John's Hammock opens to a view of the entire living area with its open space floor plan

See How This Gorgeous Tagaytay Home Was Partly Built from Scraps!

  • December 10, 2018

They say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. At first look, though, you can hardly categorize the house that stands in Tagaytay, called John’s Hammock Vacation House by vacationers, and its builders and business partners Jun Mangaliag and Helena Heo as trash.

Tucked away in a farm that’s a good few minutes’ worth of drive amid trees and a very slim, one-way grass trail, John’s Hammock is the kind of house you’d stay in for some quality time with family or friends. The house keeps to itself the biggest structure in the entire farm right next to what the owner calls the modest “John’s Bodega.”


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An almost ethereal hammock sits just right outside the Tagaytay home’s front door, a sweet highlight in the already sweet escape


It’s far from the promise of a manicured house. After all, the star piece of the farm was built as a challenge to the creativity of the co-owners. The layout for their grand building plan was fairly simple: build a unique house that doesn’t burn finances, but will stand as a testament to great design. The two already had an idea on how to attain this; and that was to keep the leftover materials from their firm’s projects.


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His experience in builder allowed Jun to create even the small furniture in the Tagaytay home


On paper, it seems that the end product would be a hodgepodge of a home. Bits and pieces of varying projects—which includes a music store and a Korean restaurant—don’t immediately call to mind a cohesive look. But this is where they put their own tastes, background and heads together for a show-stopper Tagaytay home.


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Focusing on textures than expensive materials, the builders tried to blend together their tastes with as little spending as possible


“We call it the ‘distressed’ style. In other words, ‘tamad,'” Jun laughs. Far from what the connotation implies, the house looks anything but haphazardly put together. If there was anything that the builders were lazy about, it was taking the leftover pieces of their projects out on trash day.


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John’s Hammock opens to a view of the entire living area with its open space floor plan


Given his background as a furniture maker when he was still in Zambales, Jun knew how to transform what other people considered to be disposable. Three of the book cabinets around the home almost met their maker when the builders finished their contractor work. But instead, the cabinets were hauled into Jun’s truck and into his little workshop near the house.

Here, he got to work, scraping away the varnish and stripping down any previous paints and finishes. The cabinet came out looking brand new and even personalized to a touch. The same goes with the décor just above their dining table. If you know where to look, you would see that the wooden structures for the light fixtures actually mimic the fixtures in a certain Korean BBQ restaurant in Bonifacio Global City.


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Some of the Tagaytay home’s building materials and furniture came from old projects, including a makeshift exhaust turned light fixture


Even the centerpieces in John’s Hammock did not come with insane prices. Going up the loft, visitors will have to us the stripped-down metal staircase that is a lot sturdier than it looks. Painted gold from top to bottom, the builders didn’t think twice about keeping it barebones with no railings.


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The Tagaytay home’s golden stair railing proves that gold can be found in other people’s disposables


Thrill of the rickety feeling going up aside—you’d need to leave your slippers on the floor, just in case—they decided to keep the skeleton for design aesthetics. Of course, the loft is off-limits to kids and older people who might have a difficulty going up and down the spiral. What they would miss is a pretty loft that gives an even prettier view of the living space downstairs.

While visitors can do just about anything with that open space, Helena has a few tatami-like cushioned mats, a Korean tea table and the matching tea set and brew. It’s not hard to imagine spending a cool afternoon in Tagaytay brewing a pot of loose leaf tea, chilling on the mat while having a good kwentuhan or kantahan session. Just be careful in bringing up one of Jun’s guitars up the loft.


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Helena’s Korean habits liven up the loft where it’s easy to set up and have some good ol’ brew


For Jun, the secret to pulling off a distressed house is making sure that you have a good, solid foundation. If they had spent on anything, it would have to be the flooring. Using synthetic granite, they added texture to the floors to avoid an all-white, hospital-style finish. “Just by putting something in between the bigger tiles, it looks a little more playful. It feels like we needed with more texture and even an expensive-looking design,” he says.


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Jun’s interest in music shines with the many guitars and musical instruments around the Tagaytay home


There’s nothing lazy about this move either. Perhaps part of Jun’s guidebook is perfection. He shares that they painstakingly measured each of the tiles to make sure that nothing got cut. That also meant finding the right size for the filler tiles that created the patterned floor for the entire main area. Jun gushes over how his first love in the Tagaytay home would be the textures. He can’t even choose a particular space that he would rank as his favorite. What he loves would be the way each wall tells a different story or shows off a different personality.

“It feels like the house changes when you go from one room to the other. This side is smooth, the other has rough edges, the other has asymmetrical lines,” he says. “We even have that highlight in the study that’s made with synthetic material shaped like boulders to give the room more appeal.”

Blend this with Helena’s preference for nature, influenced by her Korean roots, and you can have the explosion of dramatic walls within that modest space. A favorite among visitors is the dining room’s wall. Instead of leaving it whitewashed with just a rough finish, Helena had put some lanzones trees that they had cut down behind the house, and lined up neatly along the walls.


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Helena’s preference for nature ended up giving this wall a faux snow-in-the-trees concept backdrop


“It’s about building your house while also considering what’s available within the vicinity of your house.” So would they say that the challenge was a success? Jun’s uncontainable excitement when talking about the home is proof enough. Maybe that’s what naturally happens when it involves something that you treasure and hold close to your heart.

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