Filipino Living in a Modern Bahay Kubo

Within the UP Los Banos campus is a 63-year-old bamboo house for a big family.

Original Article: Katherine Lopez Photography: Miguel Nacianceno Pictorial Direction: Issa Villar

Through the years, the bahay kubo or nipa hut has become a symbol of Philippine culture and traditions. It is also an ideal choice for homeowners because it is warm, inviting, and reminds one of the simpler days gone by. These are the things that the Calma-Lazaros love best about their own bamboo house.

Isolina Calma decided to build the bamboo house on an 800sqm lot inside the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) campus in 1951. Isolina’s creativity and hard work resulted in a comfortable home that she lived in with her husband and UPLB professor Dr. Valeriano Calma and their eight children. One of their children, Josephine, now lives in this home. Apart from Josephine’s 20 grandchildren, guests of the University and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) also visit the space often.

Original article by Katherine Lopez. Pictorial direction by Issa Villar. Photographed by Miguel Nacianceno. 

Read “Tales of a Bamboo House” in the July 2011 issue of Real Living Magazine. To download a digital copy of Real Living Magazine, visit Summit Newsstand at


From outside the gate, the abundance of flora is a welcoming sight. Lush greens abound in the lanai, ushering guests in.

Outdoor Living Area

Another living area is furnished with a wicker armchair, sofa, and glass-topped coffee table. Wicker is woven fiber used to make light yet sturdy furniture pieces. Because of its rustic and organic look, this material can be used in a traditional Filipino home.

Formal Living Area

While this living area is found indoors, the space feels like it is connected to nature because of a picture window that provides a great view of the garden. It is furnished with old gallinera chairs made with polished wood that lends warmth to the space. Floors, ceilings and other details are made with kawayan tinik or Bambusa blumeana Schultes, a type of spiny bamboo native to the Philippines.

Informal Living Area

The house has multiple living areas so that the family can entertain guests.


Hanging by the antique piano is a portrait of Isolina, the grand old lady of the bamboo house. To ward off termites, Isolina believed that bamboo should not be cut during months with names that end with the letter “o”, namely Enero, Pebrero, Marso, Mayo, Hunyo, Hulyo, and Agosto. According to her, bamboo could only be cut from September to December and preserved by soaking in Laguna de Bay. Although Isolina was very particular about when to get and how to treat the bamboo, Josephine explains that this type of wood is fairly easy to clean and maintain – all you need is a damp rag and a bit of liquid floor wax.

Dining Area

In the dining area, the walls are made from sawali or oven split bamboo mats. An accent wall that looks like it is covered with bubbles is made from leftover bamboo. Framed photos of the Calma and Lazaro families are proudly displayed atop polished buffet consoles.


On one corner of the dining area is a glass cabinet filled with coffee sets, tea cups, and trays. These pieces reflect the family’s love for entertaining.


Since Josephine’s mother was fond of gardening and her son CV is the former president of the Philippine Orchids Society, the family simply had to have verdant surroundings. The house is surrounded with ferns, bromeliads, bougainvillea, and tropical plants.


Latest Stories

How I Moved Out of the Family Home and Survived Living Alone

A young photojournalist shares the triumphs and struggles of living independently

This House in Pasig Has Been Under Renovation For Years

Architect Pierre Briones transformed a dated property into a stunning home filled with wooden touches, designer pieces, and handpicked accessories

This TV Show Does Home Makeovers In 15 Hours

And some of the decorators (and one judge!) are Pinoy. Check out this amazing makeover show.

This Museum In a Bahay Na Bato Is a Lesson In Pinoy History

In photos: The Destileria Limtuaco Museum in Intramuros will delight your mind and eye, not only your tastebuds

This Elevated Walkway In Ortigas Makes Pasig A More Walkable City

The walkway is one of a series of new pedestrian areas rising in Ortigas Center

How Do You Divide Conjugal Property When You Get Annulled?

It's not as simple as 50/50.

4 Questions To Ask Your Interior Designer

Develop a healthy relationship with your design professional for a beautiful home

Designer Pieces We Love in Derek Ramsay’s House in Alabang

The actor doesn’t shy away from investing in pieces that make his home distinct and personal

6 Ways To Increase Storage At Home

From custom-designed pieces to minimalist shelves, explore clever ideas to amp up your storage potential

Here's How To Keep Your Clothes Wrinkle-Free When Traveling

Get perfect OOTD's with this handy (and travel-friendly) gadget!

Neutral Colors Make This 50sqm Condo Unit Extra Homey

Taking inspiration from an accent wall, interior designers Honey Mutia Cervantes and Rosa Manduriao were able to achieve a modern yet comfy look for a one-bedroom vacation home in the city

5 Plants That Can Repel Mosquitoes

Keep your home safe and these pesky pests away with these natural solutions
Load More Stories

Get inspiring design ideas and handy hints.
Subscribe to our newsletter now!