We are family: Tim Yap with Pingles the stray rescue, Valentinno, the Scottish Straight-hair, Gigi and Panda the Pomeranians. On the table beside them are the Masai Mara warrior dolls from Africa
Photos by Joey Viduya
For Tim Yap, raising pets is an important event
DOG DAZE - Kathy Moran (The Philippine Star) - May 8, 2018 - 12:00am

Two cats and two dogs add balance and harmony to a home filled with art.

I grew up in a big family. I am the youngest — there are seven of us. I was always the last to enter car as we drove home along Roxas Boulevard,” says Tim Yap, as he gives us a tour of the home he shares with partner Javi Martinez and their four pets — Gigi and Panda the Pomeranians; Pringles, a rescued street cat; and his newest baby Valentinno, a Scottish Straight hair. “As a child I would stare out of the window of the car and look at the moon. I was fascinated with the moon because I was told that there is a man on the moon.”

Today, his three-bedroom, four-story house is patterned after that concept. It was in late 2016 that Tim moved to his house designed by his friend Juan Carlo Calma in Acacia Estates

“Everything that I have here are things that I have bought and collected during trips all over the world, and from art shows here, too,” shares Tim. During our tour around the art-filled house, it dawns on me that there is not a single piece of art, furniture, bathroom or kitchen fixture that Tim does not have a memory of or reason for why it is part of his abode.

 “When I went around Africa a few years ago, I stayed in the middle of the wilderness and the people who were my guides were Masai Mara warriors,” he shares. “I developed a good friendship with these guides because I hung out with them. So I got these dolls and I also have a lot of African memorabilia all throughout out the house to remember that time.”

Tim tells me that Valentinno, his Scottish straight-haired kitten, and Gigi the Pomeranian are on the third floor where the master’s bedroom is. To get there, we need to pass through two floors of his home. 

He asks if I noticed the moon sculpture by Carlo Calma outside.

Moon painting by Veronica, fiberglass scupture by Carlo Calma, 7 Stars inverted by Ronald Ventura and Man sitting is Manila FAME sculptures from JP Duray

“I was able to conceptualize my man-on-the-moon theme starting with that sculpture,” he says. “I knew that my own home would be a testimony and interpretation of that.”

The door at the entrance is round and gray, and is a depiction of the moon with the initials “TY” on it.

“When I got this place, I wanted to make a cylindrical-shaped house — shaped like the moon,” he emphasizes.

But since Tim could not make the home cylindrical, he filled it up with artworks that mirror the moon. There is also an astronaut (a commissioned work by Leeroy New) that occupies the center space of the second floor of his townhouse. Each floor is filled with figures and art that remind Tim of outer space.

“I feel that I am comfortable in space,” he explains.  “I used to think I was an alien. Until someone told me that perhaps I am an elemental — but upon closer inspection I am just really at ease in space.”

The tour continues

“These hands come from an art exhibit called ‘Helping Hands,’” Tim tells me. “Artists like Elmer Borlongan, Mariano Ching, Daniel de la Cruz, among many others, did a different interpretation of hand positions. I have the hands of Borlongan and Dela Cruz.”

For that hand exhibition, the proceeds from the artworks went to a fund that will help underprivileged artists for their hospitalization and the like.

Tim says that the majority of the artwork in his home are contemporary Filipino, but he does have a Dali and some international artists, too.

“When I get an artwork, I get it because I like it first. I usually find out who the artist is later on.”

As we reach the second floor we see the commissioned sculpture “Masayang Messiah” by Leeroy New. “Leeroy loves alien life forms,” says Tim. “I asked him to make my work happy because it is going to be the centerpiece of my house. I was sooo happy when I got it because I had just come back from my first bungee jump and I did the same position of ‘Masayang Messiah’ when I jumped.”

We tour his study and Tim points out, “This is my only Igan D’Bayan work.”

“Masayang Messiah” by Leroy New(left). Scupture by Igan D’ Bayan with artwork by Sam Penaso(right)

I smile as I see the artwork of Igan; after all, he is one of my fave artists. I am biased, of course, but who cares.

As we reach Tim’s bedroom, we are greeted by Gigi and Valentinno, who are both lying on the master’s bedroom bed.

“I like things in my home to be different and unique — much like a mirror of who I am,” he says. “I also like to surround myself with animals because I grew up in a household that was filled with animals.”

As a pet lover Tim is just as meticulous about making sure his furkids get along. “When picking a pet, I make sure to host a getting-to-know-you among the new one and the older pets,” he says. “I want all of us in my home to live in harmony — this way positive vibes rule my home.”

 Tim says that he misses Juanita, the first kitten he rescued, as she passed away recently. She was the first pet love of his life.

But he believes that Gigi is the Pomeranian that Juanita sent to him. Tim finds it uncanny that there are so many things Gigi does exactly the way Juanita would.

“I was told by a friend who is psychic that Juanita sent Gigi to me. I love all my pets and each one of them is special in their own way,” he shares. “Gigi is the pretty one and the most loving. Panda is hyper. Valentinno is affectionate and Pringles is naughty.”

Philippine Star: Is the wardrobe of your pets as colorful as yours? Do they have designer clothes?

Tim Yap: They have outfits for special occasions like Christmas, Valentine’s, Chinese New Year and the like, but I try not to hassle them as I see that they’re not too comfortable doing as many costume changes as me.  My late #JuanitaTheCat had a whole wardrobe from designer Kate Torralba when she was still designing, but these days I get something for them from my travels — not all clothes, but also treats and toys.

Have you brought them to any of your events?

Even if I realize that Gigi is quite a social one and Panda is the life of the party, I try to keep them at home to avoid them catching anything. Pets are naturally inquisitive and I don’t want them to have an overload of information and stimuli. I want to shield them from the real world by providing a safe haven at home where they are most spoiled… at least, with me.

Does Javi like pets, too, or is it a case of “love me, love my pets”?

Javi loves animals as much as I do. He treats all of them like our children, which is good. But he’s also the disciplinarian among the two of us, and I’m okay with that.

Do you believe pets go to heaven? And their spirits roam the earth, too?

Where else can unconditionally loving beings go? Their spirits, once they have ceased to exist in the physical plane, remain in our hearts, to remind us how it is to give, to live and to love — that way they remain with you long after they have gone.

Do you believe in reincarnation? And that humans can be reborn as animals and vice versa?

We are all beings that transform into different kinds of beings. When I am with animals, I am always amazed at how endearingly human they are. Sometimes human beings are not as kind and forgiving.

If you were a dog, which breed would you be?

Raising animals at home made me realize that breed is how you nurture them. But my friends would tell me that for sure I would be a lapdog.  I have the enthusiasm for show and extreme loyalty to my master. I can also be an Aspin as I am one to roam the streets and explore the world. As a cat, I would be one of those cats in Marrakech. There, they are loved and revered and they own the streets. There’s something so soulful about street cats; I love watching them and following them around, too.

I’m a cat stalker. I love watching their videos on social media, too. Yes, I’m one of those people.

Do you believe that humans are attracted to pets that look like them?

Just like parents who love the kid that looks exactly like them, I believe the same applies to animals. That or the opposite. Animals, just like people, come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.

Just the two of us: Tim and Panda on the wingred chair by Carlo Canseco, stool by Casa Bella, Table by Nix Alanon, balloon by Daniel de la Cruz and artwork by Yayoi Kusama

Why did you rescue Juanita?

There was no reason. It was a knee-jerk reaction to save a life. Later on, Juanita grew up to be a fine young cat, who taught me so many beautiful life lessons. We had a great time together and ironic that her last breath was right in front of the same spot where I rescued her. I believe, in the end, she also gave up her life for me.

What is your favorite thing to do with your pets?

I love watching them. It’s therapeutic. They are my personal Aquarium Channel.

How do you pick which pet you take home?

I pick the one who will add balance and harmony to my home.

Do you talk to your pets?  What would be a sample of a conversation?

“Hello, Gigi! You look so pretty today. Hey, Panda, don’t be so hyper, I will always be here to love you. You don’t need to worry. I love you guys all equally. Hey, Pringles, I can see you’re trying to steal some food. Don’t think I’m stupid; I’m just busy. Hey, Inno, okay, let’s cuddle. Awwww. Love it when you purr that way.”

Are your pets your stress-relievers?

Totally. I watch them play and it really takes my stress away. Taking their videos for my IG Stories is another thing that I super enjoy. I’m that parent who keeps on posting everything about their kids — my pets.

Have you met a dog or cat that you didn’t like? Has a dog or cat ever shown that they don’t like you?

There will be ones that will look at you with doubt, but when you show them that you mean no harm, and in fact would want to be friends, they relax and start to be friendly, too. Animals can sense if you like them and if you’re used to being with their kind. In my mind, I am telling them “I am one of you!”

What is the most expensive thing you’ve bought for your pets?

My home.  It’s really meant for them. They occupy one floor each.

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