A 1930s Apartment with a Cozy, Ancestral Vibe

What’s a homeowner to do with a 200sqm apartment with a clear view of the Manila Bay? Give it a character of its own, that’s what

Original Article: Bubbles Salvador Photography: Dairy Darilag Styling: Dagny Madamba and Paula de Guzman

Homeowner: Chiqui Sy-Quia Mabanta

Type of Home: 200sqm Apartment

Style of Home: Filipino, Ancestral

Restaurateur Chiqui Sy-Quia Mabanta moved into a unit in North Syquia Apartments in 2000. The space, which her mother used to rent out to a lola (not related to her) for 40 years, was reminiscent of an ancestral house (read: wooden floors, art deco railings, and vintage furniture pieces).

When she took over, Chiqui gave the unit a major facelift, but decided to keep its “old” vibe intact. To give her new space a character of its own, she threw in some eclectic pieces from her travels and moved around some furniture. The result? A spacious unit with abundant natural light, a seaside view, and a chock-full of history—where new, old, and everything in between come together.

Read the original article ("Past-Present") in the October 2015 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App. Log on to for more details.

Living Area

During the repainting of her apartment, Chiqui saw it fit to make the place nice and new, which is why she decided to move things around. She made the living area the center of the house and the dining area closer to the windows. “You feel you’re outdoors, you can see the sea, you feel like you’re in some café,” she says of the Manila Bay view from her tall windows.

Living Area

“My favorite thing is buying throw pillows—for me, that’s what will change the look. I can keep it ethnic Moroccan red, and change it to cool light blues and greens,” says Chiqui. If you want to change the look of your living area in a snap, you can invest in new soft furnishings like pillow covers and throws, too.

Breakfast Nook

This four-seater set made by the Puyats was originally owned by Chiqui’s lola. It dates back to 1920 as part of the Sevilla Expo. Hanging from the ceiling is Tord Boontje’s modern-classic Garland Light, which she bought during one of her travels.

Dining Area

The printed fabric hanging above the console table adds a pop of color to the dining area. 


Parang old na new, parang retro,” Chiqui says of her color of choice (robin’s-egg blue) for her kitchen. Indeed, the old (original sink from the 1930s and her lola’s enamel pots) and the new (the bar she built after a portion of the wall was knocked down) converge in this space.

Guest Room

Chiqui’s guest room also doubles as a space to display her book and art collection.

Reading Nook

The abundance of natural light plus this Poang chair with matching footrest help create a perfect reading or lounging spot. 

Work Area

"I love my desk here, with the daylight. I really wanted a room that's light and bright," says Chiqui of her work area. The desk is likely from the 1930s to 40s.

Vintage Touch

In keeping with the “old” look of her apartment, one of the first pieces Chiqui brought in is this antique dresser.

Room Detail

Chiqui shares that the Australian blinds are the most expensive things in this room. It’s a worthy purchase as these are helpful during certain times of the day.


Latest Stories

We Found The Smallest and Most Affordable Hydroponics Planter

Plus, it has a built-in aquarium, too! And it's available locally.

These Photos Will Make You Want A Golden Christmas This Year

Time to make your house sparkle for the holidays!

21 Awesome Budget Home Finds In Quiapo

We swear, the P50 dinnerware and P10 cleaning products are worth the trip!

Christmas Gift Ideas For Plant Lovers and Green Thumbs

A list of lovely plants and accessories from below P100, P500, and up!

5 Creative and Affordable Wrapping Ideas For Christmas

Are you excited for the holiday season, too?

6 Fantastic Small Space Makeovers

How can you deal with cramped cooking corners and tiny bedrooms? Let these transformations teach you a trick or two.

A Filipino Designed This Space-Savvy Modern House in Singapore

It even has its own lap pool!

Would You Try "Death Cleaning?"

We've got everything you need to know about this new Swedish decluttering trend

5 Secrets Of A Functional Kitchen

Are you dreaming of having the most efficient scullery? These tips might just do the trick.

11 Peg-Worthy Celebrity Christmas Trees

From showcasing dainty blooms to using quirky ornaments, these personalities have taken the decorating game to the next level

This Quiapo Day Tour Will Make You Love Old Manila Again

Go on a DIY Quiapo adventure and look beyond the vendors. Say a prayer, have your fortune told, take a peek at a mysterious pagoda, and visit beautiful ancestral houses from a more genteel past.

10 Ways To Make Your Shoes Last Forever

Show your favorite pairs some tender loving care with these tips
Load More Stories

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