Garden inspiration: Cafe Juanita

Have always loved the indulgent feel of Cafe Juanita in Pasig City.  Visited its new location (across the old one) last week and was happy to see the same quirky aesthetic translated to the garden setting:

Cafe Juanita  Apr2012 (5)

Cafe Juanita  Apr2012 (4)

Cafe Juanita  Apr2012 (7)

Simple layers of plants and outdoor elements (parrots!), put together with lots of love.


A must watch for every homebuilder…

…and anyone who’s ever imagined a dream home (that means you, me, and everybody)!

Groundbreaking episode of HOME BASE tomorrow, Saturday, April 28, 2012. This is a labor of love that my friends and I have been working hard on, hope you can watch and support!

From the team behind National Geographic Channel’s Inside: Malacanang, we bring you a realty show that will help you build not houses but HOMES. Please watch the premiere telecast of HOME BASE, tomorrow, 9:00-9:30am back-to-back with the Season 3 pilot episode of TURBO ZONE, feeding drives of the motoring public, 9:30-10:00am on GMA News TV.

It’s a double date tomorrow morning! 🙂

Interior Vertical Gardens

I’ve asked permission from a friend if I could post her research on indoor vertical gardens as a guest post here.  We had such a lively discussion about them over lunch a month ago– it was great finding a kindred green spirit right in Nuvali itself!  Am sure many others out there will resonate with these.  Thank you again, Duanne, for sharing your ideas and research:
Interior Vertical Gardens
by Duanne
You’ll see from below the form and built of the standing vertical garden.
(I was thinking of rollers installed at the bottom of the platform so it can be moved around.)
You’ll see from here how they use the standing vertical garden as a wall partition between living areas.
(I actually intend to do this at our future bedroom in Parkway Settings since the 2nd floor doesn’t have any partition.)
I was very inspired and loved the play of colors on the fully grown wall mounted plants on below photo.  It’s truly a living, breathing, green space.
And ang kulit ng concept ng photo with the bed of plants and the [wo]man figuring out how [s]he will water the plants on top.=)
Or if you happen to like a hanging vertical garden, then check the image below.
(By the way, I believe they used the Woolly Pockets in here.)

Another good green wall partitioning concept below with stacked potted plants.

Love green decorating, ‘no! =)


Pictures from various online sources.  

Ready for furniture shopping at Manila FAME

So excited for this!  It will be my first time at a CITEM trade show, and what a first time it will be– I’m coming in as an actual buyer and not just an usi or usisera.

Thanks again to my trusty friend, Claudine, for the heads up! 🙂

The fair will run for four days starting this Sunday, October 16, 2011.   More info and online registration at the Manila FAME International website.

UPDATE: Just called the Manila FAME Sectretariat (833-1258) and was advised that pre-registration to the trade fair is now closed.  Admission is at P500/day.



Architectural Components

Interior/Exterior Architectural moldings and millwork, columns and capitals, balustrades, wrought iron components, pressed tin and stamped steel ceiling tiles, brass tubing and fittings, period and contemporary hardware, plaster architectural elements, fireplace surrounds, etc.

Arts & Crafts

Local items including handicrafts, textile/fabrics for product applications (merchandise, both fashion and non-fashion, that uses indigenous materials made from natural fibers), handmade paper (made from handmade paper that uses natural fibers and recycled paper), basketry, and woodcarving, among others.


Movables that are both functional and decorative that distinguish the various settings of the home or any building structure (home/office); includes household, office and contract furniture, as well as furniture components.

Garden Accessories

Items for the garden such as tools, planters, pots, decor items.

Home Décor

Items for home interior that are functional or decorative. Dividers, door/floor mats, umbrella stands, decorative wall hangings and antique reproductions, among others, excluding picture and mirror frames, and art objects.

Kitchen & Tableware

Articles for the kitchen and dining table that are either functional or decorative.

Lamps & Lighting

Lamps, lighting fixtures and accessories to illuminate the home which can be both functional and decorative. Mirror & Picture Frames Home accessories for the living room, kitchen, bathroom, etc. made of wood, metal, plastics and natural materials.

Visual Arts

Paintings, framed pictures and sculptures.



Containers, storage, packaging materials, etc.

Christmas & Other Holiday Decorations

Seasonal decorations with designs associated with holiday occasions such as Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Easter, etc.

Gifts and Premium Items

Generally given as a gift or items used as souvenirs and tokens for any occasion, including gift packaging materials.

Stationery & Desk Accessories

Table/desk accessories like pencil holders, filers, notepads, stationery sets, as well as writing instruments.

Toys, Games & Dolls

Merchandise for entertainment, education and recreation of both children and adults, including collectibles like model cars and others.

Personal Care Products

Personal care includes products as diverse as colognes, deodorant, eyeliner, lipstick, lotion, makeup, mouthwash, pomade, perfumes, shampoo, shaving cream, skin cream, cleansing pads and wipes, lip gloss, and toothpaste, as well as handmade soaps made of natural materials.

Votives and Candles

Votives or candles that are decorative/ functional articles in homes and spas.

Spa Products

Restorative merchandise of marine origin both natural and processed: aquatic plants, salt, dirt, components of marine animals, as well as other natural products, such as plant extracts, essential oils, enzyme, vitamins, food supplements, etc.


Costume Jewelry

Body adornments made of materials other than gold, silver, and precious/semi-precious stones.

Fashion Complements

Fashion enhancers, usually worn in parts of the body or attached to clothing, they may also be carried as part of an overall look or may serve practical purposes.

Fine Jewelry

Body adornments made of gold, silver, and precious/semiprecious stones.


Fashion wearable for men and ladies made of leather, manmade materials, or indigenous/natural fibers.


Fashion enhancers made of leather or combining leather and natural/synthetic materials; may also be carried as part of the overall look or may serve practical purposes.

Nooks and crannies

I’ve always had a soft spot for nooks and crannies.

Hidden spaces turned into showcase areas, utility or storage space–whatever the owner fancies–these unexpected “bumps” in a house always felt warm to me, much like how a loved one’s imperfections end up so endearing.

tagaytay 19jul11 (76)

We didn’t have an architect for our houses in Tagaytay, and my mom pretty much let my dad have his way in designing them.

I recently noticed these unplanned nooks and cranies– what gems!  I can already picture different ways of sprucing them up. 🙂

tagaytay 19jul11 (75)

tagaytay 19jul11 (74)

The Nuvali house will be in the finishing stage in one month (if all goes as planned).

On one hand, I would love for the house to be seamless, flowing in one fluid motion, every space accounted for, which is especially critical because of its compact size.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t mind seeing nooks and crannies like these come September.

Banggerahan-inspired window

My dad is the rah-rah boy for the banggerahan, a window and sink extension common in traditional Pinoy kitchens, and he asked for a banggerahan-inspired window to be installed in our Tagaytay house:

tagaytay 19jul11 (64)

tagaytay 19jul11 (67)

It comes in handy for displaying planters, or just for good old ventilation, similar to horizontal ventanillas we saw in Treveia’s green home:

Treveia Green Home 01Jul2011(5)

Treveia 26Jun2011 (27)

These vents let air through from the outside:

Treveia 26Jun2011 (26)

Treveia 26Jun2011 (30)

Ingenious modernization of tried and tested Pinoy architecture!


Let’s build affordable Philippine green homes!

When I first read about the Postgreen Homes in Philadelphia on, I got excited because their prototype, the 100K House, looked almost exactly like the dream green home I had in mind for my Avida Settings Nuvali home.

Fullscreen capture 7262011 102858 PM

When I looked through their other projects, I got even more excited because these people behind Postgreen–the Ludemans–were already doing (in Philadelphia) what I wanted to do here in the Philippines:  build beautiful, true green homes that were affordable to the middle class.  

The Dwell article referred to the Ludemans as “citizen developers” and I love love love that.  When I was researching about green housing projects for inspiration last year, I came across intentional communities and how variants were coming about left and right.

One interesting version had the people come together first–think of one person teaming up with another to attract even more like-minded people.  They form the neighborhood association and draw up their dream community, and they get specific: where, how big, who, how, what.  Once they gather enough numbers, they property hunt together, and then build the physical community: the roads, permits, subdivisions of the lot, the master plan, etc.

I turned to my dad astounded that such a way of residential development actually existed, but he wasn’t so sure it would work in the Philippines.  We are, for the most part, loyal only to our families.  The concept of community is weak in the Philippines, or at the very least, it is young.

The Postgreen system is unique in the sense that it doesn’t aspire for a separate green community.  It builds its green homes in the here and now, fully integrated into existing neighborhoods in the residential districts of Philadelphia.

When I browsed through the other Postgreen Homes on their website, what I found extra interesting was how they built up and improved on the green features of their projects over time:

Fullscreen capture 7262011 90405 PM

Fullscreen capture 7262011 90508 PM

This one has a third floor and yes, a roofdeck!
Fullscreen capture 7262011 90603 PM

The Avant Garage goes beyond the roof deck and includes a green roof:
Fullscreen capture 7262011 90712 PM

Summary of features of Postgreen houses:

  • Solar Thermal
  • Solar PV
  • Passive House Air Sealing
  • Solatube Daylighting
  • Super Insulated
  • Air-to-Air Heat Pump
  • Heat Pump Water Heater
  • Dual Flush Toilet
  • Energy Monitoring
  • Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) <— aka HRV?
  • Rain Collection
  • Triple-Pane Windows
  • Energy Star Appliances
  • Low Flow fixtures
  • Low VOC Finishes/Paints
  • Double Stud Wall
  • Green Roof
  • Roof deck
  • Private Yard
  • Full Basement

I want to do this here, in Manila if able, because it’s where it’s most needed!  Will research which of these design features are applicable (also necessary) to affordable Philippine green housing.

In Avida Settings Nuvali, the only green requirement to build is the dual piping system, which was much of a let down for me. I hoped for more green suggestions from the developer at the very least, if not green requirements.  My own experience in having to fight for my green roof made me realize that although Ayala deserves accolades for initiating the country’s first large scale eco-community project, there is still much to learn and adjust in making this vision of a green community real… And as pioneer residents and stakeholders of Nuvali, that task falls on our shoulders as much as it does on Ayala as developer.

Affordable Green housing for $100k

The goal: to build small, sustainable houses at reasonable prices right in the middle of the city, with easy transit access.

Who’s doing it?  Postgreen Homes in Philadelphia!

Developers Chad Ludeman and his wife Courtney, shown in the picture with their son, built the $100K House (about Php4.2M) in 2009 as their prototype Postgreen Home in East Kensington, Philadelphia:

The 100k House project is our first and most well known project. Designed as a case study for building affordable LEED homes, these two houses have come to represent our ongoing efforts to build better homes for less. Both homes received LEED Platinum certification and the project won the USGBC LEED for Homes Project of the Year Award

The 100K house is about 111 square meters in area (1,200 sq ft), has two bedrooms and one bath.  Green features are as follows:



  • Solar Thermal
  • Solar PV
  • Passive House Air Sealing
  • Super Insulated
  • Solatube Daylighting
  • Private Yard
  • Full Basement
  • Air-to-Air Heat Pump
  • Dual Flush Toilet

The pictures tugged at my heart because they’re almost exactly what I had in mind for my Nuvali house: concrete floors, open plan design, flexi rooms!  

Look at these bicycle hooks under the stairs– great way to combine form and function, which I think is at the core of green design.

The house is green through and through, from pricing, to construction cost and materials, to design and energy needs:

The 100K House is close to 70 percent more energy efficient than the older properties next door, thanks to heavy-duty insulation, tight-fitting windows.

I especially like the emphasis on the lifestyle shift that the Ludemans insist on when one decides to go green.  More than anything, it is a paring down, a return to simplicity:

…for average working people to embrace Postgreen’s ethos, they must take Phillips’s ideas about accepting less to heart. The Ludemans’ home consists of two floors, the first little more than a concrete-floored rectangle housing a living space and the kitchen. Upstairs is Chad and Courtney’s modest bedroom, a small room for their son, Teague, and a bathroom that boasts the only door in the house. Bikes hang in plain view beneath the stairs; a small island with an induction cooktop separates the kitchen from the living space.

The home’s furnishings and fixtures are equally humble. A row of bare CFLs hangs from the ceiling of the living area, and the appliances in the kitchen are sturdy, efficient fare from Frigidaire. 

More on the other Postgreen homes later.

Found via
Images from Dwell

biomimicry in architecture

Do you know anyone (designer, artist, architect, professor) doing anything related to biomimicry in the Philippines?  Would love to learn more about this!

In any case, great green ideas from Michael Pawlyn on!  His three big steps forward in the sustainability revolution:

  • radical increases in resource efficiency
  • switch from a linear (i.e. wasteful) way of using resources to closed loop model
  • fossil fuel economy to solar economy

For all three, he says we should turn to nature’s genius for help (i.e. biomimicry).

Love the waterlily-inspired giant roof structures, and the idea of making money out of trash–it’s not just entrepreneurial but efficient!  Comments Liz McLellan:

One of the best things about closed loop thinking is one stops ignoring “waste” as something with no-value… It’s actually about squeezing every bit of value out of the way you operate.

Great principle applicable to any business, even households.

Did a quick search on biomimicry, noting down these sites for future reads:

Biomimicry Institute – a a free, open source project of the Biomimicry Institute to serve as the online inspiration source for the biomimicry community
Biomimicry projects on
Landscape Architeck: a compendium of new and noteworthy regarding the design of our built and natural environment.


Orchids, etc. for the home

Saw these potted orchids grouped together in one big vase at Milky Way Cafe:
Design inspiration

Beautiful. And great idea to group them and elevate on a table!

Milky Way Cafe is famous for its halo-halo, and was happy to see it still alive and buzzing after over 50 years of operation.
Design inspiration

The whole cafe felt like a warm home, so I tried to spot the other design elements that made it so:

Apart from the many indoor plants, there was enough breathing space in between the furniture. 3D art pieces like this tree sculpture helped give texture to the space–I like!
Design inspiration

There’s abundant natural light inside the cafe. I also love alcove lighting and noticed it in the hallway– nice if you want a warm but not overly bright room.
Design inspiration

I’m naturally drawn to creative pieces, and I appreciated the paintings in varied textures that gave color and drama to the place, like it had a story to tell.
Milky Way Cafe

I especially liked this toro collage, and would’ve reached out to touch if not for the glass cover:
Milky Way Cafe

Also noticed music being played in the lobby–great way to regulate the mood and keep it light and happy 🙂

House inspiration from Pinto Gallery

Sharing some design ideas I got from the home and gallery of Dr. Joven Cuanang, the visionary behind Pinto Art Gallery, which I finally got to visit for the Antipolo Earthfest 2011.  Only had a few hours to spare that day, but could’ve spent all day and night there– such a recharging place 🙂

I liked the loose, open feel to the whole complex…
Antipolo Earthfest 2011

Lots of daylight coming in…
Antipolo Earthfest 2011

The adobe-inspired walls (made of styled cement?) made me feel that the gallery was breathing.

The distressed, shabby-chic look gave it a more informal, practical vibe, one that encourages interaction and actual use (I don’t like anything “for display only”!):
Antipolo Earthfest 2011

Antipolo Earthfest 2011

Antipolo Earthfest 2011

Even these stairs felt so cozy to me:
Antipolo Earthfest 2011

Are these tiles or just polished concrete?
Antipolo Earthfest 2011

Wide open spaces in white and concrete.  Easy on the eyes (and pocket), right? 😛
Antipolo Earthfest 2011

Antipolo Earthfest 2011

Antipolo Earthfest 2011

I like the bay windows and rounded wooden table:
Antipolo Earthfest 2011

Also interesting way to hang art–by the corner:
Antipolo Earthfest 2011

Asked around for outdoor garden sets like this before–they don’t come cheap so will hunt down an old bed or maybe a bench that I can repurpose into an inviting daybed:
Antipolo Earthfest 2011

The Pinto Art Gallery and Museum has great, great energy to share and pass along, as with anything made with love.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a home with the same positive, enriching energy?

*    *    *
Pinto Art Gallery is in Garden Heights, Antipolo.  I’ve been told that the best time to visit is in the late afternoons– wait for the sunset!  More pictures from the Antipolo Earthfest 2011 on facebook.