Philippine Daily Inquirer
by Constantino C. Tejero

photos by Romy Homillada




Paraiso ng Liwanag in Norzagaray, Bulacan, was founded on the kindness of strangers. It sprawls on a 2.5-hectare lot donated by Meralco.

All structures and halls have been built from donations of private individuals and corporations. The music room, for instance, was sponsored by singer-composer Jose Mari Chan; the meditation room by Ayala Corp.

Constructed for P85 million, with a capacity of 200, this Bantay Bata Children’s Village has six cottage clusters; a kindergarten; a home nursing care; an organic farm and poultry; an administrative building with offices, dormitories, clinics and seminar halls.


Architect Ning Encarnacion Tan’s lively overall design is imposing yet blends well with the environment. The off-white three story structures, even the tiled pathways and colorful playground, adapt tot the undulations of the rolling landscape.

From the look of it, so spic and span, one wouldn’t associate the place with violence and dark secrets. But here are housed 99 victims of physical and sexual abuse.



Inaugurated in November last year, the village is still unfinished. More donations are needed to put the finishing touches to the landscape architecture, construct a swimming pool, and add four more cottage clusters.

The newest addition is the toddler’s playroom; a project of the Lifestyle Network undertook to celebrate its fifth anniversary.

Designed by architect Popi Laudico, it is a sunshiny, asymmetrical, 60 sq.m. room with narra flooring, walls and ceiling painted a soft yellow, and curtains of yellow abaca gauze stirring in the breeze.

Cool and stimulating

Arranged on the sides are 30 chairs, a table and shelves of playthings. All the furniture pieces are narra.

There’s a playhouse of pink sheer buntal draping in the middle of the room, and a tent of blue cotton gauze in one corner. The toddlers play under these dreamy canopies.

“This is not really a playroom but a therapy room for ages 5 and below,” says Laudico. “Para kumalma sila, para masaya sila, and therapy should be positive. So we have pink, yellow, blue – but more of the shade than the actual color – cool, relaxing, but at the same time stimulating, para hindi sila makatulog.”

The room’s sections are designed fro one on one or group therapy of pre-kindergarten kids. Though only 15 attend the session, the whole area is meant for 30.

“They spend 1-2 hours in the morning here, that’s why I make use of the sunlight,” continues Laudico. “It is a morning room, so hindi ko talaga binago ang yellow (painting of the wall and ceiling). We consulted the psychologist on this.”

A graduate of the University of the Philippines, Laudico has been used to designing buildings, houses, stores and restaurants, yet this little room still posed a challenge.



“This used to be a spare room with a weird shape,” she says. “Gagawin ko ang kwarto from scratch. So architectural pa rin, and not just a job for an interior designer.”

She designed the place in one day and executed it in a week.

Natural and Organic

Another challenge was to realize the concept based on the philosophy of German educator Rudolf Steiner and his study of spirituality and anthroposophy. The Waldorf-Steiner method is being used in the education of these children.

“The parameter is that, we use only natural and organic materials,” says Laudico. “No plastic as much as possible.:

Thus, the furnishings of wood, mats and baskets of natural materials, ceramic pieces, soft toys and pillows and soft cloth draping.

“I chose the playthings,” she continues. “These are therapy dolls of cotton, with no faces, so the children would just have to imagine how they’d look.”

Even the playhouse is imaginary. With no defined features, it’s just a strip of clothing draped pyramidically on a wooden frame.

“They will just have to use their imagination,” she says. “It can be turned into a kitchen, a bedroom, sala or dining area – kung saan mo gusto ang stove, saan ang kama. I took the suggestion and guideline from their therapist.”

Donations came from Cardrian Builders, Ace Paints, Soumak Collection; Nanette Kagaoan (sewing of fabric and dolls); Osmundo Esguerra and Patrick Delanghe (wood for furniture).

The room was inaugurated two weeks ago. At the end of the blessing performed by Fr. Efren Borromeo, the toddlers had fun taking turns with the leafy twig in sprinkling holy water around and at one another’s face.

Chinky de Jesus, managing director of Creative Programs, Inc., welcome the guests. Gina Lopez, managing director of ABS-CBN Foundation Inc., thanked donors and sponsors.

It is hoped that the place would be an ideal healing environment where the children can just be, and relish the joys of the childhood they have been deprived of in the outside world.