Over 30 years ago, when husband and wife Alex and Paz Juco were looking for a house for their family of six, they had a couple of considerations in mind. Alex wanted a sturdy home, built to last, safe enough to protect his children from typhoons, earthquakes, intruders. Paz, on the other hand, was after the aesthetic value of a property. She would very much love to live in an antique home having grown up in a bahay na bato.
They checked out a number of properties until they came across a newspaper ad for a Spanish villa for sale in the QC area. “Pagdating namin sa bahay, sa gate pa lang, nagkatinginan na kami ng wife ko,” Alex, now in his senior years, recalls the day they first set foot on the property. They knew they’ve hit on the house they were looking for.
Actually, the house is hardly visible from outside—it stood on a rolling hill and is partly hidden from view. The structure, built in the 1970s, seemed straight out of a fairy tale, covered in poison ivy and surrounded by tall grasses and overgrown trees. A lover of medieval-style homes and castles, Alex had always imagined himself and his family inhabiting a house in similar style. “Gusto ko na parang ako ang hari at ang aking apat na anak ang mga prinsesa ko,” he tells ANCX. “Napi-picture ko na kung ano ang gagawin ko sa paligid, ang mga ilalagay kong chandelier at iba pang lights.”
Alex is a self-confessed art enthusiast and craftsman. He has talents in crafting wood and metal, landscaping, and calligraphy. He likes collecting vintage art pieces and repurposing junk into functional art. He says he got his knack for the arts from his grandfather whose hobby was carpentry and from his mother who was a skilled embroiderer.
Mr. Juco admits to being the sentimental type. He likes to look back on memories of his youth, his loved ones, his children’s growing up years. All these, along with his artistic inclinations are all over their fairy tale home.
The stories within the walls
The real estate group Presello recently featured the Juco sanctuary on its YouTube channel, and not only once did host Julia Richards expressed her admiration for the intricate metalwork that can be seen around the house. Needless to say, these were all meticulously handcrafted by the padre de familia.
The property has its own little courtyard. One of the four daughters used to work in a record company and would invite artists for jam sessions. So what Alex did was turn the garden into a musical area, complete with an elevated section where guests can perform. He fashioned the metal railings as to make space for musical notes. He wanted the area to have movement, so even the downspout isn’t straight but flowed along with its surroundings.
There are many other examples of Alex’s sleight of hand in the entire property. He pointed to us a portion of the Presello video that shows a framed antique vase mounted on a wall. He says the vase is quite a precious piece and that he and his mother used to shoot old coins in it when he was a boy. He once saw the vase in his grandfather’s yard already discarded and forgotten. He found out it’s made of brass and enamel so he framed it in what used to be a bathroom window, repurposing the entire assemblage into a fine-looking wall lamp.
There’s also a unique chandelier in their living room space, formerly a planter made of fiber glass that he got from a guy selling junk; a beautiful antique wood carving spotted from a magkakariton. “It used to be a headboard. Ngayon, part na ng pintuan namin,” Alex says. There’s a built-in cabinet repurposed as a stove top. The man of the house even built a wrought iron princess bed and a wine rack from scratch.
The house looks amazing in pictures and video, which is why it’s quite a popular venue for photo and video shoots. Among the videos shot here are Sitti’s “Kung Di Rin Lang Ikaw,” Bayang Barrios’ “Gising Na Kaibigan,” and Christian Bautista’s “Terrified.” One of Alex’s favorite spots to recommend for shoots is a British-style phone booth found in their den. “When we traveled to the US, may nakita syang antique phone. Nagustuhan nya, so binili nya. Hindi naman namin alam kung saan namin ilalagay dito sa bahay,” recalls Paz. Until one of their daughters suggested Alex build an English phone booth to house the item, which he did using old French windows.
Alex is clearly also a lover of plants, as shown by the vertical gardens surrounding the house. The entire place was cemented to keep snakes off the property but this did not stop him from growing his collection of greens. What he did was build parapets for the plants, effectively making his courtyard even more enchanting.
One can see the love and care the homeowners have poured into the property. So it’s quite surprising that after over 30 years of establishing their roots here, Alex and Paz have decided to let go of it. The house is now in the market for P38 million thru Presello. “Kami na lang kasing dalawa [ni Alex] ang nakatira dito,” says Paz. “Our daughter is only here on Sundays. Two of our kids are already out of the country. Hindi kami makaalis together because we’re both tied down to the property.”
Now in their 70s, Alex says he and Paz are now ready for a more simple life. “Ang goal lang namin now is to be together habang may natitira pang time,” he says.
[Photos courtesy of Presello]