By definition, the word Filipino means a native or citizen of the Philippines. When it comes to traditional Filipino homes, the style is always with a hint of Spanish colonial design. Although the “bahay kubo” (common term for the farmer’s nipa hut) is a common sight in historical, as well as, modern Filipino home style, the Filipino home exudes the Spanish tradition owing to the fact that the Philippines was under Spanish rule for over 400 years. It is quite easy to decorate your home in a traditional Filipino-style. All it really needs is a touch of heritage and earth-bound décor that will complement your modern home.
You’ll find a typical traditional Filipino home surrounded by windows, especially on the upper floors. This is to allow the cool breeze in, especially during the hot summer months. The windows are usually made of Capiz shells, so named because it is a predominant product of Capiz, which is a province of the Philippines located in the Western Visayas region. A Capiz shell is the outer shell of the marine mollusk, Placuna placenta, found in the shallow coastal waters of the Philippines. It is a common decorating item used in a Filipino traditional home. The Capiz windows are very popular among Philippine interior design experts in decorating homes with a nostalgic feel. Dividers, floor-screen and tall mirrors bordered with Capiz shells are some of the preferred accessories in Filipino homes, whether traditional or modern.
Wood carved furniture is a major part of traditional Filipino homes. Choose wooden bed frames carved with intricate artwork, usually depicting the Philippine scenery. Four-poster beds usually have white mosquito nets draped over them. Not only do mosquito nets soften the look of the hard wood, they also help protect people from mosquito and other insect bites. Most traditional Filipino homes have wooden dressers, wooden antique rocking chairs and wooden dining tables. Some homes occupied by Catholics (most Filipinos practice Catholicism) even have a wooden kneeler with matching chair, with an old bible near the set. A large curtain, similar to a bride’s traditional veil, usually drapes over the kneeling set.
For window covers, you normally would not find heavy drapery. Most traditional homes use crocheted or lace white curtains. Crocheted and embroidered bed and pillow covers are also very common in a Filipino traditional home. In some homes, tables and chairs have crocheted or lace tablecloths draped over them.
A traditional Filipino home does not have carpeting or area rugs. Bare, hardwood floors are the main type of flooring. Filipinos love to make their wood floors shiny that they become slippery due to floor wax used to polish the floors.
Antiquity is very rich among traditional Filipino homes. Some old houses even display Maria Clara style Filipina gowns, which are traditional long gowns worn by women in the Philippines, and barongs, a formal outfit worn by Filipino men. In the absence of these items, you can place huge earthen pots which you can fill with coins. You can also place antique jars along your hallways and complement those with antique lamps. Best choice should be those made of Capiz shells.
Where antiquity flourishes, so would trophies and figurines. Old Filipino homes are never without a display of a long wooden sword, usually taken from a sword fish. In one corner of the living room, you can also put a carved wooden figure of the monkey-eating eagle (also known as the Philippine bald eagle). If eagles are not your cup of tea, you may opt to put a carved wooden figure of a native man smoking a pipe of playing the flute. In a traditional Filipino dining room, you will also find huge wooden spoon and a matching wooden fork hanging on the walls. A traditional Filipino painting that depicts Philippine scenery, such as famers working in the rice fields or fishermen working on their boats by the sea. One popular depiction is an old market scene where female vendors line the streets selling vegetables and other farming products.
Whether you are a Filipino living in or out of your native land, decorating your home in traditional Filipino style will keep you in touch of your culture and tradition. If you are a non-Filipino, but would like to use a different Asian style of decoration, this style will give your home a nostalgic appeal.
Indeed, the traditional Filipino home is a wonderful collection of historical artifacts. It’s like taking a stroll down memory lane and taking a glimpse of what the Filipino ancestors were like hundreds of years ago.