Tips and Guides

Pinoy Decor Dictionary

Get acquainted with vernacular terms and school yourself in local design culture

Photography: Dairy Darilag (Main Photo)

If you’ve ever trolled the Manila FAME hashtags or have had a soft spot for your family’s ancestral home in the province, you know that Filipino design does possess unique, subtle and sophisticated qualities.

Whether you’d like to infuse your home with some sorely lacking local flavor, or want to go full throttle and recreate a Spanish colonial sala in your own home (Casa Manila style), it’s important to familiarize yourself with the different elements that all add to the country’s design backbone.

Abaca. Also known as Manila hemp, this plant is a local banana species. Its fibers have earned it its solid reputation. Used in everything from paper to rope, its weaves have been making waves locally and in the export scene for many decades.

Almario. Most likely a derivative of armario, the Spanish word meaning “wardrobe” or “cupboard,” an almario is used to store pillows and throws.

Aparador. Closet. It is the piece of furniture dedicated to holding your clothes.

Banig. Woven mat, used for sleeping and / or sitting down. Unlike picnic blankets or beach towels, the banig is not fashioned out of fabric or textiles.

Banggerahan. The part of a traditional home that is situated by a kitchen window. It is where all the washed plates, glasses and utensils are laid for drying.

Bodega. The basement of the house, usually used for storage.

Butaca. Also called the “sillion,” this is a type of chair that is used for lounging. The chair has particularly long arms that one can put his or her feet up on.

Bulul. Carved figures that are said to guard rice crops in the Ifugao and northern provinces.

Capiz. Mollusc shells particular to the Philippines that possess an iridescent, smooth and translucent finish. In traditional houses, they adorn windows, allowing natural light to filter through.

Dulang. A low coffee table, typically wide in span.

Gallinera. A wooden bench with storage below the seat, originally meant to place one’s roosters in.

Habi. The art of weaving.

Mariposa. A bench possessing the shape of a butterfly.

Paminggalan. A wooden cupboard for storing plates, glasses, and other kitchenware.

Rattan. A species of palm that is typically used for furniture and handicrafts. Rattan furniture had its heyday in the late 1970s and early 1980s in the local design scene.

Ropero. A laundry hamper.

Solihiya. A popular weave pattern often used in rattan furniture such as rocking chairs, beds, and lounges.

PHOTOS: Miguel Nacianceno (1, 4, and 5) | Dairy Darilag.

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