Cabin Fever

Destiny, or so it seemed, is how this massive wooden house on a hill came together. Almost by pure chance—according to the homeowners—the buying, the water sourcing, even getting their architect, all felt like a series of  fortunate events. Though their original house in the city had so many advantages, there is nothing like realizing a dream home, and to this day, the homeowners and their children have no regret of moving up to the heights of Busay hills.


A good forty-five meters of ragged terrain were sliced off the hilltop to provide a flat area where this 1,000 square meter, six bedroom, six bathroom house now stands on its promontory, 300 meters above sea level.  The homeowners’ love for natural materials triggered the use of wood all throughout construction. Narra, magkuno, tugas, and pine were brought in from Dipolog, Surigao, Cagayan de Oro, and even as far as Papua New Guinea.

On a fateful social event, Architect Tessie Javier also offered her services, feeling challenged by the unique idea of having this log cabin aesthetic in Cebu, and wanted to help them maximize the potential of their design. By fusing nature with technology in a simple tasteful style, the architect extended the rooms from their original sizes; framed the breath-taking surrounding scenery with nearly foot-to-ceiling corner windows; and took full advantage of the already existing spaces by installing gigantic all-natural two-storey magkuno wood pillars all around the house. This is also the architect’s favourite feature, “the first and probably the last I would do in Cebu. It is very unique in Cebu home design,” she says. “Every time I visit I am still awed by these columns.” The architect and homeowners also rave about the towering solid narra main door, made from one huge piece of plank wood almost five centimeters thick, opening into a huge open encompassing the living room  and the dining area flooded with natural light from the expansive glass windows specially cut by Kenneth and Mock’s plant in Manila.

The whole family was heavily involved from the concept to the completion of this dream home. The four children designed their rooms together with the architect. The result are expansive walk-in closets with gigantic mirrors, narra “floating” beds, space saving German-technology sliding screen doors also by Kenneth and Mock, accented by furniture pieces from Kenneth Cobonpue and Vito Selma.  In a separate section, the two boys share a huge room with a bath room that open with glass doors on three sides, and a rain shower that falls on river stones.

To make part of the exterior walls they simply veneered the on-site rock that was excavated, and integrated several pre-war wood planks for the dining area ceiling. Designed and made by the man of the house himself were several outdoor seating sets, and his favorite is a huge magkuno tree root that he turned into an outdoor table. The house is very far from the city, but it is closest to nature with its countless organic and natural facets. This is also generally one home without much fuss. The utilities closets were integrated into the walls through secret push-open closets. Most of the furniture is also new, including architect’s picks of a shell Carlos Lanuza bedroom lamp, Vito Selma dining chairs set against a family-designed lazy-susan from a sawn-off magkuno tree trunk, and the woman of the house’s favorite item, a Maitland-Smith sitting frog tissue dispenser.

Architect Tessie Javier is happy with the outcome of this home, and she hopes that this will become a benchmark for unique residential design in Cebu. Surely wood is difficult to manipulate, the hilly terrain a real challenge to develop, and even sourcing the water at such a raised area presented many hurdles, but these were collective struggles that produced a sweeter, dearer yield. “I feel good that the home owners are happy with my participation,” added Architect Javier. “The house gives me the same pride it gives the owners.” And the family also admitted that the completion of this home has made them feel closer as they all want to spend more time at home. Their lifestyle is more relaxed as the elevated property also promises security and privacy. “Thinking about it makes me feel really blessed,” exclaimed the gracious woman of the house—it’s like just as they say, the higher the “hill” the closer to God.

by IAN E. BAOL photographer GENESIS RANA

Zee Lifestyle
Zee Lifestyle

Zee Lifestyle strives to capture the pulse of Cebu! As a city-centric lifestyle magazine, it aims to inform and entertain with features on culture, personalities, travel, food, fashion and everything in between. Follow Zee Lifestyle on Instagram at @zeelifestyle.

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