June 24, 2017, 8:12 am
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Hotel Antipolo

An overdose of nature can result in uncontrolled calmness.

That’s why we chose to live in Antipolo. One day, while visiting a friend’s vacation house, an architect brought us around this beautiful subdivision that was also a bird sanctuary. Well, it still is. Everywhere we looked, we saw trees and thriving foliage – lush, towering eucalyptus trees that lined the wide streets and swayed gracefully in the wind. It was like being in another world. Later on, our guests would say the same thing. 

It was love at first sight. We stood on the ridge of this lot that sloped gently into a backyard of big rocks, plants and thick bushes. It was like an anonymous gardener had gotten there ahead of us, and thoughtfully prepared it for our coming. 

We immediately fell in love with the breathtaking view -- an unobstructed, panoramic view spanning Laguna de Bay on the left, all the way to Commonwealth, Quezon City on the far right. In the middle of this cityscape, you can see the buildings and skylines of Paranaque, Makati, and Ortigas. Much nearer would be the rooftops of Marikina and unknown valleys below us. 

The scenery from our east and west balconies is a feast for the eyes. We never get tired of it. Most days, my husband has his breakfast on the balcony. Everything outside is a calm, peaceful mix of different shades of green and brown, blue and white. Towards sunset, the skies slowly turns a fiery orange with pale tints of pink and lavender. These colors disappear in a matter of minutes. You have to be quick to catch them. 

I don’t think even Monet, one of my favorites since high school, would do a passable job of capturing this view on canvas. Just think – this God-crafted, living, changing painting right outside our balcony is there for us to look at, anytime we have enough sense to stop and enjoy it. If some people “stop to smell the flowers,” our family “stops to enjoy the view!” 

We were in our early 30s when we built our house in Antipolo. We were living then in a four-year-old house that we had built in Quezon City for our growing family of six. Our son was studying in Ateneo Grade School, while our girls were going to a Montessori nursery in Xavierville. We were happy in our new house, but when we saw this beautiful, serene, subdivision in the hills of Antipolo, we just could not forget the view. So we decided to buy this lot on a ridge with a panoramic view of Metro Manila. 

Before the house was designed, we told our architect that ALL the rooms must have big, wall-to-wall windows that would open up to the view. We also asked for balconies flanking both sides of the house – one right in front of our masters bedroom so that we could walk out of our room to look at the view anytime, day or night. And the other balcony would be near our main sala and dining room – so that our guests would see this fantastic view the minute they entered our home. 

And it worked – I’ve noticed that right after the hellos are done with, our guests would immediately rush to the balcony, as if a giant magnet drew them there. They were instantly mesmerized by the view.

They’d survey the whole horizon, take in long, deep breaths of fresh air, and heave sighs of awe and wonder. Almost everyone who sees it is overwhelmed by this vast expanse of sky and foliage – including the men who delivered our furniture and appliances, the cable guy, the telephone man, the man who installed our grilles, and even the ambulance doctor and medical team from St. Luke’s Global who came for my mom. All of them, without exception, stayed for some time on our balcony, calmly sipping their coffee or juice, looking for more excuses to stay longer and enjoy the view. Many times, it takes our guests 30 minutes to an hour – just saying their good byes. 

To me, it’s the calming affect of this God-crafted view that makes our house priceless. I imagine it as a 24/7 painting that lives and breathes and changes right in front of our eyes each day, each season, through the storms, the April showers, the searing summers of our lives. 

That’s why our children, all grown up and married now, often want to go back to “Hotel Antipolo,” as they affectionately call our home – the home where they played basketball in the rain, in our home court below. The home where they saw fireflies in our bedrooms, heard crickets chirping at night, and where frogs sent them screaming and running out of their bathrooms at odd times of the day. The home where they played touch ball and ping pong and hide-and-seek in the second floor sala. The home with big capiz windows, old rocking chairs, Lola’s baul and the big aparador where we keep our towels and bedsheets. Our own version of the Filipino “bahay na bato.” The home of their childhood and young adult years. 

Indeed. No matter what chaos, tragedies, and turmoil life brings, it’s always good to have a quiet, nurturing place to go home to, far from the madding crowd. A place where you can find peace and healing for your soul. 

Nature is always a good place to start.
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