MANILA, Philippines -- "My downsizing from a big five-bedroom home to a condo reels off a new chapter in my adult and widowed life. The whole process of downsizing was an exercise in detachment from material possessions accumulated through the years to just the basic and the elemental."
This was Boots Anson Roa speaking at the recent blessing of her new residence at Andrea North, Balete Drive corner N. Domingo, in New Manila. Her new place is an 86-square meter unit on the sixth level with a six square meter balcony. The two-hectare property is familiar to San Juan residents. This was the site of the Pepsi Cola plant. For the past two years, we would often drive by the place, and see signs of the development being done by Philippine Realty and Holdings until the place finally opened its doors. Today only 40 of the 320 units are occupied, says Boots, although very few remain unsold.
We have to admit that her decision to downsize caught us by surprise. We have always identified Boots with space and lots of rooms. Even after her husband Pete Roa passed away, the home was ever bustling with visiting grandchildren. Her US-based sister Vicky came over and stayed for months. But son Joey is the only semi-permanent fixture of the place. And there are the maids and the ever important secretary-assistant-Jill of all trades, Tutti. We were curious as to how she would manage.
As she toured us around, Boots gave a run-down of what her new environment offered. The roof deck has two major function rooms, gardens, a gazebo, twin Jacuzzis, and a kitchen. We attended Mass at the ground level function room and during dinner, we espied an almost Olympic-sized pool, a kiddie pool, and landscaped gardens. A gym will soon be serviceable in this area. Apparently, there is also a jogging trail which Boots uses during the early morning. This offers her a chance to socialize with neighbors who also get up early to walk their dogs. As pets are often banned in condos, we never did care for the condo lifestyle. But small animals are allowed here, so hurray for Andrea North!
Interiors of the condo unit of Boots were created by her designer niece Victoria Salviejo, who adopted the Eastern antique theme. The place is adorned with wall-sized mirrors which gives the illusion of more space. She also added cabinets and shelves for storage, put in a little office, and transferred Boots' choicest and best-loved furniture from the previous house. She brought in some of Boots' Asian furniture, which have been in storage, and bought very few new pieces.
Boots' 100-year old sofa, re-upholstered in green and gold, was matched with an ottoman, throw pillow accents, antique jars, and authentic Buddha statues. An old granite console table also does much to add character to the entire living area. A matching granite covered service table was ensconced in the built-in four sitter dinette, which is covered with an oversized glass panel. A framed mirror serves as a wall piece while the main décor is a center piece with orchid arrangement placed beside an authentic ostrich egg sitting on an ivory stand from Africa.
The master bedroom has a king-sized bed leaning against an antique oriental panel with embossed stones. There is a curio cabinet, oriental frames with encrusted stones, an Ethan Allen princess chair, and matching designs on drapes. The entertainment center from the former home is covered with additional mirrors. Boots says she often opens the windows at night to let the breeze enter, and so that she may wake up with the rising sun.
Weeks after the house blessing and house warming party, we spoke with Boots to check on how she was adjusting to her new place. After all, this was her first time to live in a condo. "Honestly," she tells us, "we don't miss the big house."
Apparently, downsizing has made Boots more independent and more adventurous. Various exploits during the past few weeks include riding the elevator to go home (she also fell asleep in the elevator after a particularly hectic day), driving herself to church after years of being chauffeured around, and getting caught by a cop for a traffic infraction. She now does the groceries herself, and we imagine cooking some meals herself. "It is a most liberating experience - having had the gumption and the will power to 'let go' of the excesses of our previous lifestyle. I will give more space and time to 'let God' manage my life. Downsizing to the condo has provided me a wonderful beginning."
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