It’s at least a two-hour drive away from Alabang, a journey that takes you past the winding, rolling highways of Tagaytay and Nasugbu, and onto a long, narrow road flanked by wild grass and trees. The sign outside proclaims it a bahay kubo, but Sabrina Artadi prefers to describe it as a “slice of heaven,” a more apt description for her family’s Batangas beach house getaway.
She first came to know of this two-storey affair through its original owners, a couple who liked to open up their home to her and anyone looking for a private escape with access to the beach. Never mind its previous design sensibility—the red carpet, low ceiling, and santan bushes surrounding the pool.
With its sweeping view of the sea—behold, Fortune Island and Tali Beach in the distance—Sabrina and her partner Bob fell in love with the place, and secretly wished they could be blessed with something this beautiful.
Five years ago, their wish came true. With grown kids and much to do in Manila, the owners found themselves spending less and less time in Batangas. Sabrina and Bob made an offer they couldn’t refuse, and when the deal was sealed, the new owners found themselves not only with the beach house of their dreams, but also with its caretakers Edwin and Josie, whom Sabrina now considers part of her family.
Reinventing the home was a slow but sure process completed only in November 2010.
In charge of the garden, Bob was responsible for the serene spread of green that everyone who enters their wooden gates walks into, a well-tended lawn with a lush herb garden (courtesy of Edwin), bamboo trees, Buddha statues, and the constant sound of water trickling from two fountains.
Doing without walls and windows in the living and dining areas was also his idea. Instead of building from scratch (a move Sabrina considers a total waste, given the quality materials and sturdy foundation of homes constructed in the ‘60s and ‘70s), walls were gladly blown out, sending in an abundance of sunlight and fresh air and instantly transforming the look and ambiance of the place. “Light and wind,” says Sabrina, “are very important in a home.” In the event of a storm, accordion-style glass panels instantly seal in the living area without blocking the exquisite ocean view or the garden’s calming wall of greens.
Thanks to some thoughtful extensions (and reassigning the kitchen from the front to the lanai out back where Sabrina, a self-taught cook with an upcoming cable show, can interact with friends while preparing lunch or dinner), the once four-bedroom home now boasts five rooms, each with its own balcony and breathtaking view. The master bedroom, of course, has the most stunning vantage point of the sea: it’s the last thing Sabrina and Bob see before they turn in at night and the first thing they see when they wake up in the morning. The view even extends to the bathroom, where dips in the tub tend to take longer than usual, what with the mesmerizing sight.
Eclectic accent pieces and fabulous furniture finds from Evangelista give the house its easy, unpretentious atmosphere; they’re also a reflection of the lady of the house. “St. Joseph is someone who has left a great impression on me,” explains Sabrina of the saint’s carved woodworks in the main entrance. “I feel that we really need good fathers, so he’s an inspiration.”
The large and colorful paintings of mosques and leopards are by her; painting is a way to unwind and express herself. People have offered to buy her works, but Sabrina, who has not attended a single art class, insists her paintings are solely for her. “Besides,” she confesses with a laugh, “I get so attached!”
When they aren’t sharing the house with others, Sabrina, Bob, and their kids are only too happy to have it all to themselves.
On weekends, the lady, who handles business development for FedEx and Air 21, will drive off with her brood to Batangas, where they spend the day lounging around, enjoying the blessing that is theirs. After watching the sunset, a spectacular event by Sabrina’s account, the family will make the trip back to their city home in Alabang.
“It’s always hard to leave,” she admits with a sigh. Thank God for weekends