A Colorful And Charming Family Home In Palawan

A forgotten, mid-century provincial house is transformed into a whimsical vacation abode

Original Article: Arlene Maslog Photography: Ocs Alvarez Pictorial Direction: Carlo Vergara Styling: Gwyn Guanzon

Architect Arlene Maslog remembers the first time she stepped into her father-in-law’s 1960s bungalow in Puerto Princesa: it seemed lost in time, with the wall calendar turned to the year 1988, the paint faded and peeling, and the furniture battered. “Nonetheless, I was warmly welcomed here and introduced to the enchantment that is Palawan, and there began my life as an adopted daughter of this beautiful island province,” she reminisces.

Arlene and her husband then rolled up their sleeves and got to work on fixing the home, calling on their trusty foreman from Manila. What followed were a series of renovations, replacing termite-eaten timber, raising the ceiling height, and installing new plumbing. After that, they divested the home of previous clutter, and refurbished the remaining furniture pieces. “After three months of demolition and construction work, five garage sales, and much peso-pinching, we finally completed the project,” the architect says proudly.

The end result is an airy and colorful family home filled with up-cycled finds, children’s artwork, and beautiful memories. “Behind all the work, my husband and I want this home to reflect the simplicity of life here in Palawan, stripped of frills and unnecessary wants,” Arlene enthuses. “Life here constantly makes you think of the mere essentials. Living here part of the year uplifts and revives our spirits and bonds my family deeper.”

Living Room

A soft robin’s-egg-blue tint livens up the living room wall and updates the entire space. Most of the furnishings, such as the Ambassador set and the sofa and armchairs on casters, are refurbished pieces that came from her husband's parents and grandparents. "Nakatambak lang diyan!" exclaims Arlene.

Dining and Kitchen

The dining room set is also a hand-me-down from the old house, currently revamped with a wash of Tiffany-blue paint. The rattan bar stools on the breakfast counter in the kitchen were bought from Palawan.


Like in a school, Arlene organized her family’s shoes, bags, and hats locker-room style: hooks were installed on the wall for bags and caps, and a long bench with shoe cubbies was added where you can sit down on while putting on shoes.

Kids' Bedroom

Arlene washed the bedrooms in off-white, making the space bigger and airier. The daybed was an old brass bed, painted white for that "Shabby Chic" look. Whimsical wall lamps are from IKEA.

Master Bedroom

A beautiful four-poster bed is the focal point in the master bedroom, which Arlene left bare for a casual look. Like in a resort, Arlene added luggage racks (that look like actual luggage!) custom-made in Palawan ("For extra guests," she says).


Bandera Española blooms in the garden. Other habitués of the Maslog backyard include a couple of dogs, roosters, geese, and ducks.


"There was a lot of leftover wood, so we made this playhouse," says Arlene. They added a swing because the kids didn't have a swing back in Manila.

Read the original article ("Paradise Found") in the April 2008 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App. Log on to for more details

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