life.