The urban haze becomes an overwhelming experience, as one comes from the chaos of downtown Manila and its traffic, and then traveling through the cornucopia of bars, restaurants and clubs along Tomas Morato avenue. Yet in a few meters walk from the hustle and bustle, you enter a quaint yellow house that transports you to another time and place.
Casa Amarillo (the Yellow House), as my wife dubbed it, is our ancestral home and residence. Built by my grandparents in the war era, it is a colonial house called the Bahay-Na-Bato (house of stone), with an American touch; which breathes the loving spirit of the Olivares clan who grew up in these walls. With its deeply ingrained history, it become more apparent as the past, present and future intermingle with an eclectic mix of artworks, antique furniture and ancient artifacts that are complimented by the modern appliances.
The house is also a natural haven, enclosed and shaded by three loving trees (two of which are fruit bearing) and flanked by lush freely growing gardens in the front and back yards. Going in the house, the city’s noise disappears and one tends to forget the cacophonic squatter’s colony right beside it.
Slowly, visitors are ushered into the backyard, where at the center, they are welcomed by an odd table made of roughly hewn ironwood, placed on top an antique Singer sewing machine stand. The chairs are the typical plastic lawn chairs, called mono-blocks; but they seem to blend into this naturally cozy environment.
Once seated, guests enter a vortex where time doesn’t seem to exist, as an intoxicating mix of loving spirits in great conversation, refreshing homemade tanlad (lemongrass) iced tea, invigorating organic barako (Batangas coffee), and playful cats ease yourself into you chair and join in the gentle revelry.
Sometimes a faint tune of some ancient song floats in the air, or a friendly glass of red wine is passed around. Maybe a fellow visitor may suddenly get up and dance or recite poetry; another may whip out a camera as they would try to capture the experience of the place. All the more one is drawn to this place, a certain peace descends that they don’t want to end; until the host calls it a night or the realization that the sun has come out.
That is the typical experience of people who have come to visit or home and share their lives with us. We too are in awe of what transpires between the walls and trees of this home, as beautiful people knock on our old rust gate and connect with us in a journey of discovery and affirmations. Won’t you come and join us?