In the city jungle of Pasay, it is still a wonder to discover places which seem untouched and unexploited by rapid modernization.
Ask any regular passerby in Zamora St. (which is just perpendicular to MRT Taft Station), if there is any extraordinary place along the street to be curious about, and I bet you you’ll get a nada. But what almost everybody doesn’t know about is this beautiful secret just hiding behind an unassuming dark brown gate painted with number 2650.
To artists and historians, the place is known as the residence of the late national artist Pablo S. Antonio, Sr., considered the foremost modern architect in the Philippines and the man behind the art deco structures of FEU, Manila Polo Club, Orchid Garden Suites, White Cross and some now-defunct theaters and railway stations. To foodies, it is known as My Mother’s Garden.
I’m happy to step into the home of the national artist and be welcomed by his only daughter, Malu Veloso, the brain behind Mother’s Garden. The idea of converting their home into a private dining place was actually her way of maintaining the place, at the same time keeping the memory of both her parents - her father for designing an enduring model of a Filipino stylized tropical house and her mother Doña Marina for creating the lovely garden around and inside their home.
Built in 1948, the residence of the Antonio’s is recognized for epitomizing Filipino architecture that is adaptive to the changing climate. Its massive adobe walls and structured wooden ceiling are balanced by panoramic screen windows that provide natural lighting and ventilation and soothing views of greenery. Accented with rattan living room furniture and window daybeds, its ambiance is cool and refreshing.
My Mother’s Garden offers intimate buffet lunch and dinner. Diners are treated by Malu as if they were friends or family members. I was quite satisfied with her delicious home-cooked food, particularly the salad with mango and basil dressing, pasta with three sauces, shrimp sautéed in olive oil and garlic, and lemon-butter chicken.
Pasta sauces of chorizo, black olive and pomodoro
Lemon butter chicken
Strawberry cream cupcake and chocolate cake
Malu is also a fashion designer like her mother. There are display rooms for their bridal gown and jewelry creations, some of which were made by her daughter Letlet (who also followed in her footstep) and some marginalized mothers from Navotas, whom they are able to provide with livelihood.
The outdoor garden has numerous trees, exotic plants, and flowers, ponds with gold fish and some cats, making the residence truly an enchanting jungle within the city.
A Filipino architect once said that the Antonio heritage home is a shy man’s house. But even if I don’t have the license, I beg to disagree. Because I can simply tell how this house bares its heart and soul to its visitors and dwellers. And how rays of happiness often sneak in through the windows they have for decades, deliberately left open.
My Mother’s Garden
#2650 Zamora St.
Tel. No: 831-8407