Taking on a job half a world’s away from his home base in Los Angeles, California is far from the mind of interior designer Edward Soriano. He has been away from the Philippines for more than half of his life and his work as an interior designer in Los Angeles is thriving.
Besides, he has not yet done a project in the Philippines, in fact, in any tropical country. But upon the prodding of his long-time friend, Emma Bodota, who is also based in Los Angeles, and a prominent figure in the tourism sector in Anilao, Batangas, Soriano took on the challenge of building what would be Bodota’s retirement home.
Soriano’s task seemed simple as Bodota wanted a modern home. She owns Crystal Blue Resort, a well-known dive destination in Batangas, and where at its top, her home would be built.
Modern homes emphasize clean lines and geometric shapes, open floor plans, celebration of natural light, the use of natural materials, as well as neutral color palette, and for Soriano, the location of his friend’s house is perfect for this project.
Soon, he found himself deep into helping out with Bodota’s house which would further his knowledge on construction for tropical weather homes. He also banked on his work experience in the US as he also does there home stagings, where he furnishes and beautifies houses up for selling, something that is not done in the Philippines.
Soriano actually came into the project with some of its structures already done. Not satisfied with what he saw, he had to demolish a wall between what should have been two rooms, tiles flooring replaced, electrical installations ripped, among others.
While working on the house’s structure with an architect and other building professionals, he also began to source out local materials in Batangas to be used for furnishings and decorations.
He asked his friend Melvin Mangada, who is an art collector, to find him an artist. They were able to get Popo San Pascual, a well-known artist from Tagaytay.
Soriano was able to finish the project in less than a year’s time. The house’s walls are all glass. It has no intricate designs, and has very simple colors, only white and gray.
It has two floors, with a view deck, and consists of five bedrooms, five toilets and bath, and a swimming pool with its own toilet and bath. The house itself is about 400 sq.m., situated at the center of a 3,391-sq.m. lot.
The exterior furnitures are made of teak wood, the rest are mahogany. In the house’s interior, yakal was used while a wooden table placed inside the house is made of acacia. Every furniture in the house is customized, designed, and made locally in the Philippines.
San Pascual’s artwork, which compliments the house and the scenery, is blue in color to mimic the sea and features sea critters as this was the main focus of Bodota’s resort business with scuba diving.
As the house’s walls are all made of glass, it doesn’t need more artwork as it shows the energy colors of the water and the ever-present changing sky and sunset. That alone is art.
The project was an eye-opener for Soriano. Because aside from learning how to build a house for a tropical country, which is mainly made of concrete, metal furring, among others, he was also taught that doing business in the Philippines is not exactly a walk in the park.
Soriano had to deal with the Filipino culture, the workers, contractors, government agencies, and even with the community. He had to learn the weather peculiarities of the Philippines, and that design and function of the house should adapt to the weather. Learnings that he would take back when he goes back to the US.