Sunday, January 22, 2012


In Tagaytay, I always feel I can almost reach the sky.

Last week, our MGP team hurried off to this captivating city south of Manila, for an ad campaign shoot of one of the in-house brands of the largest retailer in the Philippines. It was a fine day, although the sky was slightly overcast and the breeze was blowing chilly when I opened my car's windows. On a winding road that leads to the fishing town of Talisay, we headed to this quiet and unassuming house with beautiful whitewashed walls with an other-worldly appeal, a dome-shaped structure and a small earthen jar that stood at the entrance bearing the name METEORA.

One of the more noteworthy houses in Tagaytay City, METEORA is a unique private bed and breakfast, 2-bedroom house with multiple view decks ensconced on a cliff with an unimpeded view of Taal Lake & Taal Volcano, Mounts Makiling and Banahaw, and the surrounding countryside. I learned that it was built a decade ago by St. Luke’s Medical Center director Dr. Joven Cuanang as a vacation retreat, with METEORA getting its inspiration from a Byzantine monastery in Athens, Greece.

SKY'S THE LIMIT. The forever changing and endless skies plus a scenic view of the double caldera of Taal provides the backdrop of the already-breathtaking Meteora.

OVER THE TOP. Meteora is actually a Greek word that means suspended in air.

PILLARS OF BEAUTY. These white columns are very Greek-inspired.

THE BIG DOME. Doesn't this remind you of the immaculate structures in Santorini?

REACH FOR THE SKY. Find your solitary place underneath the cloudy skies.

STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN. Whitewashed stone steps and an opened gate feel almost like leading up towards heaven's door.

ROOM WITH A VIEW. I must be dreaming of the ultimate holiday!

For a first-time visitor, I instantly fell in love with  METEORA with its minimalist architectural design that fuses Greek and Ilocano styles. The stark white cement finish, domes and columns are reminescent of the Isle of Santorini in Greece. On the other hand, the Ilocano inspiration comes with the use of wooden windows, doors, some flooring from old Ilocos ancestral houses, hand-embroidered Abel Iloko pillowcases, and stone steps that were sourced from San Esteban in Ilocos.

ANCESTRAL DOMAIN. This very Ilocano, antique wooden door with ornamental carvings take us back in colonial Pinoy times.

STEPPING STONE. Move up and down the stone steps which were sourced from San Esteban.

WINDOW TO THE SOUL. The carved wooden window (upper left) demonstrates old, ancestral Vigan charm.

NEUTRAL BASE. Stone steps and flooring look very earthy and natural.

MIRROR ON THE WALL. Antique wooden frame and fixtures highlight this bedroom while I take a reflective picture of myself.

There are only few furniture in the house, but sculptures serve as accents on its plain white walls, mostly done by artist Salvador Alonday. According to METEORA's website, a graceful Mater Dolorosa, has exquisite craquelure; while a life-size Sabel, stands guard by the deck, the only one of its kind being the only one authorized by National Artist Ben Cabrera.

FEELIN' COLD. A life-sized Sabel monument greets guests upon entering the deck.

BREAST EXPOSURE. This sculpture with exquisite craquelure must validate the statement that breastfeeding is still best for babies.

ART OF ANATOMY. An eye-catching impression of the human physique stands by the fire place.

ANONYMITY. A veiled sculpture of a mysterious woman adds drama to this blank wall.

BIRTH STONE. This table piece with a fetus in between a female body cut into half is just mind-boggling.

SACRED ART. An antique wooden religious icon hangs on the immaculate wall.

FLIGHT OF ANGELS. A painted mural of divine winged figures looks heavenly by the ceiling.

LIGHTROOM. I just love how the light enters this room accented with throwpillows and wooden figures.

EAT, DRINK & BE MERRY. An attractive mural hangs by the dining hall.

Moreover, tinges of color blue echoed throughout the decorative items in the living room. Cobalt-blue stoneware plates and bowls by artist Lanelle Abueva added a contrast on its white-on-white kitchen walls. Ilocos furnishing blended well with memorabilia from travels to Greece, Turkey and Morocco.

A CHARMED LIFE. There's a fireplace in the living room, accented with deep-blue vases and decorative pieces.

BLUE STREAK. Decorative plates and bowls by an artist liven up the kitchen walls.

JARRED. This lovely ceramic vase cannot be ignored.

WASHED OUT. Earthen clay pots make wonderful adornments, too.

TIMES TWO. These wooden ethnic carvings are worthy of a second look.

The outer landscape features white columns and cement and stone tables seemingly carved out of rock; petrified wood serve as chairs and accent pieces. A flight of steep stairs lead down to the property where the annex is located, which has a small room that can fit at least two people. All around bougainvillea, yellow hibiscus and agave plants add color and charm to an otherwise stark surroundings.

OPEN SESAME. These doors at the entrace that are made of petrified wood give rustic appeal.

WOODSTOCK. A chair made out of petrified wood adds contrast to the cemented surroundings.

WINDSTRUCK. The outside foyer is surrounded by lush greens and a panoramic view of the countryside.

CORNERSTONE. This outside corner with stone tablets and stone table looks like a religious altar.

EDGE OF LIGHT. This attractive pavement leads to a not-so-secret garden.

METEOR GARDEN. A picturesque garden with an uphill view.

BREAKFAST FOR TWO. I would definitely love to sit here with my partner while enjoying a hot cup of coffee with the fresh morning breeze blowing on our faces.

THE GUARDIAN. An interesting bulul figure sits on top of a wooden fixture in one of the outside portions of the house.

NATURAL WONDERS. Flowers, like these bougainvillea, bloom around the garden.

CACTUS RIDGE. Agave plants serve as outside accents, too.

THORNED. A succulent plant is displayed on the center table.

That day, my partner George Palmiano also celebrated his birthday. It would mean no party for him, but he loves his work too much that he didn't mind getting his ass filthy on his very special day. However, super dear fashionable friends drove from Manila all the way to Tagaytay to visit and greet a surprised Geo, and brought him his favorite cakes, ice cream and snacks - therefore an instant party celebration! Thanks Mader Luis Espiritu, Mader Ayen Florendo, Louis Claparols and Jo Ann Bitagcol for making Geo's day very memorable, as well as to the whole LTBG team (esp. Rina Lacia-Bugayong & Jane Cometa-Segundo), Adfolio (esp. Lora Gabuna-Antenor) and everybody in the pictorial team (Pat Dy, Bobby Carlos, John Valle, models etc.).

BIRTHDAY SONG. My partner George Palmiano gets his birthday surprise - with Adfolio's Lora Gabuna-Antenor, photographer Pat Dy and LTBG's Jane Segundo. (Photo by Louis Claparols)

HOW SWEET! Geo's favorite cakes, ice creams and snacks brought by Luis, Ayen, Louis & Jo Ann. (Photo by Louis Claparols)

PARTY OF FIVE. Me, Geo, Chief makeup artist Bobby Carlos of Max Factor, fashion guru Mader Luis Espiritu and our favorite hairstylist John Valle. (Photo by Louis Claparols)

PHOTO FINISH. Photographer Pat Dy versus photographer Jo Ann Bitagcol. (Photo by Louis Claparols)

HAVING CAKES. Pat Dy, Luis Espritu and Ayen Florendo of MFMC.

EVERYBODY HAPPY. Thanks to these wonderful people who surprised Geo! (Photo by Louis Claparols)

ALL TOGETHER. Geo with his cake, moi, beloved friends & co-workers.

CHOCO LOCO. Happy birthday again, Geo! Thanks for all the loving and caring, and being the best partner I could ever have! Priceless!

I'll be posting behind-the-scenes photos next time, as well as ad campaign photos when those come out this summer. Can't wait!

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