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An Old Fashioned Pinoy Bahay Kubo In Palawan

Original Article: Rachelle Medina Photography: Ocs Alvarez Pictorial Direction: Gwyn Guanzon

Along a main road in Puerto Princesa, Palawan is a lush, almost-mystical grove of Philippine mahogany trees. Then past all that foliage, a clearing appears where—fairy-tale-like—two large thatched huts emerge. One of the huts is the famed Café Arturo, while the other, more enclosed hut, an actual bahay kubo complete with thatched roof and sawali walls, is the Banzuela home.

The Banzuela kubo is humble on the outside, but delightfully complex on the inside. For starters, unlike the traditional bahay kubo that is elevated from the ground and has a single-level living area, this one has a high ceiling with a sleeping loft for the couple (the children sleep in a two-storey house next door). A large wooden post in the center of the structure supports the thatched ceiling and roof, and intricately woven rattan joins each wooden and bamboo truss, column, and beam. 

"Experimental lahat ito," explains Christine Banzuela, restaurant owner and lady of the house (or rather, kubo). "It took so long kasi labor-intensive." From the central post radiates the living and dining areas, as well as the kitchen, all in open plan. Then I find a contemporary twist: French doors all around, which when thrown open, do not look out of place at all.

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It is a house that sits naturally in its setting, and is as unpretentious as its owners. The kubo is the ultimate throwback to when life—and living—was simpler. But Cristine has yet more plans for the area. The children's former playhouse, now a beehive where the family harvests honey from, will be cleared, and a circular garden is slowly being developed into a space for extra guests. "Mina-magic pa," is how she puts it. 

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