BUILDING A HOME, BUILDING A LIFE
Home has always been more than just a few sets of walls. As I look around the condominium and see the space that I’ve lived in for the past five years, I’m reminded of life over the years—of making a mess over the kitchen sink while trying to prepare a midnight snack, of fighting over the remote control with my father who would much rather watch basketball, of the late nights studying and fretting. I remember peaceful moments too, of watching the sunset after a tiring commute, of dropping by the pool to swim at night and seeing the stars, of jogging my dog around the complex. All of these memories are all ingrained in this space that I can’t bear to leave—even if it takes me an hour to two hours to commute to and from university. They are all unique to this two bedroom unit in Parañaque that I cherish deeply.
The journey of settling in this unit had been a fraught one as it had been of downsizing— though I’d hate to use the term. We were planning to move out of a one-story, three bedroom bungalow and move closer to my high school. This was when we had discovered the DMCI property in Parañaque, Arista Place Condominiums. I had been, at first, very averse to the idea of living in a condominium as I had thought it would be too cramped and too small to serve all my needs. However, the longer I had lived here, the more I had come to realize that the entire property had become my home. There was no sense of constriction or congestion, as my living space slowly spilled out beyond the confines of my unit.
I had really started to realize that this place was slowly transition from house to home when I had started to bring over friends and family to the condominium. As such, when I leave my unit, I come to remember the late nights at the pool, quiet midday conversations by the clubhouse and even visiting another friend’s nearby unit and locking myself out, which is another story for another day. I can vividly recall one of the times my friends had visited the property in order to accomplish one of our school projects. It had been a role play of Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere and for our rehearsals, we kept on looking for locations within the condominium that fit our aesthetic. That’s when I and many of my friends realized that so much of the property looked like a picture-perfect paradise. The environment of all of the buildings made one feel at ease and calm in the midst of busy metropolitan life. It always felt like a vacation back to one’s own province to slow time down.
Home is not just a place to live, but rather a place to build. And for me specifically, it was the chance to build a community. I may come from a large family, but I am not particularly close to any of them. However, by becoming a part of the condominium’s—and at large, DMCI’s—community, I have come to relish the value of having a community to surround yourself. I find that living here exemplifies the Filipino notions of Bayanihan. We aid each other in fostering a safe and peaceful environment. It is all akin to a family compound, wherein having a shared space binds one tighter together and creates a tighter knit community.
Although, I’ve come to talk about how I enjoy and revel in the space and the amenities while living in a condominium thus far, I’ve also come to realize the joys of living in a condominium unit. This was all made clearer to me when I was watching Marie Kondo’s show and her focus on decluttering. According to Marie Kondo, everything that no longer sparks joy should be discarded from one’s life. It is through moving into this condominium unit that I was able to do it. I had always thought I needed bigger quarters or a bigger living room or a bigger bathroom, but when I realized how these were all merely excesses that I could live without. I came to appreciate how beneficial living in a unit truly is. Moreover, creating an atmosphere which is much more intimate has deepened my and my family’s relationship with each other. No one can really run away from each other due to being enclosed by the same 50 or so square meters, unlike with bigger homes—where one can always seek solitude away from each other. But rather through the limited space, we may face each other with all of our flaws and mistakes and learn to accept each other. It is hard to go asleep angry with a parent, a sibling or a child, when one lives in a small space with the other. I, for one, have found it easier to be closer to my family, both literally and metaphorically. If there’s one thing I learned living in a condominium, one can always live large in a smaller space.
So much of the past five years was trying to find a place to settle, a place that truly feels like home after what had seemed like a nomad’s journey. A house may be a few sets of walls here and there. But a home represents something much greater than that. It allows us to envision immense, untapped potential waiting to be fulfilled. It is the type of structure that makes us think of what piece of furniture could be moved to where, what to cook when guests are over or even what to watch and what to eat when we get home. It is the type of structure that makes us think of a future—be it the nearest future or the farthest. Now, as I reflect upon the often messy kitchen, the cluttered tables and the mismatched blankets, I am beyond proud to call this space my home with all its flaws. Because I, with my friends and family, had built it up with love, patience and the greatest memories. It is the place, regardless of where I am, that first comes to mind when I think about my where I would receive my first paycheck, park my first car or buy my own pieces of furniture to decorate my home. It is the place where I envision inviting my friends and their families, when we’ve all grown older and wiser. Regardless of wherever I may be, I keep on coming back home.
There is this one moment which I feel encapsulates what DMCI emphasizes—tranquil living within urban life—was the moment I had come home from school from where we had just seen a double rainbow, a slightly uncommon phenomenon, to see that it still hadn’t vanished from the sky. I plopped myself on a chair, took a few minutes off my day and just stared at it. And all at once I had felt all sorts of emotions, from relaxed to happy to excited to calm to immensely grateful. By having created a home in a space I’m incredibly proud of, I wake up every single day feeling that same range of emotions.