The Fantasy to Build the Pretty but Cheap House in the Philippines

Archian Design Architect Studio Iloilo - Cebu City

The Fantasy of the Pretty & Cheap House in the Philippines

Goethe once said, ‘Be careful what you ask for, because sometimes you may actually get what you ask.”

Bahay Kubo kahit munti - ang halaman doon ay sari sari

The Cheapest and Prettiest House in the World!

Many people living in the Philippines dream of building the prettiest house with the least or no cost. It’s the Filipino’s dream.

It is also the architect’s nightmare.

Hybrid Nipa Hut - Modern Bahay Hubo

Hybrid Nipa Hut – Modern Bahay Hubo

Let us go and define what these mean to me and probably to you too.

Part A: The Cheapest

Having studied and architecture, the projects to design the cheapest houses for the poor of the Philippines have not end. In real life, the poorest live in the streets, covered by cardboards, next is wood and thrown away sheet roofing as walls along squatters, and on “bahay kubo”, the rural house.

Part B: The Prettiest

There is no limit to pretty. Any house with good budget and a design architect can give you that. They may choose from any style: contemporary, classical, Mediterranean, modern, Asian, minimalist, tropical or country. If you still don’t have a descent Filipino Architect in mind, try Arch Ian Jay Bantilan. But that is not the real problem the problem is how to design your house cheap, which brings us to the conclusion.

The Cheapest and Prettiest House in the World!

Before we go to conclusion, let me first give a little history. It is common fact that the Philippines has been colonized by 3 foreign nations, (The Spanish, American and Japanese) and influenced by 3 other neighboring cultures. (The Chinese, the Indian and the Arabs) It is easy to find an excellent mix of influences. For some part, the influence becomes our strength in diversity, and yet on the flip side, it can also be our superficiality and no sense of originality.

Tiled Roof Native Tropical House

Tiled Roof Native Tropical House in Singapore

With a history like ours (Philippines), we have gone through a lot! And we can give ourselves credit. My experience in Dubai, a mix of cultures allowed me to compare different designers from many countries. Our unique history gives us an edge in designing modern houses and buildings – we can easily adapt. But with it we also have our conflicts. We are one country that excel beyond our Asian neighbors in winning the recent Miss Universe pageant. We can comprehend the nuances that other Asian English speakers cannot grasp.

We are Filipino.

Modern Twist on Bahay Kubo

Bahay Kubo trying to look Modern

Yet we are one country that cannot live with ourselves. We copy. We try to become our colonizers. Why else have Mediterranean houses thrived for over a Century even though we have a tropical weather and a full rainy season? And we cannot blame our architects. It is our clients that have the last say. For some ways, the copying may improve on the original, but at other times, it looks trying hard.

Pretentious Bahay Kubo

Pretentious Bahay Kubo

What is keeping us from embracing our greatness? We the Filipino, who are industrious, respectful, very welcoming and friendly, filled with genius and discipline, respectful and brave. What keeps us mediocre and settling for the shallow and superficial?

It is an acceptance of ourselves.


In an analysis of the local tourism, foreigners were asked to give feedback on what they liked and dislike most in the Philippines. The report concluded that tourists looked for the feel of the place. The local identity that we take for granted – the rich green foliage of a landscape now all covered in concrete, the sun and its glory which we try our best to compensate with air condition (this is ok, but can sometimes be over reacting), the native houses – which is replaced by artificial Classical Greek, European, Country Style and Mediteranean houses – everything counter to what attracted the western travelers. Culture, furniture and houses that are not authentic to the spirit of the place – all cover ups to things that are naturally us. Any American can go to Paris and find the French style historical houses, and they would find them in character with the place. If they want to see Italian Architecture, they will certainly not go to the Philippines, no matter how Italian the Filipino Design is. It is just not in character.

Arch Manosa - asian style kubo - Eskaya

Arch Manosa – Asian Style Kubo – Eskaya

We have to embrace the deep part of ourselves that we fear. We need to accept our qualities, the hotness and humid of our place, the constant rain and typhoon, the Muslim South, the Spanish Roots, the Chinese heritage. All our part of our history. We have to accept our greatness. We have to live it. We don’t have to be anyone else. We are uniquely gifted and brilliant as a people. Whenever you feel you need to have a European or American house, or a house that looks like the one your neighbors have, think again. The Americans and the Europeans want to have what you have. 😀

Now we ask: what is the cheapest and the prettiest house in the Philippines?

For the world?

It depends.

For the Philippines?

You already know the answer. The bahay kubo. How? Please read the next article The Wonders of the Bahay Kubo.

Archian Design Architect Studio Iloilo - Cebu City

Click about to get in tough with the Architect.

Has these article been interesting to you? Please take time to share. 🙂

About Archian
An Architect, Blogger and Strategic Thinker

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: