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The Rehabilitation of the Ancestral House

The Back Entrance

It never sounded right, referring to it as backyard. We called it "likod ng bahay na bato," accessed by a side gate and garage entrance, with a walkway, often muddied, with a growth of various wild trees and shrubs crowding each other out -- gumamela, tanglad, santan, oregano, sambong, among others. Many were medicinal plants, some fruiting, there by the accident of birds and thrown seeds. Two trees were wild, fruiting and flowering, but uprooting the cement drains and walkways. After the decision was made to cut them down, there was a long and serious effort to identify the trees. Names were tossed about: cherry tree, anise, laurel, many more, all quickly disproved by contradicting botanical descriptions.

The backyard project--the steps, lamppost, walkway, stoneworks, gazebo--took more than four months to finish. There were no drawings on paper. Instead, it was a daily "stand-and-ponder" approach, eyeballing and lots of "hmm," changes and additions made as the flashes of ideas and eurekas struck. Design elements from the old house were incorporated, old grillworks and doors were recycled.

Visitors and passersby have oohed and aahed: that it has never looked this nice before, or that it seems so much like part of the old house.