fresh no ads
AT HOME WITH EDDIE AND VENUS NAVALTA - The siren’s call south |

Modern Living


- Bea J. Ledesma -
In the home of the Navaltas, a modest two-storey structure in what most Manila-residing people would consider the hinterlands, nothing is what it seems. The façade, a becoming mosaic of dark burnished brick and wood paneling, gives the home a natural unstudied look. Dubbed the "beach house" by neighbors in Ayala Westgrove Heights, an exclusive neighborhood in the green heartland of Cavite, it’s occupied by an artist family of three. Their home here is their primary home base, a change in pace for the busy family whose jobs take them regularly to Makati. Venus Navalta, managing director of the media department for McCann – the agency famous for churning out award-winning ads for some of the biggest conglomerates this side of the Atlantic – was the initial reason for the move. "I developed adult asthma," she confesses, "so we had to move out of the city." Their original home in Cainta, along with the traffic-heavy commute between the house and her office in Makati, was a haven for smog and particle-heavy air pollution. "And going through Ortigas, where traffic gets worse and worse every day, added another hour to our travel time." Sitting in her airy comfortable living room, the afternoon sun streaming in through the terrace’s French doors, it doesn’t seem like such a bad life. The breeze was strong, the fresh air perfumed with the surrounding flora and fauna’s scents.

Venus’ husband, Eddie Navalta, a freelance voice talent considered a veteran in the industry, has no qualms about shifting to a home much farther than their original’s. "It may be farther in terms of distance," he says, "but if we need to head to Makati for work, we just hop on the highway, take the Skyway and we’re there in 45 minutes."
Heading South
The community at Westgrove is a tightly knit one. Considering there were only about 50 homes when the Navaltas moved in, it wasn’t hard to figure out who the neighbors were. Today, the neighborhood’s grown to about 100 families, many making the move from the city to avoid the constant traffic congestion and the everyday stress of noise pollution. "It’s so peaceful here," Venus says. "Everything’s green and just beautiful. It’s a fight to leave home every day."

"It’s a matter of choice," explains Eddie. "If you want quiet and relaxation and you don’t mind making the 45-minute trek, then this is for you."

It was easy for the Navaltas to find their perfect lot. Though they originally chose another spot – they went home to mull it over first, only to discover when they returned to give a down payment that someone had already taken it – the plot of land they finally found couldn’t have been better. "When we saw it," says Venus, "we immediately plunked down the payment." Not surprising, really. The house sits on a grassy knoll, a hill really, with views to die for. Standing in their bedroom’s balcony (every room in the house has one), the couple can’t help but brag. "To your right is Mt. Banahaw, to your front Mt. Makiling and to the left Laguna de Bay." Eddie opens the doors for a better view. "On a clear day, you can see it all."

Unlike the modernist structures being built today that tend to look independent of their surroundings, the Navalta home is totally at peace with its surroundings. Designed by architect Augusto Villalon, "who’s a conservationist," adds Venus, the look is distinctly Filipino. "We knew what we wanted right from the start," she says. "We had seen Augusto’s work before. When he gave us the first sketch, we knew instantly it was perfect." Decked out in wood, which was gathered by the couple throughout the years in the hope they would serve as the structure of their first planned and designed home, it glows in the daylight, absorbing each fraction of light to emit a soothing glow. From the wide steps leading to another balcony on the landing to the round table on the breakfast nook to the beds in each room to the sculptures dotting conveniently placed side tables, everything was cast in wood, an homage to their nature-loving roots.

Well-placed plants create a lovely foil for the space. Though relatively small – the home only has two bedrooms with an office multi-tasking as a guest bedroom when friends and family arrive – the open-plan design and the home’s clean interiors make for a spacious ground floor. The second half of the second floor opens up to the first, which allows light from the windows above to flow into the living space.

Everything, from the curved couch cast in woven rattan to the wooden panels the couple bought from Angono, seems like they were plucked from nature. Though their style could be classified as eclectic (some modern pieces are laid about the home), all the pieces come together in a look uniquely organic. As soon as you enter, you know that every stick of furniture wasn’t planted by some calculating interior decorator. "This house is still evolving," declares Eddie. Like a project, they set about decorating their home with furniture from their Cainta residence along with art they picked up along the way on their trips.

The couple, along with son Carlo who works at Adfarm, a production house in Makati, have nomadic tendencies. They travel between their home to their beach house in the North at least once a month. And, during much-needed breaks, they can be found meandering across the Philippines in their trusty truck, zigzagging across various regions without a map or itinerary.

"We buy art everywhere," Eddie says as he points to heavy kamagong stools made in Kalinga. From roadside stops made along dusty highways in the province to art purchased from the creative team at McCann, the home has been lovingly furnished by a couple passionate about making this home away from the city even more of a luxurious hideaway.
Fresh Start
"You know, when we moved here, my friends were always asking, ‘How can you leave the city?’" Venus says with a laugh. She sips from a freshly made cup of coffee as the wind ruffles her hair. She’s sitting in the terrace at the end of the house, facing a broad expanse of greenery and a sunset that looks like it’s competing for a postcard contest. "Well, I know – every time I come up the drive from a stressful day at work and immediately relax as soon as I hit those village gates – that I made the right choice. Life here is just so… serene." Her husband and son look on thoughtfully. "This place is a refuge, you know?" she says. And as the breeze ruffles my hair and glides over my skin, I can’t help but nod silently.

vuukle comment











Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with