Thank you, Mr. Roald Dahl for this eye-opener. I find it most truthful after discovering this charming treasure in Pasay City. For years I’ve always equated my own city with crowded neighborhoods and the sticky reputation of being (once) the red-light district of Metro Manila.
Then magic happened.
Sometime in May this year, my balikbayan cousin Aida wished she could connect with a long unheard-of friend before going back to San Diego, CA with her husband Bill. Her friend, Letlet Veloso, is a well-known fashion designer and I was confident that locating her would be a cinch. I volunteered to find her. In a matter of days, Bill and Aida met with her in a Pasay address ─ with some relatives, including me, in tow.
The house on 2650 Zamora St., declared an architectural legacy by a National Artist by the previous administration, was built in 1948 by Pablo S. Antonio, National Artist for Architecture (1976). It has enjoyed much media coverage for being an “organic” house, and the perfect model for “eco-friendly” and “less is more” even before these became popular lifestyle expressions.
The ancestral house has many sitting areas that provide eye-soothing views of the greenery outside. The effect is so calming, I could sit around this place all day! Please read the related articles by Mr. Pablo Tariman and Ms. Marge Enriquez to know more about the National Artist and his architectural style.
The only daughter of Pablo S. Antonio, fashion designer Malu Veloso, has taken on the task of maintaining the house. Ms. Malu’s daughters Vicky and Letlet, themselves fashion designers of note, complete three generations of style mavens starting from Doña Marina Antonio, Malu’s mother. To help in the upkeep of the property, Ms. Malu repurposed it into a garden café and called it My Mother’s Garden, as a fitting tribute to her mother. Cool and restful, the place has become a popular foodie destination, especially among couples who are celebrating romantic milestones or those simply wanting to enjoy special moments with family and friends. In February this year, it was chosen by ABS-CBNnews.com as one of the most romantic restaurants in Manila.
As a niche restaurant, My Mother’s Garden is a standout.
An interesting discovery came in a platter with chopped onions, cucumber, tomatoes, ginger, ground nuts, etc. The idea was to put a little bit of everything into the cado leaves, drizzle with tamarind sauce, and roll using the leaves as wrap. So refreshing and it does a good job of cleansing the palate, making diners ready for seconds. They grow cado plants in the garden, too. Then finally ─ after sips of fresh juices and a nice serving of their homemade ice cream ─ the dessert cart! The atelier that houses some gowns and many fabulous creations of the Veloso women is also a treat for fashionistas. I’m more of a fashion disaster, but I found the prices irresistible. I went home with a couple of long-strand necklaces and that purple bag. 🙂 No less than the Dalai Lama once said, “Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.” Fair warning: My Mother’s Garden may make you rethink this advice and go back to this oasis in the city a second, third, perhaps several times.
My Mother’s Garden is a by-reservations-only dining place. Check out its Facebook page at