designing a dream home

a home is a social womb, starting one’s life to grow . this morning, i brought out the plans for our dream home. an indigenous homes advocate – architect ning encarnacion-tan designed it with us last july 16,2007. we have set a date next week to finalize the house design. ed and i, ning and juju will build joint conjugal homes in san mateo, some 15 minutes from diliman,quezon city. when gilda cordero-fernando was told of our communal housing dream project where the co-owners are two couples, a single mother and two teen girls, she was a bit anxious that it may spell difficulties. she said that three families living together in one compound may not work out because houses have their own drama. she warned us that people may think we are having orgies. we all smiled and let the dream grow for three years. we want to build this year since we have bought the land together. our third partner rea will join us in due time.

the design elements for us are stories in progress. each level is called a story. the two homes will have three stories. we agreed on an open silong for the ground level so that our spaces will weave around two themes : a garden that ning and juju will cultivate and a kitchen for events where meals are cooked and shared. i got a story about social space from minda groeneveld , a pinay friend who worked in Africa . she said that Africans place the stove at the center of their homes because it is where people hold their social events. many of our old homes had the kitchen outside of the houses, called dirty kitchen. in new dining places, the chef cooks in front of the guests, and the process brings aroma and colour to the conversation.

the second stories will hold our family spaces. ning and juju will have their bahay kubo while ed and i will have our portfolio space for love, writing and studying. ed and i do artwork, so we need a lot of light, like the sun that amorsolo celebrates in his paintings. the artworks and the books that we own will weave around our walls, like synapses inside our bodies. we will wire the house so that we can bring our laptaps everywhere.

the third story will be for laraine, our 17 year old daugther. she wanted a space for her generation and asked for a vanity room where she can transform herself. it will be a chrysalis space for dreaming, ipod casting and having fun.

how much do we think it will cost? the going rate now is from P15,000 to P20,000 per square meter. if we build a hundred and eighty square meters in three stories, it will cost P2.7 million to P3.6 million pesos. that will mean that ed and I have to earn three million pesos this year if we start storytelling. so how can we earn three million? both of us are in social sectors where many of our work is pro bono. when ed goes overseas, half of his work is still pro bono. now we have to scan the horizons for consultancies that pay enough for at least two years equivalent to our modest domestic earnings. we have two book projects, a joint art exhibit and several competencies in education. how much are its earning value? am not sure how to generate three million pesos but we can earn a million if we engage international development partners. mag-overseas workers tayo, says ed. but short-time lang, sabi ko.

what we need is to engage social sector funders that our education portfolios can handle strategic programs. we can do something about the 11 million children out of school and the 15 million adults who need to be functionally literate. our achievements in the 90’s and 2000s will be our tickets to a journey of learning and earning well. ed is turning 65 and i just turned 57 so we have a few silver linings. ning said that when people start building, they also earn enough to meet the costs.we hope we strike some precious gems and get our dream home built before we become octogenarians.

our houses and gardens will invite people for conversations and reflections. as of this stage, our dream plans are ideas for stories. we will get our family and friends to bless our space with their own story ideas. our homes will be born when dreams dance in this social womb. peace and joy to us all.


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3 Comments on “designing a dream home”

  1. Mila Maramot Says:

    Your dream home of about 1,938 sq. ft at $90,000 (P40:$1) is a very good deal. The average sales price of a home that size is between $700,000 to $800,000 here in the LA area. While it’s true it costs less if you build it yourself, still that’s quite a bit of difference. Go for it!

  2. Vincent Doronila Says:


    I am a friend of Ning Tan. She designed the interiors for the house of my parents (Atty. Cirilo & Malou Doronila). I am currently studying overseas (MSc in Sustainable Building) and would want to do some research on her work, especially on bamboo houses. Would you be able to give me her e-mail address? It would be most helpful. Sorry for taking up your time. Thank you.


    Vincent Doronila

    p.s. my e-mail is

  3. mvillariba Says:

    salamat vincent. will give your email message to ning who we are meeting soon. i dont have her email address right now.

    we knew your mother, malu doronila. we are grateful to her. she taught us well in developing learning systems. we miss her and hope many educators will follow her path. she was the quintessential educationist.

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