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 point.

The Cheapest and Prettiest House in the World!

Before we move to our point, let me first state 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 have to give ourselves credit. Our unique history gives us an edge in designing modern houses and buildings – we can easily adapt. We can even speak better English with better grammer than English native speakers. 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.

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 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 sun (we want to look lighter), the bahay kubo, and the crafts – that’s what attracted the western travellers. And what was their response – they arrived to find classical Greek detail houses – they should have traveled to Greece and Rome to see the real one.

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 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.

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About Archian
An Architect, Blogger and Strategic Thinker

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