WHERE THE HEART IS: The history behind the Vera-Perez Ancestral Home

The Ancestral Home in Sampaguita Gardens was built in the 1940's. It continues to be a testament to the rich history of the ancestral home of Senator Jose and Dolores Honrado – Vera, and their two children Azucena “Nene” and Gregorio “Goyito.”

The vast, leafy enclave of 36 Valencia Street has long been known in local circles as the home of the Vera-Perez Family and Sampaguita Pictures, Inc.’s celebrated film studio, yet the stories within the gated walls of the property go beyond the glitz and glamour of the Philippine movie industry.

At the height of the Pacific War, Sampaguita Studios was converted into a Japanese Food Garrison for military purposes, leaving all activity confined solely in the ancestral home. Save for Senator Jose O. Vera, Dolores Honrado – Vera (affectionately called “Mommy Vera”), their daughter Nene and her husband, Dr. Jose Perez and their children, Marichu and Pepito (who were the only children at that time) and a handful of handlers, much of the residents were ordered to evacuate by the new Japanese inhabitants of the property.

Fortunately for the Vera – Perezes, the head of the garrison, Capt. Hayashuka, was a sympathetic man who held a great deal of respect for Senator Vera and his family, giving them enough freedom to get by the security constraints comfortably – a rare luxury at that time. At the same time, the Vera – Perez family also took advantage of the hidden intricacies of the lavish house, among which was a trap-door that led to a closet, which was equipped with a radio to give them access to the outside world.

As World War II eventually made its way to The Philippines, the ancestral home of the Vera – Perez Family and its residents remained unscathed – a miracle in the eyes of many, particularly to the surviving generations of the Vera – Perezes who continue to recognise the property as a fortress of strength, reverence and splendor that has also been an outlook by which all activity within the storied Vera – Perez Gardens adheres to.