The Grand Budapest Hotel as furniture

Grand Budapest (15)

Last week, I watched Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel in Greenbelt, Makati. It was the kind of film I felt deserved to be seen on the big screen, and besides, I was too impatient to wait for the torrents to be made available online (I found out that they released the torrent the same week they released it theatrically).

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Cavite Staycation: Bougainvilleas

Just recently, I was at Puerto Azul with the folks for a family staycation. We stayed at this beautiful mansion, and spent a few hours at a nearby beach.



A shrub of bougainvilleas along Puerto Azul


I wrote about my stay in Puerto Azul in the links above, but I’d like to also talk about the bougainvillea plants I saw all around Ternate, Cavite. Most of them I saw in Puerto Azul’s residential village, and I was struck at how beautiful and majestic the flowers were.





Some of the bougainvilleas that pepper Puerto Azul


I see them all over Metro Manila, but I only got to appreciate the ubiquitous flowers on my Puerto Azul staycation. It was growing in intense heaps all over the village. Trees, shrubs, and flowers grew wildly, and the greenery was dominated by this simple yet colorful foliage.






More of Puerto Azul’s bougainvilleas


Bougainvilleas are native to South America, but also grow in countries with warm climates. Bougainvilleas grow in Brazil, Peru, Spain, Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, Cuba, Venezuela, and of course, the Philippines. It is known by many names, but bougainvilleas are known as bonggang villa in the Philippines.

Switzerland’s Locarno is famous for its bougainvilleas.






The house we stayed at in Puerto Azul also had its own bougainvilleas


They are known for the colorful flowers they grow, from pink to magenta, white, purple, red, orange, and yellow. Bougainvilleas can instantly brighten up a simple garden, but the bougainvilleas I saw in Puerto Azul lit the streets with its vibrant colors. Bougainvilleas are best appreciated in large clumps, when the sheer abundance of grandeur can overwhelm the senses.

Bougainvilleas are low-maintenance flowers because they are drought-resistant and versatile. They can be planted along walls, on fences, in baskets and containers. And best of all, they flower all-year round in equatorial areas! I plan on filling up our garden with bougainvilleas.


Cavite Staycation: The House

Last week, I was at Puerto Azul in Ternate, Cavite, with the folks for a staycation and to celebrate my uncle’s birthday. Puerto Azul is notorious for its crumbling facade, which was once described as Asia’s Paradise Resort. It was an exclusive resort complex that catered to rich locals and foreigners, especially golfers. Its 3,3oo hectare land holds a a golf course designed by legendary golfer Gary Player, a beach, and a hotel with 340 rooms in 17 clusters. In fact, Leandro Locsin designed the main clubhouse, which still stands today.

Today, Puerto Azul is a shadow of its former self. The golf course is now dry and barren due to lack of irrigation. A shame, considering that it was designed by one of the greatest players golf history, and plays host to the important Philippine Open and Richard Gomez’s Goma Cup. Its Hole 17 has golfers playing with the dazzling Manila Bay in the background.

Its facilities are rundown and infrastructures aging. But my story takes place in a different location.



The residential area of Puerto Azul takes up only one street with lots of greenery


I had my staycation at the residential part of Puerto Azul. It’s right across the golf course, and is hidden by lots of greenery. It looks undeveloped, but the houses are huge. The house we stayed at had five floors.

The owner of the house has a funny connection with my family. She is friends with my mom, worked with my uncle (whose birthday we were celebrating), and her daughter was once my classmate in high school. I think it is their summer house because they occasionally rent it out.





The house is a pleasant shade of yellow


We had the space for two days, and I was impressed by the size of the place. The house is Asian-inspired and though I am not a fan of that architectural and design movement, I still loved the house for its size and devotion to large windows, seats, bathrooms, and greenery.

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Container Homes


Adam Kalkin Old Lady House Modern Shipping Container


Lately I’ve been thinking about container homes. Basically, they’re homes made from shipping containers, the ones that are used to transport items. They are usually attached to trucks, trains, or ships. Who would have thought they could be transformed into living spaces?

Apparently, Phillip C. Clark did, in 1987, when he filed for a patent. Today, people all over the world have turned containers into homes, and they are beautiful.


2 Shipping Container Home, - Savannah Project, Price Street Projects, - Florida,  (3)

2 Shipping Container Home, - Savannah Project, Price Street Projects, - Florida,  (5)

2 Shipping Container Home, - Savannah Project, Price Street Projects, - Florida,  (2)

The Savannah Project, Architect PSP in New York and Florida 


All you need to do is get one container (or two or three, depending on your need), prop it on a piece of land, and accessorize.

The benefits of container homes are many: they are cheaper than conventional construction, and are stronger and more durable. They can carry heavy loads, can be stacked in high columns, and withstand harsh environments. They are also modular so it is easy to design them according to your whim.





Shipping container guest house by Jim Poteet


In the Philippines, used containers range around P80,000. You can buy them anywhere, especially at coastal areas. However, because of the tropical climate, container homes must be carefully insulated because steel conducts heat. But with careful planning of insulation, irrigation, and installation of sockets, a container home can be a beautiful alternative to the usual brick and mortar structure.



Container home from Designbam


I would love to own a container home when I finally decide to get my own place. I’d get one or two orange or blue containers, stacked right next to each other. I’ll add a little wooden porch in the front, with pots of flowers. I’m hoping there will be lush greenery around the home.



From Koverkrete


From 2 or 3 Things I Know


The interior would be roomy: white walls with light-brown wooden plank floors. The inside will be homey, in contrast to the industrial feel of the exterior of the house. I will have a little black couch, some nice leafy plants in pots, and a bookshelf filled with books and paintings.

I will have a wooden writing desk, and a small nook for cooking and eating.



From Pinterest


My bedroom would be equally sparse, with a white bed (linen sheets!), a tabletop for some books, and one wall lined with prints and paintings.

I’m still thinking whether I should add a TV. There will be wi-fi. And two bathrooms.

Century City Mall’s vertical garden

Last Saturday, I was at the newly-opened Century City Mall to explore what is being called the Mall of Modern Makati. We were thoroughly impressed with the luxury of everything, from its dining and shopping options to its cinemas with reclining seats. It’s a good mall to hide out in from the stresses of daily living. Since it’s hidden in Kalayaan Avenue in Makati, I can picture myself reading a good book in TWG Tea.

My favorite part of the mall has to be the al fresco dining on the fourth floor of the mall. Right now, there’s only Caliburger there (burger was meh, the strawberry milkshake was to die for), but the surroundings were amazing. According to my friend who does the PR of the mall, the fourth floor promotes natural ventilation and vegetation that filter the air and reduce local temperature.

It even has a fully interactive multimedia water spectacle, which will showcase fully programmed, choreographed music, light and water shows once daily and twice on weekends. It reminds me of Hong Kong’s Symphony of Lights along Victoria Harbour. In fact, the water show at Century City Mall was developed by the same team that developed the water fountains at the Sands Macao Hotel and The Landmark in Hong Kong.


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For me, the highlight of Century City Mall is its vertical garden. Vertical gardens are fascinating because it offers greener options for those who have limited space. Instead of putting plots of land or setting up a series of pots, why not just your plants along the walls? Brilliant.



Milan’s Bosco Verticale is set to be the world’s first vertical forest


A simple vertical garden


An archway with a vertical garden makes for a dramatic entrance


At Pershing Hall in Paris

Vertical gardens are becoming something of a trend for businesses and buildings to go green but don’t have space. Japan’s Nihon Chiko, who is in the telephone industry, has been implementing vertical gardens for decades.  Buildings in Sao Paulo, Brazil and Oslo, Norway are putting greenery inside and outside their buildings. Bosco Verticale in Milan, Italy has also put gardens on its walls.


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Century City Mall is the latest establishment to be part of this trend. Let’s hope more businesses will implement vertical gardens. It’s good for the environment and for the eyes. Concrete and glass are modern, but there’s nothing like seeing an abundance of leaves and flowers in the middle of the city to start a happy day.

2014 Book #2: Starck


We all know Philippe Starck as that guy who created the iconic Ghost chair. Its simple, transparent design was lauded as his attempt to democratize furniture and available for all, and for all I mean those who can afford to shell out $410 (or P17,000) for a single piece.


The iconic Ghost Chair


Beyond that, we have no idea what else Starck did. At least I didn’t. I always thought he was simply a furniture designer, but this book by Taschen showed that he was so much more. Starck is a collection of his major projects in a career spanning three decades. The book reveals that beyond chairs, Starck designed houses, buildings, appliances, clothes, and even vehicles!



Starck began designing consumer goods when he realized that the items of his day had no “humor, love, or fancy.” He identified the kind of things the people he would like to have as a friend to own and use. “Not necessarily beautiful objects, but good objects,” he said. Good objects he called non-products for non-consumers, or people who are “alert and wary, but also open, creative, enthusiastic, and finally extremely upstream and modern.”


A couch with a DVD player, projector, and speakers
I wish I had a teddy bear like this!
Philippe Starck-designed office supplies would motivate me to go back to work
Modern watches
A partnership with Monnaie de Paris, the L’Ultimate Franc

What results is an amazing collection of items from French coins, Olympic torches, children’s toys, and those beautiful, beautiful chairs.