Nestled across the Pangasinan Provincial Capitol in the Philippines stands a remarkable architectural gem known as Urduja House. Originally named Urduja Palace, this distinguished residence has served as the official home of the governor of Pangasinan since its construction in 1953. Steeped in history and cultural significance, Urduja House has witnessed the tenure of numerous governors and continues to hold a special place in the heart of the province.
The concept of an official residence for the governor of Pangasinan was first conceived by Governor Juan Rodriguez. Recognizing the challenges faced by governors who hailed from different parts of the province, Governor Rodriguez aimed to provide a convenient and comfortable residence for the governor while in the capital. Thus, he commissioned the construction of Urduja Palace, named after the legendary princess Urduja, who was said to have hailed from Tawilisi, a place believed to be located in present-day Pangasinan. Over time, the name was simplified to Urduja House due to its modest size, as it was not grand enough to be considered a palace.
Initially, Urduja House not only served as the governor’s residence but also housed the Governor’s Office until the term of Governor Amado Espino, Jr. In 2007, Governor Espino initiated a reorganization program, which relocated the governor’s office to the Capitol building, along with the Vice Governor and other Sangguniang Panlalawigan officials. As a result, Urduja House now primarily functions as the living quarters of the governor, as well as a ceremonial reception hall and a guesthouse for dignitaries staying overnight.
One of the notable features of Urduja House is a cherished portrait of Princess Urduja herself. Painted by Antonio Gonzalez Dumlao in 1954, the portrait was acquired by the provincial government on June 11, 2011, and is prominently displayed at the entryway of the residence. This artistic masterpiece pays homage to the legendary princess and adds a touch of historical significance to the house. Additionally, the residence is also adorned with a Fernando Amorsolo painting of Princess Urduja, commissioned by Governor Conrado Estrella, the first governor to reside in Urduja House.
Urduja House is part of the Pangasinan Provincial Capitol Complex, which encompasses other important landmarks such as the historic Sison Auditorium, the Finance Building, Lingayen Resort Hotel, and the Veterans Memorial Park. Its location, just a few meters away from the actual landing site, further enhances its prominence within the complex.
Beyond its architectural and historical significance, Urduja House stands as a symbol of pride for the people of Pangasinan. It serves as a tangible link to the province’s rich heritage and serves as a testament to the dedication of its governors throughout the years. The house is not only a private residence but also a representation of the province’s culture and traditions, welcoming dignitaries and guests with warmth and grace.
As Urduja House continues to be a cherished landmark in Pangasinan, it reminds us of the importance of preserving our heritage and honoring our past. Its enduring presence is a testament to the enduring spirit of the province and its commitment to upholding its traditions. Urduja House stands tall as a testament to the legacy of the governors who have called it home and remains an integral part of Pangasinan’s vibrant history.