Wednesday, December 3, 2008
I was traveling in the countryside yesterday and the expanse of space and the traditional way of living there caught my eyes. It reminds me of the Filipino concept of time and space which is infinite. It is neither numerical or measurable. When I asked direction, the person who answered me didn't express the distance by kilometers but with subjective words "malapit" (near) or " malayo (far).
I also noticed the traditional culture of Filipinos not to divide their land into private parcels but instead held a communal property where each villager could share in its agricultural or forest abundance.
Even the Filipino dwelling has no physical boundaries that separate one room from another.
The interior of the "bahay-kubo" (nipa hut) is truly multipurpose. It is a single space that transforms into a receiving room, sleeping room, kitchen, dining room or chapel, constantly adapting to allow whatever activity the room needs to accommodate at any particular moment during the day.
Meanwhile in the "bahay na bato" (stone house), spaces effortlessly flows from the living room, to the dining area and to the kitchen with arched entrances use to define one from the other. However in the multipurpose nature of Filipino homes, mats are laid out on the living room at night for the family and household to sleep in.
As a matter of fact, for Filipinos, space is not confined within one’s house. A party might temporarily take over the street, or a family business like a small store, or a repair shop. We would use the space for other activity that requires a larger area which isn't available in the house. Many instances we occupy the sidewalk, or a major part of the street especially during a wake or weddings.
Overlapping layers of space in the Filipino house respond to the cultural value. No Filipino want to live in isolation. It also responds to the tropical environment and we always allow air to circulate freely from one area to the next. We just love the open space and we also keep the natural environment surrounding the house in full view.
The spacelessness of a Filipino house is beguiling and seductive, like the sheer, filmy layers of the traditional baro’t saya or the barong tagalog where layers of gauze-like piña cover the Filipino body but allows air to circulate between the layers of almost transparent fabric.
And like the traditional Filipino house, the best is kept veiled from full view.