By Nikka Garriga
While most of Sorsogon's town may boast of unexplored islands and natural hot springs, the quaint town of Juban offers a different experience for the wandering tourist.
Along the Maharlika Road are a number of ancestral houses that trace its history back to the early years of the Spanish settlement in the country.
One such structure that still exist is Casa Feliz. Built in 1898, the first owner of the house was Don Leoncio Grajo who was elected the First Representative of Sorsogon in the Philippine Assembly of 1912.
The house became Don Leoncio's district office during his incumbency. His son, Leoncio Grajo Jr., inherited the house after his death. However, the young Leoncio had to sell the place to his sister Lourdes Grajo Hubilla to pursue his career in Manila.
Years later, the succeeding members of the Grajo family decided to transfer the house to their long-time neighbor Dr. Teresita Lasala Ruth who is now acknowledged as its owner.
The Lasalas went on restoring the almost dilapidated Grajo ancestral house along with another similar property in coordination with the National Historic Commission.
“It was important for us to retain its original structure because we want it to serve as a landmark of Juban's rich history for the next generation,” explains Lourdes Lasala.
There were quite a number of ancestral houses in Juban.
However, Lourdes says not many of them survived over the years and only a few, such as Casa Feliz, still manage to stand as among the documented ancestral houses in the Bicol region. The newly-restored house was intended to serve as the family's vacation place.
But when it caught the eye of many tourists, and even those just passing-by Juban in transit, the Lasalas opted to convert the place into an inn.
Casa Feliz was named in honor of Dr. Teresita's mother.
Though some parts of the interior had to be refurbished, traces of its original structure are still apparent in the wooden floors, the large, square windows with its capiz-infused details and the grand stairs leading to its main entrance.
Rates at Casa Feliz are also fairly competitive considering its historic value and appeal. The family rooms can accommodate big groups for just P200 per head per day, while air-conditioned rooms with two king-sized beds are at P1, 000 per day. The spacious lawn at its backyard is also a venue for occasions like parties, weddings and seminars in the area.
Whether you are out to hit the beaches or relax in the hot springs, make it a point to stop by the ancestral houses of Juban to complete the entire Sorsogon experience.
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