Eclectic Filipino Style for a Two-Storey House in Malate, Manila

In decorating his rented property, this entrepreneur drew inspiration from his hometown in Leyte

Original Article: Tom Castaneda Photography: Miguel Nacianceno Pictorial Direction: Dagny Madamba and Issa Villar

Fifteen years ago, Joshua Formentera chanced upon an old, Spanish-style house in Malate, Manila. He was immediately drawn to the big windows that reminded him of his childhood home in Baybay, Leyte.

After Joshua moved into the two-storey property, he filled it with traditional Filipino furniture that he inherited from different family members. Since he loves to travel, he also decided to display his favorite finds, including a sculpture from Thailand, a watercolor painting from Vietnam, and antique leather-and-wood chairs from Denmark.

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


Joshua's rented two-storey house is located in Manila's historic Malate district. The modest gate and concrete wall conceal the old-world charm and quirky style of the property.

Living Area

The living area is defined by the red-and-mustard walls and the wrought iron-covered windows. A framed oil painting is placed on the main window.

Living Area

The living area is furnished with Savonarola-style antique wooden chairs and benches. Surprisingly enough, Joshua likes wooden seats because they can be uncomfortable to sit on — he believes that the discomfort can motivate him and his daughter to stay up and about!

West African Statues

The living area coffee table is topped with sculptures of two African farmers playing a game similar to sungka

Bul-ol Lamp

Joshua used this antique bul-ol figure from Banaue into a table lamp for the living area.

Reading Nook

What can you do with the space underneath the stairs? You can use it as a reading nook! This spot is furnished with an antique narra bookcase, a wooden loveseat, and a tribal bench that also serves as a coffee table.

Kitchen and Dining Area

The plain kitchen and formal dining areas are brightened up with colorful dinnerware. Most of the glassware and wine bottles are kept in an antique platera.

Informal Dining Area

Next to the formal dining room is the informal dining room that leads to the garden. The outdoor space is spruced up with an antique cabinet and ceramic tiles.


Joshua kept the old wrought-iron grilles along the staircase. He spruced up the plain space with a lively yellow hue. He also hung up a framed painting with a romantic, sensual feel

Spanish Busts

Joshua says that his mother's religious relatives collected vintage santos and rebultos. He inherited these antique busts from his grandparents

Decorative Touches

Joshua found this golden Buddha statue in Thailand and the Japanese print at a shop on Evangelista Street in Makati

Seating Area

“My grandparents loved color, even when it came to their clothes, and I inherited that appreciation for color,” says Joshua. “I painted part of the house yellow because it gives life to the home. It’s powerful, but welcoming. And it helps balance the home.”

Family Room

The most interesting piece in the second-floor family room is the generously sized daybed.

You can find similar pillows at Sifra, Glorietta 4, Makati City and a similar embroidered throw at L’Indochine in SM Aura, Taguig City.

Joshua's Bedroom

Joshua's bedroom is furnished with a four-post bed that has a grand headboard and intricately carved turnings.


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