The experienced Filipino
architect is familiar with the common folk beliefs and usually follows them
or applies these age-old guidelines in the planning of one's dream house.
Many of these beliefs are based on sound
planning practices that do not have to be overly emphasized. Like, for
example, orienting the building to take in the healthful effects of the rays
of the morning sun by having wide windows facing the rising sun to take in
the cleansing rays of sunlight during daybreak as well as to admit the
prevailing southeast breezes to cool your house.
It is more advantageous if two faces of the
house take in the morning sun. This can be achieved if a corner of the house
take in the morning sun. This can be achieved if a corner of the house faces
east. In fact, most educated Filipinos are of the belief that the more
windows your residence has (or the larger they are), the better the chances
of your house absorbing natural and spiritual graces.
In Bontoc, the front door of the house must face against the flow of a
nearby river according to ancient folk beliefs. In Romblon, the roof of the
house must slope following the direction of the incline of the nearby
mountains. In the Cordilleras, it is different. The ridge of the roof is
always positioned at right angles to the ridge of the mountain on which the
Among the Ibalois, a Benguet ethnic group in
the Cordilleras, it is customary to give ample space underneath their houses
by elevating their floors to accommodate the future tomb of the owner to
ensure perpetual guidance over the house the dead leaves behind.
If one is building a house within a family compound or between two
relatives, make sure that the roof is not higher than theirs, otherwise,
their lives will never progress or will always be worse. A sibling's house
must not be built so close to that of his parents such that rainwater from
the eaves of the main house pours onto the roof of the sibling.
In Southern Tagalog, posts are erected
following this procedure: posts are laid with their bottom ends at the
footing on the ground and the top ends pointing towards the east. The post
nearest the east is the first to be raised. The same procedure is followed
for the other posts, one after the other in a clockwise direction as one
reads the plan. This same clockwise manner of raising the posts is practiced
on the island of Romblon and the belief is that it will make the house
The Tausugs equate the building of a house to
the development of a fetus. They believe that the first to appear in a
woman's womb is the navel. Hence, the first post to be erected should be the
main post within the interior of the house. In the Cagayan Valley,
meanwhile, the first post to be raised is the one positioned nearest to the
northeast. But this is done after the footings have been sprinkled with
wine. The old folks of Bataan caution against having a solitary post in the
middle of a room. It is said to bring misfortune to the family. This belief
is also common in Tagalog areas and it is said that posts situated this way
augur a "heavily laden" life (mabigat ang kabuhayan). The Yakans do
not use crooked wooden posts especially the ones with knotholes in them
because they are said to symbolize death. In the older communities of
Bayambang, Pangasinan, it is commonly believed that termites (anay)
will not enter the house if the bottoms of all wooden posts are first
charred. Informed master carpenters, however, suggest that these bottoms not
just be charred but tarred as well. Others swear by the potency of rock salt
sprinkled generously in all footing excavations as preventive measures
against anay infestation.
Old people also cautions against cutting old
posts for reuse so as not to lose one's wealth.
An orientation towards the east is also required for stairs. Ilocanos
position their stairs so that they rise with the morning sun. To them, if it
were the other way around, meant turning one's back on fate. But builders in
Pandi, Bulacan, just like many typical Filipinos, believe that a stairway
facing east is considered bad luck because, they say, anything facing the
early sun dries up ahead of all others, and in the same token, wealth taken
into the house will dry up much faster.
If there is no way one can make the stairs
face east, at least make them face any nearby mountain. If one's lot abuts a
river, position the stairs in a way that they are facing upstream. This is
so in order that good luck from the house would never be washed away with
the river's flow. In the same way, if the proposed house is beside the sea,
or if one is building a beach house, plan the stairs in such a way that they
run parallel with the shore. If the stairs are perpendicular to the
shoreline, luck may flow in but also flow out with the tides.
Also, it is not advised to place
a large window in the wall directly facing the stairs so that good fortune
will not easily go out that window.
Most Western countries consider
it bad luck to walk under a ladder. Actually, this can be taken more as a
safety precaution than a superstition. Locally, one should not make a
passageway any area under the stairs. Tagalogs never use the space beneath
the stairs as a sleeping quarters. The underside of wooden stairs of Ilonggo
houses are usually completed covered not because of peeping Toms but because
the Old folks say so. For business establishments, especially the small
ones, the cashier or the place where money is kept should not be located
under the staircase. In homes, neither should rice be kept there because it
translates to treading on the grace of God whenever one goes up or down the
When planning a structure with
two or more storeys, the stairway should not be positioned at the center of
the structure so as not to divide the building into two equal parts.
It is believed that the dried
umbilical cord of a son or daughter of the house owner inserted in the
staircase will strongly bind the stringer with its supporting girder.
Oro, Plata, Mata
There are guidelines, too,
governing the number of steps in one's stairs. Starting with the first
landing, count the steps using the words oro (gold), plata
(silver), and mata (death). The perfect last step should be oro.
Ending up plata is not too bad either but, understandably, do not
ever end up with mata. This ruling is strictly observed especially if
it involves the first steps going into the house. If your home has a slight
elevation, choose four steps but never three.
This building belief is not
limited to stairs alone. It also applies to walkways that are made of
individual flagstones or the popular circular or square slabs of pebbled
concrete or even an entire concrete walkway or ramp that is divided into
sections by lines drawn onto the pavement itself, especially if they lead to
the main entrance of the house.
The Yakans of Mindanao, however,
believe in odd numbering of steps. They also require an odd number of
bedrooms. Chinese Filipinos, on the other hand, count their steps by
It is advised that doors should
not face each other. The people in the north associates this with the easy
passage of a coffin through two doors that directly face each other. Most
regions in the country also avoid positioning the main gate of the lot
opposite the main entrance of the house itself. In Sta. Maria and San
Miguel, Bulacan, however, wide doors facing each other are considered lucky,
especially if they lead to the terrace or garden. One's door also should not
directly face one's neighbor's to avoid future conflicts with the said
households and to avoid wrestling with each other for the possession of the
luck that passes in front of both your houses.
Sunken rooms, like basements are
looked at as pockets of caves where evil spirits can hide. It is balanced
off only when an exit lower than the said room is provided. Some Ilocanos do
not want basements altogether because of the belief that only coffins should
be found under the ground. Old folks of Sta. Maria, Bulacan advise that the
floors of the living and dining rooms must be of the same level. They say
the imaginary "ball of fortune" must be able to freely roll across both
floors. Overly ornate living and dining room ceilings, especially those with
cornices, moldings, and other superficial decorations are avoided as it
tends to make the ceiling look like a coffin. Even the "mansard" or flat
type of roof invented at the turn of the century are avoided as it reminds
people of a coffin.
Beds and Bedrooms
It is advised that one must plan
the doors of one's bedrooms in such a way that when it is opened, one would
face neither the foot nor head of the bed. There should always be ample
space between the door and the bed itself. Position the bed such that the
headboard does not rest against a window opening. Neither should you put any
bed under a cross beam, regardless of whether the beam is of wood or
concrete, and position the bed so that the occupant will not be lying
perpendicular to the beam. Overly strict homeowners do not have exposed
beams at all even if these are veneered with different materials.
For houses with second floors,
it should be observed that no drainage pipe runs inside or under the floor
where the bed is located. Drainage pipes contain unclean fluids associated
with bad energies which may affect the good spirits of the people sleeping
over these pipes.
Do not place bedrooms in the
basement portion of the house. It is always preferred (luck-wise) that the
bedroom floor is higher than the living room. Non-sleeping rooms like
library, den, foyer, storage, etc. can be at a lower level than that of the
Bright Dining Rooms
As anyone who knows Filipino
cuisine, Pampangos love to cook (and eat), so most of their dining rooms are
situated in the sunniest and brightest locations of the house. Ilocanos, on
the other hand, prefer subdued lighting because they consider eating a