Overlooking Mounts Makiling, Maculot and Batulao—a farmhouse to bowl you over | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

It might as well have been a miracle that a beautiful place like this was spared from Taal Volcano’s eruption last January. One’s sense of gratitude is heightened.

According to its owner, the property was just “dusted over with ashfall.”

On a sprawling bluff above the southernmost shore of Taal Lake, the property looks out to the water from the sloping side of a mountain. It was on this particular parcel of land, among many others he was shown, that Michael Rodriguez chose to build a farmhouse.

“Brokers kept showing me lots that they classified as ‘overlooking’ but this particular ‘overlooking’ just bowled me over,” Rodriguez said. “It really had a splendid view from all sides: Mt. Makiling, Mt. Maculot and Mt. Batulao. Its proximity to the forested and storied town of Alitagtag and its holy wooden cross, added to the feeling of a primal connection.”

Thus came to be “Quinta Ataalaya,” which means lookout from a mountain—a farmhouse with generous proportions on a verdant and hilly bluff.

Originally planned as a family rest house, Ataalaya Farmhouse has since become a unique home rental on Airbnb.

The main house, which took two years to build, is designed in the Cape Dutch Colonial style, a distinct architectural form which traces its roots to The Netherlands, Germany, France and Indonesia. Less ornate than other gabled styles, Cape Dutch houses and buildings are all whitewashed and feature simple curved gables. Wide eaves provide overhangs for porches and patios.

“I have always liked the Cape Dutch style, because it is elegant, distinctive and simple,” said Rodriguez. “I had long wanted to do a house in that style, but given the tropical setting, the trees, mainly bamboo groves surrounding the property and the capability of the local workers, I had to make some adjustments. The front gable, for example, had to be redone three times, because the local masons always went back to a Spanish Mission, or even the Chinese style of gable. I also wanted to have capiz windows. In the end, it ended up distinctly Cape Dutch but in a tropical setting. I call it Colonial Dutch, evoking the old plantation houses in Java and Sumatra.”

The house is rectangular, but with a veranda and porch serving as the main passageways. It has viewing decks to take in the beauty of Taal Lake from its southernmost point.

Easy vacation feel

The general openness and eclectic interior styling give the farmhouse an easy vacation feel. The house feels opened up and an air of cool nonchalance pervades.

Rodriguez and his wife Patty share an exuberant cross-cultural aesthetic, and this is evident all throughout the house.

The rooms are airy, flexible and built with sliding dividers. They are furnished with objects and furniture from continents where the couple lived at some point in their lives: Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Australia.

The spaces are like lessons in living with joy among things that free one from rules and where everything is to be enjoyed. And yet anything one may need, as far as modern creature comforts are concerned, is quietly and conveniently within reach.

Quinta Ataalaya and all of its rooms on two floors front the breathtaking view of the lake and look out to the gentle undulations of the gardens surrounding the grassy lawn. Upstairs it’s all about comfort and privacy, while the downstairs area is set up for seamless open-plan living where the kitchen, dining and entertaining spaces all share the view.

The garden is planted to local, tropical greens in a profusion of layers and contrasts: thick and thin, leafy and woody, smooth and rough, climbers and ground creepers all mixed in together, providing different patches of cool shade and natural light all day. Shady paths branch off and lead down to a gazebo with an upper balcony where cocktails can be had and stories can be told at dusk.

Quinta Ataalaya is a wonderfully stylish place to come together for family getaways and weekend entertaining with friends. —CONTRIBUTED

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