March 27, 2017

Casa Mara Tagaytay

Growing a garden means getting your hands in the dirt, your head under the sun but at the same time your heart and soul nurtured. Gardening or being just surrounded by nature makes one feel renewed inside. Raul Dizon, an architect by profession, marries his talent for building houses and passion in gardening and the result was quite lovely, rustic, charming – the Casa Mara.

Just a short walking distance from Tagaytay City Market and standing amidst hilly pineapple plantation, Casa Mara was built in 2003 by Raul to serve as a vacation home (far away from the noise and pollution of the city) for him and his wife Maribel. The name of the casa is actually a portmanteau of the couple’s first names.

The two-storey home was built from new and recycled materials, mainly brick and wood. Some of their close friends and relatives they have hosted in the past can’t help but post in FB or IG about the house and soon they received inquiries from people if they are renting the place out. Because of these requests, Raul decided to convert their home into a bed and breakfast place.    

A bougainvillea tree in full bloom adorns the gate of the family compound.

I was fascinated with the smaller gate embellished with glass bull’s-eye stones, leading to Casa Mara. They look like decorative agimat.

The lanai has interesting old pieces and furniture (some designed by Raul), as well comfy daybeds with throw pillows, making it an ideal place for afternoon siesta. Its roof is fully covered with vines and thus vine droppings form part of the house – such a wonderful sight.

Those renting the main house will have access to the living room, kitchen and dining area, which are artistically decorated with artworks, paintings, wooden sculptures, bulols and capiz windows and drop lights. The open bedroom located at the second floor could accommodate ten persons. It opens to a veranda overlooking the garden up to the Palace in the Sky.

An annex room painted bright orange has a double four poster bed good for two persons.

On higher grounds of the compound are duplex cottage that could accommodate seven persons per room.

The garden setting of trees, grasses, vines and flowers, along with harmless animals, makes Casa Mara more appealing and relaxing. The plants provide a steady source of fresh air, thus making the place cooler even if it is already summer.  

The pineapple field beside the house is an added attraction.

Casa Mara may not have the amenities of a five-star hotel or resort but still it is one of Tagaytay’s hidden gems. It is a sanctuary perfect for the family and barkada or budget travellers on a retreat, get-together or weekend get-away. It is an idyllic place to think (or not to think), rejuvenate and smell the flowers. My brief stay at Casa Mara only proved that it is always a visual treat to live in an architect’s house. And that a garden is a friend you can visit anytime; and it will never judge you.

From Manila, Casa Mara can be reached by commute via Tagaytay-bound bus. Get off at Olivares, ride a jeepney going to People’s Park and get off at Tagaytay City Market. From the market, it is a 5 minute walking distance to the casa.

Casa Mara
Pag-ibig St., Brgy. Francisco
Tagaytay City
Tel. No.: 0922-8316341
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