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The Rehabilitation of the Ancestral House

The Meeting Room

In the first four months of rehabbing, visitors dropped by with regularity -- asking for handouts, soliciting, selling services, seeking employment, medical consultations or free medicines. Some came, curiosities piqued about the restoration, others hoping to share their stories about long-ago Tiaong, the old house, and remembrances of Lolo Tomas and Lola Concha, and the uncles and aunts.

The guests were received in the grand living/dining room, the occasional child about, jumping up and down the couch. A meeting room was sorely needed. So, rather than move to the second floor, I decided to do a front room in the ground floor space under the kitchen.

The front room walls and ceiling were black and thick with soot and oily kitchen grime from years of indoor cooking. A skin of cement and grime was tediously chiseled off. A sliding door was fashioned from two old doors and grills, new tracks were installed. The floor was laid with Vigan tiles. Capiz-doors from Pulang Lupa were recycled and used for wall paneling. A dismantled wooden cabinet, was reassembled and framed by a concrete wall. A metal table and three chairs were fabricated, the table topped by a warped wooden lazy Susan, a relic piece from the round and equally warped living room table.

It was done in unison with the outside kitchen steps and walkway, the work moving in and out, depending on the weather, moving indoors when the rains came, often in the late afternoon hours.

Like all the other rooms, it presented with asymmetries that needed correction before tracks, lights, and cabinets could be installed. For posterity's sake, albeit uncertain, we decided to fix as much of it -- the misalignments, corners that didn't meet, tilted beams, and crooked walls -- work that consumed days and weeks, the effort eventually to be lost in the veneer of finished work.

It finished well, I think. A room destined for sundry uses. Not just a meeting room, its first designation. A reading room. A consultation room. A breakfast room. A card or tong-it room. Gary asked to put a bed some place. Well, it's an any-room.