Quantcast
Latest Stories

Pride of Place

Cebu’s Pink House transforms into French cultural center

By

FILIPINO “Spanish” arches and tile media aguas over the windows were added as the house was expanded.

For as long as I can remember, at the foot of the only hill at Cebu’s Gorordo Avenue stood an exceptional Art Deco-style house that was the only one of its kind.  So outstanding it was that it was considered (by those who knew its value) as among the unofficial landmarks of the city.

Situated on a slight rise above one of Cebu’s prime residential streets, the façade of the house is angular and boxy, its sleek and taut exterior walls once continued to rise past roof level, reinforcing the strict geometry of the architecture.

Built in 1939 when the Art Deco-style that originated in France was at the height of its global popularity, the house that faithfully follows the strict geometry of the style looks like it belongs more on a bluff overlooking the blue Mediterranean in a fashionable French Riviera coastal town than where it stands on the slight rise above one of Cebu’s most elegant residential avenues.

The Jose and Juanita Velez house must have raised a few eyebrows in its day for being so unlike any other house in the city.

For six decades, generation after generation of their family lived in the house until it outlived its purpose and Gorordo Avenue downgraded from an elegant residential street to the usual urban clutter of unregulated “development” that brings with it the same ugliness that dominates all Philippine cities today.

The house went empty.  The family moved out, hanging a “For Rent” sign that stayed on the fence, would you believe, for a decade until the Alliance Française de Cebu decided  the house was perfect for its school.

ORIGINAL chandeliers continue to light bedrooms that have been repurposed as spacious classrooms.

So, early this year, the house that looked like it really belonged on the French Riviera instead of Cebu reverted to being the center for everything French in Cebu.  It became La Maison Rose, the Pink House.

Perfect fit

Its second life as the Alliance Française de Cebu fits the house perfectly.

The suite of upstairs bedrooms, now repurposed as offices and classrooms, retain all of their original high-ceilinged tropical elegance while working functionally and efficiently as language classrooms.

Old wooden doors and floors recapture  their heritage ambiance.  Repolished to new brilliance, original wall and ceiling moldings have been highlighted; whiteboards and audio-visual equipment installed in classrooms, with original chandeliers left in place to light modern classrooms.

The sophistication of the Art Deco era of the 1930s remains in what once were family bedrooms despite their radical change in function into classrooms, an outstanding example of architecture re-use.

On the ground floor is the eponymous restaurant  La Maison Rose.  Entering it for the first time is stepping into another world, an experience similar to unexpectedly slipping into the deep hole that dropped Alice from the routine of her everyday world, taking her deep into the twisted reality of Wonderland.

The quirky reality of La Maison Rose catches by surprise.  Its interior is shabby chic gone funky, a tongue-in-cheek setting of Shanghai in the 1930s individualistically envisioned by its decorator, French painter and furniture maker Delphine de Lorme, a Cebu resident.

FUNKY European-style commode lights up the landing of a traditional Filipino two colored hardwood stair.

For the particular design genre De Lorme works in, her personal vision of Shanghai and French-colonial Hanoi is fancifully well presented, a “fun-filled spirit of Pop Art, creating an eclectic and playful” interior environment for the restaurant.

Soul of the house

“Parisian painter and designer, Delphine de Lorme,” says the Alliance Française,  “was commissioned to renovate and design the house. The entire renovation focused on keeping intact the ‘soul’ of the house and to accentuate its 1930s ambiance. The idea was never to remodel the house but to return it to its original.”

Returning the house to its original was almost achieved, except for the questionable punching of a moon-shaped opening leading to the open terrace from the restaurant.

Questionable, too, is the removal of the ground-floor ceiling above the restaurant, exposing the wooden floor joists that frame the floor above, probably to add to the funk factor of the interior.

However, the changes are minor and can be easily rectified when time comes to return the house to its original condition.

What comes through loud and clear about La Maison Rose is that the Alliance Française de Cebu is a place that breaks through all expected stereotypes; and the Cebu school is probably one of the most unique in the global chain of Alliance Française schools.

It is a fun place to be in, whether to learn French or to learn about France through its excellent French cuisine served at La Maison Rose—definitely the place to go to these days to for locals and Cebu visitors alike.

E-mail the author at pride.place @gmail.com


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Art , Cebu , Culture , France , Lifestyle , Pink House



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  2. Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  3. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  4. This is not just a farm
  5. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  6. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  7. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  8. Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  9. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  10. Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  1. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  2. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  3. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  4. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  5. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  6. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  7. Ever heard of HydroBob?
  8. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  9. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week?
  10. Boots Anson-Roa to wed in Eddie Baddeo
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?

News

  • Russia promises support to ending Ukraine crisis
  • Busted valve delays water interruption
  • Cardinal Tagle decries human ‘commercialization’
  • Religion builds bridges in ethnically split Cyprus
  • Iran general urges Tehran to make new UN pick
  • Sports

  • Vettel hoping for resurgence at Chinese GP
  • MLB pitcher donates $100,000 for Sewol ferry victims
  • Hamilton takes pole at Chinese Grand Prix
  • Duke’s Rodney Hood joining Jabari Parker in NBA draft
  • Phelps entered in 3 events at comeback meet
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Myx TV premieres Asian American ‘docu-series’
  • A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show
  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Business

  • Fiat-Chrysler to produce iconic Jeep in China from 2015
  • US commerce secretary spells out economic facet of ‘pivot to Asia’
  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • DOH to continue tracking co-passengers of OFW infected with MERS virus
  • 5 Filipinos with MERS in UAE reported in stable condition
  • PH boosts MERS monitoring after UAE nurse scare
  • Canadians back PH plea to take back waste
  • We treasure our Sierra Madre
    Marketplace