A Home of Fashion and Art

Art is central to Antonio’s family and home. His father, Apolonio, was the architect’s first mentor and the source of inspiration in pursuing a career that envisioned worlds through art and design. His wife, Marina Reyes, designed romantic dresses for the ladies of Manila’s prestige, and at the same time decorated the house’s interiors. By following his father’s creative footsteps and being together with a spouse whose bespoke career revolved around fashion and entertainment, Antonio lived a life surrounded by art. And his experiences would be passed down – reflected in his descendants’ endeavors and the house’s well-kept artistic environment.

The house became Antonio’s workspace and his wife’s atelier. Their children and grandchildren continued the function by not only creating their crafts on-site, but on occasion hosting salon-styled fashion shows and gatherings that celebrated the family’s works of art.

Designs by three generations: gowns by Marina Reyes-Antonio, Malu Antonio-Veloso, and Letlet Veloso at the White Room, which was the home’s original kitchen then became a bedroom. Image by Joshua Barrera.

In 2008 the home was promoted as the Garden Room which began to transform old bedrooms and lounges into couture and bridal showrooms for the portfolio of Malu & Letlet Veloso, a label run by Antonio’s daughter and granddaughter. Art and antique collections including watercolor paintings by Edgar Doctor, both permanent and for sale, were also displayed in hallways – making the home a small, alternative art institution.

Art that enhances the tropical feel. Image by Joshua Barrera.

Yet, the family has always aspired to push the boundaries of adaptive use in a heritage site – a dream for the house to neither be simply known as the dwelling built and lived by a National Artist nor an atelier of the Veloso fashion clan. By looking at the bigger picture of things, an insight arose: the house is a place where art is nurtured and shall thrive. 

It was in 2017 when the Pablo Antonio Ancestral Home Project, an initiative consisting of family members and community of creatives, historians, heritage advocates, and enthusiasts, came together to launch the residence’s art spaces – a revival of the home’s underlying roles and practices like that of an art gallery and museum.

Fabrics, shawls, and accessories by Malu Antonio-Veloso. Image by Joshua Barrera.
A former master bedroom-turned-gallery and dining area. Image by Joshua Barrera.

Beginning with what family refers to as the ‘Yellow Room’, a master’s bedroom with a foyer converted into an air-conditioned dining area for My Mother’s Garden, it became the room for exhibiting and selling fine art. This commemorated the opening of the first art show on Antonio’s death anniversary, 10th of June, entitled HEARTH: Heritage and Art at the Pablo Antonio Home.

HEARTH featured the works of printmaker Pandy Aviado and young emerging artists, which included Antonio’s great-grandchildren. Later in the year and following the exhibit’s success, a second edition alongside a family-fashion show paying tribute to the works and house contribution of Marina Reyes-Antonio took place in September, her birth month.

From then on, the Pablo S. Antonio Home hosted many more events such as exhibits, art markets, workshops, book launches, and fashion shows – continuing the site’s story as a home for creativity, art and design. Indeed, its rooms became a House of Dreamers.

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Published by Joshua Carlos Barrera

Joshua Carlos Barrera is a visual artist and art manager based in the Philippines. His artistic practice is a play of Pointillism, Cubism, techniques in Chinese and Japanese ink painting, and Philippine ethnic patterns. Drawn from family, travels, and love for video game concepts, his works intersect themes of heritage, fantasy, nature, fashion, and city living – imprinting a unity of fragmented ideas. Aside from creating artwork, he loves to collect art and toys, take snapshots, and travel around the world to see galleries, museums, cultural sites, nature, and great big cities.

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