Villa Bridgerton

From gorgeous Regency-era sets to butlers and handmaids, Netflix brings its hit-series Bridgerton to the Philippines in a 90-year old mansion built by National Artist for Architecture, Pablo S. Antonio. Known as the Residence of Doña Narcisa “Sisang” Buencamino-de Leon of LVN Pictures, this home in Broadway, New Manila, is Architect Antonio’s earliest standing residential work.

In 1931, only a year into his official practice after completing his studies in London, Antonio made his first two homes across modern day Metro Manila. The first was the Residence of Col. and Mrs. Manuel Verzosa in Manila which was destroyed during the Japanese Occupation.

A noteworthy feature of the home-turned-Villa Birdgerton is its use for the furnishings that have been a part of its interiors since its beginnings. The rooms and layout remain closely true to the original – with subtle renovations over time. Nevertheless, this structure in a historic area for Manila’s old prestige stands the test of time, and is a prime example of effective adaptive reuse for heritage houses.

One may also draw comparisons for Antonio’s career development between this home and the rest of Antonio’s remaining residential works–including his very own home, the Pablo S. Antonio Residence in Zamora Street, Pasay, that was designed nearly two decades later with the then-newer trends of the prairie style.

Villa Bridgerton is a limited-time set to promote the show. For more information, visit:

Photographs taken by Joshua Carlos Barrera.

The Sign of the Rabbit Book Launch

Vicky Veloso-Barrera is one member of the Antonio clan that has many connections to the Zamora home. Apart from being Pablo S. Antonio’s eldest grandchild, and so part of family celebrations at this home, friends from college and beyond remember the many parties she and sister Letlet threw at Zamora.

At the invitation of her grandmother Marina, also lived there for several months before her marriage to Roberto V. Barrera, and even celebrated her despedida de soltera here.
They have not forgotten the sweet scent of dama de nochethat greeted them in the evenings during their courtship.

As a writer then, it’s hardly surprising that she used the Zamora as one of the settings of her children’s adventure book series, The Sign of the Rabbit, especially from Books 3 to 7.

Merchandise by Vibrant Art Studios and Vicky Veloso Barrera’s The Sign of the Rabbit book series at Pablo S. Antonio’s Home. Image by Joshua Barrera.

Naturally, she has had a book launching event at this home

Cooking Classes

From time to time, Vicky Veloso-Barrera has held cooking classes for adults at the Zamora house.

Photo courtesy of Vicky Veloso-Barrera.
Photo courtesy of Vicky Veloso-Barrera.
Photo courtesy of Vicky Veloso-Barrera.

While at Tiny Kitchen, her 24 year old cooking school, the focus is on children, the Zamora house dining room makes a perfect venue for cooking demonstrations where a limited number of students watch up close and then dine on the dishes prepared afterwards.

Pablo Severo Antonio : Life and Legacy

I have always been a Modernist ever since I took up architecture. Some of the so-called modern works are genuine and some are false. The false sacrifice utility for design. The genuine combine both utility and design effectively.

Pablo Severo Antonio

Avant-garde, daring, an iconoclast, and one who in the words of Rodrigo D. Perez III (2018), “aimed for boldness and vigor”, Pablo Severo Antonio, Sr. pioneered modern Philippine Architecture and was the foremost Modernist during his time. His architecture adapted Art Deco, which at its introduction was considered radical in contrast to Neoclassicism and Revivalist movements that prevailed under the earlier years of the American regime.

Antonio embraced the simplicity of surfaces, bold shapes and forms, and sleek lines of the streamlined motif. His works merged inside and outside space – creating a singularity between built environment and nature. Notable traits in Antonio’s portfolio are the presence of indoor gardens and ponds, slanted panoramic windows, and sunscreens to achieve functions of natural lighting and ventilation.

Portrait of Pablo Severo Antonio. Photo from house archives.

With a career spanning four decades, Antonio designed numerous structures across Metro Manila and the regions. From the campus buildings and emboldened facade of the Nicanor Reyes Hall in Far Eastern University Manila to the lavish movie theaters and railways reaching Baguio and Bicol region, Antonio provided many Filipinos an experience of adaptive modernity and the appreciation of the country’s flora – of which a number still stand today.

His architectural legacy is a reflection of the life Antonio desired and endured in his yesteryears. Antonio’s story is one of courage, perseverance, and triumph: beginning with a childhood of hardship, then reaching artistic stardom, and to being remembered as a National Artist and family man.

Early Life

Antonio was born on January 25, 1901 in Binondo, Manila to Apolonio Antonio, at 60, a maestro de obras (master-builder), painter, and sculptor, and Maria Severo, at only 16 years of age. He was the youngest child and only son of the couple, and had three older siblings: 2 half-sisters from his father’s two previous widowed-marriages, and a full sister named Trinidad.

At the age of 3, the young Antonio lost his mother who died in childbirth. After being in the care of his father for nine years, Apolonio died at 72. Antonio at the age of 12 was orphaned together with his siblings and struggled to complete his education while working during the day. 

A Turning Point to Europe

Antonio wore bakya slippers to school and used any materials he could find to sketch his surroundings.

He continued to work in the daytime and attend school at night. He worked as a draftsman for the Bureau of Public Works. With his earnings, he studied architecture and structural engineering at the Mapua Institute of Technology. Antonio, however, dropped out of school due to financial difficulties. 

Antonio left the Bureau of Public Works and worked as a draftsman for the Santa Clara Lumber and Construction Company, the first Filipino architectural firm accredited by the American government that oversaw the construction of exemplary neoclassical structures like the Old Legislative Building (now the National Museum of Fine Arts) and Post Office Building.

In 1927, Don Ramon Arevalo, engineer and founder of Santa Clara Lumber and Construction Company, funded Antonio’s scholarship at the University of London. Antonio graduated in 1930 with a degree in architecture upon completing a five-year course in just three years.

Pablo S. Antonio in Berlin, Germany, 1930. Photo from house archives.

1930s : The Mark of an Iconoclast

The 1930s was the decade Antonio claimed his mark as an iconoclast of design and artistic vision. Moreover, the growth of his clientele and publicity of his works led him to spearhead bigger projects and eventually start a family.

Drawing on his observations and studies of the architectural landscapes in Europe, Antonio returned to the Philippines along with his contemporaries Juan F. Nakpil, Andres Luna de San Pedro, and Fernando Ocampo, who are classified today as “Second Generation Architects.” He experimented with Art Deco motifs on pre-war residences in Pasay City and New Manila.

The Ideal Theater, built in 1933. Photo from house archives.

In 1932, Antonio was registered Philippine Architect Number 36 after passing the licensure examination. The following year, Antonio completed his first major work: the Ideal Theater, which stood at Rizal Avenue of the Santa Cruz district in Manila. This started his lifelong portfolio in designing cinemas for the public at a golden era of film.

Pablo S. Antonio was one of the first, few sensible architects who exploited the wonder material of the time (concrete and steel) to their fullest capacities.

Rodrigo D. Perez III,

By the latter part of the decade, Antonio’s recognition as the country’s most sought-after architect paved the way for the realization of two of his major works: Far Eastern University commissioned by Nicanor Reyes Sr., and the White Cross Preventorium. He served as a member of the Board of Examiners for Architects with Andres Luna de San Pedro and Carlos Barretto from 1936 to 1937. He also taught at the University of Santo Tomas College of Architecture from 1938 to 1940. 

1930s residence of Justice and Mrs. Antonio Villa-real at 620 Vito Cruz Street (now Pablo Ocampo). Photo from house archives.

Antonio then met and married Marina del Rosario Reyes in Shanghai, 1938, who was introduced by Jose Yulo and Cecilia Araneta Yulo – clients of the Architect and his wife. The couple had six children: Malu, Pablo Jr., Antonio Victor, Luis, Ramon, and Francis. 

Latter Works and Awards

Bureau of Tourism, built in 1940. Photo from house archives.

Antonio continued to design buildings for FEU, residences, theaters, and more branches of PNB – to which he worked as in-house architect during the Japanese Occupation from 1942 to 1944. After the liberation of Manila and the end of the second World War, he focused on rehabilitation projects.

In 1949, he built his family home in Zamora Street, Pasay, which subsequently became the model for the Manila Polo Club and the Residence of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Manning, the first house in Forbes Park, Makati in the same year. By this time, Antonio’s interpretation of Art Deco merged with Mid-Century and Prairie styles – the rawness of concrete and stone masonry inspired by the works of Frank Lloyd Wright.

The Manila Polo Club in McKinley Road, Makati. Photo from house archives.
The living room of the Antonio residence in 2650 Zamora, Pasay. Photo from house archives (taken by Tess Puzon Rivera).

With an acclaimed career, Antonio became a catalyst in guiding younger generations of architects and moving the field forward. He served as President of the Philippine Architect Society from 1942 to 1946, as a member of the Board of Examiners for Architects from 1945 to 1946, as a member together with Juan Nakpil on the Board of the Philippine Institute of Architects in 1949 to 1950, and Vice-Chairman of the Philippine Council of Architects which was sponsored by the UNESCO Commission of the Philippines from 1956 to 1957.

Antonio received numerous awards. In 1952, he was named Architect of the Year by the Philippine Institute of Architects (PIA). He was also the recipient of the first National Award of Merit for Architecture, an eight-year award from 1946 to 1954 granted by the Philippine Government. 

Lasting Impact on Philippine Architecture

On June 15, 1974, Antonio passed away at the age of 72 to a heart attack. Two years afterwards, he was posthumously bestowed the Order of the National Artist for Architecture at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. 

His widow, Marina Reyes-Antonio, joined his fellow awardees Napoleon V. Abueva, Lamberto V. Avellana, Leonor O. Goquingco, Nick Joaquin, and Jovita Fuentes to receive the medal.

The 1976 Order of the National Artist for Architecture for Pablo S. Antonio cites:

Pablo S. Antonio is in the judgement of his peers one of the true creative forces in the development of Philippine architecture.

In the field of residential architecture, he had few rivals. In public architecture, he was the “architect’s architect.” In both, he put strong impress of a powerful personality, distinguished by elegance, meticulous craftsmanship, utility, and functional design.

All parts of his design fell into place—neatly and firmly. No part obtruded, no part diverted our vision to the neglect of other parts. He viewed architecture as a unity, an integral creation the sum of whose parts was true not only of Pablo S. Antonio himself or of his individual works but, on reflection, of his entire life work. There is no single masterpiece in his impressive works, they are all of a uniform and consistent excellence.

Like most dedicated artists, Pablo Antonio was a zealot in defense of his artistic theories and practice. Time has proven his worth: his works shall outlast many a rhyme, durable as stone, permanent as the spirit of art itself. Pablo S. Antonio’s creations are unique and distinct contributions to Philippine architecture and to the developing culture of the nation.

In these achievements, the country takes pride.”

On to the Future : Built-Legacies and Family

On Buildings

In 2007, four of his works: Far Eastern University, the Manila Polo Club, the White Cross Orphanage-Quezon Preventorium, and his Pasay Residence, received National Artist Architectural Markers by the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and the Philippine Institute of Architects (PIA).

Built between 1938 and 1950, the Far Eastern University (FEU) campus is flanked by Quezon Boulevard (formerly Colgante Avenue) in the north and Lerma in the south. The buildings in the complex, characterized by geometric lines and forms, are considered to be one of the largest ensembles of Art Deco architecture in the country.

Cultural Center of the Philippines (Marker)

Far Eastern University Manila in particular epitomizes Filipino Deco. The campus is the largest complex for Art Deco in the country, and has been recognized in 2005 with the Asia-Pacific Cultural Heritage Award from UNESCO. The late Architect Augusto F. Villalon states that it is “Manila’s outstanding urban Art Deco ensemble.” It also was described as the ‘most futuristic’ academic institution for its then-new building technology of concrete and steel blended with the tropical environment. 

Pablo S. Antonio’s contribution to Philippine architecture marked the beginning of a pivotal movement in the country’s aesthetic history and social milieu – a statement pushing for Filipino independence by claiming its own modernity past American governance. By taking in style references from around the world and adding a local touch for the people, he successfully brought a new perspective in creating the modern Filipino home and living: a place that is interconnected yet private, lighthearted, festive and equally respectful to natural surroundings.

In light of climate change, Antonio’s design philosophy constituting local materials and motifs, natural cross-ventilation and lighting, and the grandeur in simplicity is relevant in today’s search for organic living space. His works prove that man and industry can co-exist beautifully with nature – creating an ecosystem where both spheres flourish without the need of one taking over the other. 

On His Life, Creativity and Family

Antonio did not only leave his mark on built marvels, but also left an intimate impact onto younger generations. He, along with his wife Marina, were lovers of the arts and encouraged the exploration of creativity. Many among their lineage of descendants – from children to grandchildren and beyond – have pursued careers in the arts and design. Malu, their only daughter, followed her mother’s footsteps and became a well-known fashion designer. In carrying their father’s legacy, Pablo Jr., Luis, and Ramon became well-known architects. Francis, the youngest, pursued his practice in painting and sculpture. And the late Antonio Victor, was an accomplished engineer who passed away in 1999. From there, their grandchildren became architects, interior designers, fashion designers, and artists alike.

Antonio was a superstar in building fancy and extraordinary palaces for entertainment – the cinemas. Yet, in contrast to his persona, he was a shy, quiet, gentle, and humble man. The White Cross Preventorium was a building close to his heart because of his childhood as an orphan. 

As a father and grandfather, his family recalls that he loved desserts and listening to his favorite composers like Frederic Chopin and Pyotr Illych Tchaikovsky. His influences from his time in London have become defining traits in his family – the love for marmalade, scones, biscuits, and high tea. 

Even in decades after his passing, Pablo S. Antonio’s spirit lives as long as the fragments of his built-legacies – his remaining structures – continue to stand proudly today for the Filipino people.


Lico, Gerard. “Art and Cinema: Popcorn Palaces.” Art Deco in the Philippines, Loures Montinola, 117-129, Art Post Asia, 2010.

Lico, Gerard. “The Life, Struggles, and Triumphs of Pablo S. Antonio: A Modernist Pioneer and Iconoclast.” The Architectural Legacy of Pablo S. Antonio, 1901-1975, 6-10, Reyes Publishing Inc., 2013.

Montinola, Lourdes. “Preface.” Art Deco in the Philippines, 8-11, Art Post Asia, 2010.

Noche, Manuel Maximo Lopez del Castillo. “Public Buildings and Structures: The Art Deco of Commercial Architecture.” Art Deco in the Philippines, Lourdes Montinola, 105-113, Art Post Asia, 2010.

Noche, Manuel Maximo Lopez del Castillo. “The Railway Architecture of Pablo S. Antonio.” The Architectural Legacy of Pablo S. Antonio, 1901-1975, 68-75, Reyes Publishing Inc., 2013.

Perez III, Rodrigo D. “American Traditions and Transformations in Philippine Architecture (1900 Onward).” CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art Digital Edition. Updated by Rene B. Javellana, 2018.

Perez III, Rodrigo D. “Philippine Architecture.” CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art Digital Edition. Updated by Rene B. Javellana, 2018.

Roces, Alfredo. “Pablo Antonio, A Sketch.” The Architectural Legacy of Pablo S. Antonio, 1901-1975, 2-5, Reyes Publishing Inc., 2013.

Veloso-Barrera, Vicky. “In Search of My Grandfather’s Legacy: Pablo S. Antonio: National Artist for Architecture.” Filnet Art Series, Sylvia Montilla, 2021.

Villalon, Augusto F. “Public Buildings and Structures: Far Eastern University Campus: Manila’s outstanding urban Art Deco ensemble.” Art Deco in the Philippines, Lourdes Montinola, 56-81, Art Post Asia, 2010.

Fish Ponds

It wasn’t enough for the nature-loving Pablo Antonio to have his home surrounded by gardens and to have a number of pocket gardens inside his home. he was also fond of ponds.

The in-door fish pond in the living room. Photo from house archives.

The ponds inside and outside the home add to the serenity created by breezes rustling leaves and birdsong. Every so often a there’s a splash of water as koi take a flip in the water. In Antonio’s day, the ponds were also home to a number of turtles.

Between the living room and the garden: inclined screen windows overlook a pond once home to many turtles in Antonio’s time. Photo from house archives (taken by Tess Puzon Rivera).

The screen roofing over the indoor pond concealed pipes that created artificial rain, cooling down the home on hot days.

Screens roofing over the little garden and fish pond. Photo by Joshua Barrera.

Veloso: Malu and Letlet

In retrospect of Philippine fashion since the 1930s and 40s, the Veloso name certainly has left a mark among an older generation of designers and likewise a lifetime following of patrons. From names like Malu Antonio-Veloso, to her daughters Letlet and Vicky, the clan had become pioneers in ready-to-wear during the 80s. They also have built careers on bridal wear and bespoke design.

Letlet Veloso, Marina R. Antonio, and Malu Veloso. Photo from house archives.

They were of a family of designers – following the footsteps of the matriarch, Marina R. Antonio, and getting inspired by the built sites of Pablo Sr. himself. The Pasay residence has been their venue for creation and presentation. Hence, the works from thread and fabric worn by clientele around the country and even the world are products from the ancestral home.

Today, Malu and Letlet Veloso continue to run the fashion label.

An ensemble of pastel pink dresses by Malu Veloso at Tesoros. Photo courtesy of Letlet Veloso.
Ingrid Adams models a designed by Malu Veloso. Photo courtesy of Letlet Veloso.

Malu Veloso

The eldest child and only daughter of Pablo Sr. and Marina, Malu took inspiration from her mother’s career growing up. She began with children’s clothes then ventured into christening and Filipiniana as her clientele expanded. Her designs embrace simplicity in shapes and cuts, dainty details in little flowers and beading, and mellow colors like pastels and creams.

While seeing her mother’s works as bold and vivacious takes on the Filipiniana, Malu sees her style as lighthearted, shedded, and let’s the form and color shine without the need of heavy detailing.

A black tube gown with embroidered white flower by-hand detailing by Letlet Veloso at the Yellow Room. Photo by Joshua Barrera.

Letlet Veloso

Being a daughter of Malu, a grandchild of a design couple, and a niece of many designers and architects alike, Letlet entry into fashion was simply by growing up within its scene. She started her career with her sister Vicky who is now an author, culinarian, and chief researcher behind her grandfather’s architectural works. Their first store and atelier was in a Protacio garden home built by Antonio – which was nearby the 2650 Zamora home.

For the designer, her career has long been all about timeless and romance in dress-making. By permanence, she designs to follow trends but maintain a visual identity and provide comfort and confidence among women for all ages and sizes. She places emphasis on embroidery and print – often using floral and insect motifs like the works of Elsa Schiaparelli. Aside from womenswear per se, she further creates jewelry, shawls, and designer masks as well as dabbling in merchandising.

Necklaces, handbags, and shawls for sale at the Pablo S. Antonio Home. Photo by Joshua Barrera.
Models pose in the garden wearing dresses by Letlet Veloso. Photo courtesy of Letlet Veloso.

For the mother and daughter team, the Pablo S. Antonio home has been an ongoing source of their creativity. Drawn from the patterns of flowers blooming and plants stemming from the ground up, their love for the home and garden is woven into clothing.

Their recent notable fashion shows were held at The Podium mall in Mandaluyong in 2008, the Manila Polo Club in 2010, and smaller, intimate salon shows at their very home like Love, Marina in 2017.

In 2019, the Veloso fashion house launched their collaboration with Tesoros Handicrafts Store.

Featured Article

Something Old, Something New. by Joseph L. Garcia, Business World, October 28, 2019.


Bungalows became popular among architects in the Philippines during the early postwar years because of the suburban development trends across towns and cities in California. These types of homes were spacious and cost less to construct.

The living room of Antonio’s bungalow residence is open and enhances its ‘grand’ feel. Photo from house archives (taken by Tess Puzon Rivera)

When one steps into a bungalow, its open-floor design gives a cozy atmosphere and flexibility for interior design. At the home of Pablo S. Antonio, the wooden beamed and angled roof in the living room help expand its relaxing peripheral views from various vantage points.

Inclined windows are a defining characteristic in Antonio’s architecture. Aside from providing panoramic views, these were designed so rainwater would not enter the house.

Multiple spots for sitting to strike conversations or simply enjoy the space. Photo from house archives (taken by Tess Puzon Rivera).

Moreover, the arrangement of furnishings and functions of rooms have changed multiple times. For instance, the White Room displaying gowns today was originally the kitchen then turned into a bedroom. These actions were mainly executed by the Architect’s wife, Marina.

“It feels like a resort,” Malu Antonio-Veloso, the resident and daughter of the Architect exclaims. Photo from house archives (taken by Tess Puzon Rivera)

Antonio’s take on the structure impressed clients and visitors upon setting foot on the living room. One notable visit was by Jack Manning, who commissioned the Architect to design the relocated Manila Polo Club in 1949. In the same year, he also built Manning’s house, the first home ever built in Forbes Park. For nearly two years, the residence of Jack Manning had no neighbors.

From there, Antonio continued designing many of the original houses in the subdivision such as the Hans Kasten, Perez-Rubio, Marcos Vidal Roces, Villanueva, Brodie, Florence, Gueeslin, and McMicking residences.


Veloso-Barrera, Vicky. “In Search of My Grandfather’s Legacy: Pablo S. Antonio: National Artist for Architecture.” Filnet Art Series, Sylvia Montilla, 2021.

Furniture by Ernest Korneld

The furniture at the living room of Pablo S. Antonio’s home were designed by Ernest Korneld. Korneld was an Austrian-Jewish architect who resided in Manila. A prominent name in the local scene during the post-war years, he is notably cited for designing the reconstruction of Temple Emil, the country’s first Synagogue which stood in Taft Avenue.

Home, garden, and entertainment all in one space. Photo from house archives (taken by Tess Puzon Rivera).
Leafy prints and the slender fingers of wood help create a dreamy atmosphere. Photo from house archives (taken by Tess Puzon Rivera).

The chairs are sturdy yet airy due to their slender fingers of wood. The cushions and pillows are of green floral prints. These organic and floral motifs contrast yet beautifully complement the home’s original tiles, selections of geometric glass tables, and the bold lines and forms of wooden beams and white columns.

Chairs with hatching flowing lines facing a table with a circular glass surface and a hexagonal wooden pedestal. Photo from house archives (taken by Tess Puzon Rivera)

Even up to today, these well-preserved furnishings are comfortable for family and guests to enjoy an experience of living in the home.


Veloso-Barrera, Vicky. “In Search of My Grandfather’s Legacy: Pablo S. Antonio: National Artist for Architecture.” Filnet Art Series, Sylvia Montilla, 2021.

The Doors

At the door with studded detailings. Photo by Tess Puzon Rivera.

One evening, Pablo and Marina were heading to a party. On the way, they spotted the doors on a truck that had been dismantled from a nearby damaged building. The couple stopped the truck to purchase the doors, and turned back to place the door on their newly built Pasay residence in 2650 Zamora.

Pablo and Marina never attended the party. Instead, they gave the wooden studded doors with their own material history, a new home.

The doors blend with the style of the living room. Photo by Tess Puzon Rivera.

A Pair of Peacocks

In the early 2000s, the garden was home to two peacocks – a male and a female. They were gifted to Marina R. Antonio by her son Luis (Chito). The two roamed freely and boasted their vibrant trains of eyelike patterns. Although they laid eggs in the hopes of continuing a pet lineage at the home, it was unfortunate that none ever hatched.

The pair of peacocks in a cage. Photo from family archives.
For a time, a fence stood on the far edge of the garden where the peacocks stayed. Image from family archives.

In memory of the dwellers, artists Joshua Barrera and Nigel Villaceran created pieces depicting them for the September 2017 exhibition and salon fashion show, Love, Marina.

A brass sculpture by Nigel Villaceran and an ink painting by Joshua Barrera depicting the peacocks, commissioned for an exhibition at the home. Photo by Joshua Barrera.