of modern Filipino
|Author: Marge C. Enriquez
THE architects and designers of
Francisco Ma?osa & Partners live
what they preach, especially in
applying the Filipino aesthetics.
''We try to convince anyone who
approaches us to patronize what's
ours. Our weather calls for tropical
houses and the use of indigenous
materials. You can't go wrong with
this philosophy. There's nowhere
else we can build these types of
homes,'' says Maria Cecilia ''Chelo''
Hofile?a, head of the Ma?osa's
interior design department.
Her abode in Para?aque is a perfect
example of modern Filipino
architecture. She'd rather have an airy house, and fill spaces
with rattan furniture and plants than import a chandelier and
have crystals flowing in the wind. Hofile?a says the chandelier's
foreign origin becomes more pronounced.
However, she's not eschewing the idea of chandeliers and
Italian marble, if there's a reason such as decorating a thematic
restaurant or home or designing for a play.
''I don't see the sense of having a French look in the tropics,'''
says Hofile?a. She'd rather go to France to appreciate it in its
In turn, while traveling, she not
only gets to understand the way
other people live but she also
learns to appreciate what is Filipino.
Asked what's her definition of our
indigenous architecture, Hofile?a
says it's a house that's airy and
attached to the earth with familiar
materials such as reeds and palms.
The bahay kubo exemplifies this.
But it is often looked down as a
flimsy hut for plebeians unsuitable
to city living.
But this is because people's minds have been conditioned by
the story of the three little pigs and the big bad wolf. The
antagonist blew away the houses of twigs and woods. Thus,
they were conceived as frail. The wolf failed when the third pig
built a stone house.
Hofile?a believes that a house doesn't have to be completely
solid or all-cement. ''You can reinforce a wooden structure to
give it strength. But it shouldn't deprive you to enjoy
ventilation by having windows.'''
She says design evolves, and there are ways to stylize the
bahay kubo concept and adapt it to the milieu. For instance, the
traditional bahay kubo has bamboo slats on the floor. In a
modern house, these slats can be translated into planks. This is
what she had done to her house.
''I can't afford molave and narra. I'd go for other types of wood
which are within my reach such as the tanguile and bamboo.
They stand out in how they are used,'' says Hofile?a. ''As these
materials are upgraded or used in an unfamiliar way, people will
give them a second look.''
The colors are natural since the materials are from the earth.
Adding contrast to the color scheme is the landscape. ''Because
the colors are from nature, the house looks restful. There's no
jarring color,'' says Hofile?a.
There are no curtains. Like in most ancestral homes, moldings
hold up the ceiling.
When Hofile?a renovated her home in Para?aque, she took note
of what most Filipino homes need today: cross-ventilation so
that the house isn't like an oven in summer, and multipurpose
''Some homeowners give us a long
list of rooms and end up wondering
why their houses are so huge. You
end up building more rooms than
what's actually needed. Many
activities can be cramped in one
room. Space is expensive. I'd rather
use the space for a garden that I can
look at for days instead of building a
room where I rarely enter,'' says
The living room is like a gazebo,
without any doors and windows. The
flooring is made of stone. The eaves
of the roof extend far out to shield
the area. When the typhoon signal
hits 3, that's the only time the
furniture are brought indoors.
Because the living room is on the side of the house, one can
enjoy the garden. Since the houses are not close to each other,
Hofile?a blocks them off with greenery. The pond is not only
soothing to the senses, but is also a visual surprise in the
In the second floor, one can still enjoy the greenery, as the
azotea cum family room overlooks the pond. To block off the
sight of the garage, a mirror was built on a wall of the
multipurpose room to reflect the image of the garden.
Hofile?a developed a clever way of using the space in her
daughter's room which is a long hall with partitions. The
designer built a movable wall which is adjusted when there's a
visitor at home. When there are no guests, she pushes the back
wall so the daughter can enjoy more space.
The ceiling is decorated with reflectorized stars so it looks like
an evening sky. In the dining room, doors can be drawn away
and hidden so guests can enjoy more greenery.
Unlike other homes which brandish their artworks and furniture,
Hofile?a keeps everything simple. Although her items are not
expensive, they're stylish. Edwardo Yrezabal designed the rattan
furniture which blends with the stone and wood architecture.
She favors personal things to status symbols and collectibles,
particularly family photos. Books and handicrafts also decorate
her house. ''There's so much beauty in something simple,'' says