In no way is the house at 2650 Zamora a product of its architect alone, the gardens and interior spaces carry the creative stamp of his wife Marina Reyes Antonio. They complemented each other, with Pablo’s shyness balanced by Marina’s outgoing nature.
It was her sense of style that attracted to him to her after they had been introduced by mutual clients; he was the architect of Chief Justice Jose Yulo Sr. while Marina was the designer of Cecille Yulo. He was charmed by the way she had fixed her home and later said he could never have married someone who did not have an artistic eye for such things.
Born Marina del Rosario Reyes in Binondo, September 19, 1910 to Francisco Baptista Reyes and Adriana del Rosario, was the niece of Rafael Roces, who had married her father’s sister Inocencia Reyes. Her father’s other sibling was Nicanor Reyes who founded Far Eastern University. She was also a first cousin of brothers Alejandro Reyes Roces, National Artist for Literature, and Alfredo “Ding” Roces, a contemporary painter and writer. But Pablo Antonio was already the architect of the Roces clan even before he and Marina married.
Very often both architect and fashion designer shared clients.
Marina began her career in the 1930’s. She was one of the pioneers of pre-war ladies’ fashion, and in a career that spanned span of fifty years she would design Filipiniana and wedding gowns for some of Manila’s most prominent women.
Her clients have included Nini Quezon, Mrs. Cecilia Yulo, Mrs. Tessie Yulo, Mrs. Douglas Mac Arthur, writer Claire Booth Luce, Mrs. Ateta Gana, Mrs. Cecilia Magsaysay, Senator and Congresswoman Loren Legarda, the first Miss Philippines Chita Zaldarriaga-Arnaiz and many more.
Marina was known for her Filipiana gowns, and for her delicate embroidery, beadwork and hand painted designs. Her details were fine and intricate, and she would create roses from bias strips of organdy. Her silhouette was figure flattering and feminine.
She would always entertain her clients with merienda so that her designing career was as much social as it was a business. Brides became close friends and she would gift them with a christening gown when they had their first child.
Marina loved the garden, tending to it carefully with her longtime gardener Paquito. She enjoyed entertaining and cooking for family and friends. She would create her signature rimas (breadfruit) with her harvest from the garden, cooking it carefully so that it emerged like maron glace (candied chestnuts).
Marina’s mother had taught her that if one knew how to cook and to sew, one would never lack for anything and she made sure to pass these lessons on to her children and grandchildren.
Her passions for fashion, food and flowers were inherited by first born Malu Veloso also pursued a career in design, as did her granddaughters Vicky and Letlet Veloso. Her sons Luis (Chito) and Ramon were already handling landscaping jobs while they were still in college. Pablo Jr., Chito and Ramon became architects while Victor [now deceased] became an engineer and the youngest, Francis (Pancho) is a visual artist.
Marina passed away peacefully in 2006 at the age of 96, but her spirit lives on in Zamora’s lush gardens, in the display of her gowns in one of the rooms and in the atelier now used by her daughter Malu and granddaughter Letlet.
Joaquin, Nick. “Mr. F.E.U.: The Culture Hero That Was Nicanor Reyes.” Far Eastern University, Kyodo Printing Co., 1995.