Two Trees

In a vacation city with over 3,000 listings for hotels, bed and breakfasts and homestays, my husband and I decided to set up our own. Whether you think us crazy or overly hopeful, it is an endeavor that has given me such unexpected fun and joy to create.

Our b&b dream began when we moved into our home seven years ago. Built on an incline, the lowest floor of the house was an empty space covered in gravel, girded by the house’s supporting posts and wall. Yet, it had the best view, of a ravine covered in pine trees and angel’s trumpets, a massive grove of bamboo at the bottom where the sun rose in the east. The space was begging to have us do something with it, but we had to put our plans on the backburner of our minds, our funds tied up in growing our small family.

Last year, with a loan from kind relatives, we were finally able to start working on our dream. Kidlat took care of the design, and he occasionally asked my advice on a few items. The design was very basic, because we knew that as things took shape, the universe would reveal ideas that we could not have predicted at the drawing board. One wall of the bathroom features a honeycomb design of “glass blocks” that are actually made of gin bottles (yes, three large trash bags-full that escaped decluttering at a friend’s house). The bedroom wall facing our beautiful eastern view appears to pay homage to the artist Mondrian. It was supposed to be a round window, but just as we were about to build it, a friend who had just sold her house called us up and asked us if we wanted all her tempered glass—for free! We didn’t hesitate to accept such a valuable gift. In order to make use of the varied sizes of those rectangular sheets of glass, we went for the Mondrian pattern, and found that it was a much better decision than doing a round window that would have cut the view on the side.

We didn’t buy any furniture. We accepted donations from my parents, and since we are all still sleeping on a mattress on the floor to prevent our sleep crawling babies from falling off a high bed, our handmade queen-sized bed frame graces the b&b’s master bedroom. In the smaller room sits the desk that belonged to my grandfather, who was once Baguio’s sheriff and clerk of court. My dad has fond memories of hiding under it as a little boy to escape a spanking. Paintings by my mom Marisa, wall-sized woven photographs by Kidlat, photography books by our friends Tommy Hafalla and Emmanuel Santos…there are touches everywhere that are as personal as they are functional.

After the space was built, we put garden furniture and plants along the supporting wall, where we also have a dap-ay. Mornings there are absolutely gorgeous, and I often sit on one of the garden chairs while sipping my morning coffee, enjoying the sun and the trees and the twittering of birds, feeling nature’s peaceful vibe permeate my skin and calm my spirit. I don’t meditate while I sit there, for there is no need. I simply look at all the green surrounding me, breathe deeply, and smile. I have no mantra, no method of concentration. I just sit in oneness with Nature and smile from every organ, every cell of my body.

We have no plans to install a TV in our two cozy rooms. It may be a dealbreaker for some, and that’s okay. What we want to share with our guests is that feeling of old Baguio, of being close to nature, of having hours of nothing to do but read a good book while curled up under a soft, warm blanket, or sharing good times with friends around the bonfire. For those who need a city vibe, the center of Baguio is a five-minute drive away.

I have just finished fixing the main bedroom for a guest arriving today. It makes me so happy to put the bed sheets on myself, fold the towels away on the pinewood bathroom shelf, straighten out embroidered pillows and soft chenille blankets, choose new titles for the bookshelf. Of course, I pour myself into this work in the hope that Two Trees Guest House will be a financial success, but I also know that what we offer is a share in our homemade bliss.