HIDDEN in the rustic backdrop of Sta. Rita town is a posh dwelling fit for a king. Inspired by the Filipino rural architecture and urban taste, this home is a haven to a cultural mover and a venue for a growing festival that pays homage to rural life.

Bale Ng Juan, owned by a Miss Saigon officer, sits as a solitary island in a vast rice farm owned by Miss Saigon Choreographer Andy Alviz. The house was constructed as a “retirement” home for Andy’s boss who fell in love with the rustic ambiance of Sta. Rita. The house was constructed near Andy’s farm house and took some two years to complete. The house, which, most of the time is unoccupied by the owner, is under the care of Alviz.

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The house is hidden from the urban development of the town and could only be accessed through a private road that snakes through rows and rows of rice paddies. Both in architecture and its interior design, the house is a blend of western and eastern ensemble of colors and textures.

There was no official architect. The house was conceived through brainstorming and construction was personally supervised by Alviz.

“We drew designs from inspiration, from travels and from what we see would fit into the design. The interior is a mix of local and foreign designs. We drew a lot from local architecture and tried to make the house as Filipino as possible without setting aside standards,” Alviz said.

The façade of the house is Mediterranean to almost Balinese. The eclectic array of the roof gives an impression that the house is floating amid its backdrop. The interior is grandiose with a gigantic orb capiz chandelier that looms as a focal point for the receiving area.

Tables, cabinets, and chairs of hardwood and antiques of various providences dot various areas of the house. The master’s bedroom also features some local crafts and invites long slumber with its royal fixtures. The receiving area explodes into the dining room surrounded by hardwood panels. The lanai, on the other hand, provides a clear view of the farm and the neighborhood that surrounds it.

The house is also home to many artworks of local painters. It is one of two houses here that displays works of trailblazing artist Ron Salazar. Few people are allowed inside the house, but with a little networking, Andy may allow small groups to visit every once in a while. The house has been a part of many food trip tours of Manila based groups. The house is also open to the public during the Rice Planting Festival (during June or July) that is held around the farm lands surrounding the house.

Take time to visit this hidden retreat and taste the rustic ambiance of rural living.

For comments, suggestions, violent reactions, invites, indignant rebuttals and what-have-you. email: ianocampoflora@yahoo.com(09155497904).