In a world where there are more opportunities than there are hours in a day, many of us are exhausted from trying to prove to ourselves and the world that we can do it all. In this short journal, we explore interior designer Vianca Soleil weaving her life’s work in the slow and intimate Puro Island, Romblon, Philippines.
When Soleil left the brightly blazing, ever busy Dubai, it was to rest her weary mind and perhaps even reconnect with what initially drew her in to interior design without the boxes and restraints of the cooperate world.
Like a caged bird finally set free, Soleil soared to places near and far, and when the winds finally blew her to Romblon, the marble paradise, she was certain her sail had changed direction. “I fell in love with the authentic Filipino simplicity. Just the old style huts with the bare minimal,” she says.
With near evangelical clarity, Soleil reminisces on how she had travelled so much that she was beginning to feel like ‘an idle bum.’ Coming to Romblon felt like coming home and she knew the island had seduced her when she made a silent promise to the marble chairs that where too heavy to carry back to Manila: “If ever I come back, I will buy these marble chairs.” Three years later and marking a turning point in her life, Soleil came back to the island to stay, needless to state, the chairs had patiently awaited her return.
Judging by the surreal sunsets, unrushed mornings and leisurely tempo, you would never guess that Puro, was just 25 kilometers off the ever buzzing Boracay islands. With its white sands, and picture perfect hills, this little Filipino island is an authentic cultural charm that is pure from the influence of modern civilization. “You know, Puro is so small that electricity was just connected 2 years ago. There is a small school and chapel, and not much else except for simple homes.” There is no hiding that Puro and her people have Soleil’s heart, “ever since we started building, the men now have something to do besides fishing for their families. It is important to me that they see that my intentions here are pure and through this project we can improve the society’s livelihood.”
Puro sanctifies a slower and more rewarding pace of life. The people are not in any rush – a typical day includes fishing for the family’s basic meals, which they take their time to prepare and eat. There is also a strong sense of community. It may be a small island with close to 500 residents, but the people are warm and very accepting of new things. With much contentment, Soleil shares how her neighbours remember the smallest details, “they have been surrounded by shells all their lives, so I can imagine how strange it must be that such a thing of simplicity excites me so much. It has gotten to the point where if they see a big and beautiful shell, they will keep it for me. I think they are amused by how I squeal in delight with each find.”
She calls it her life’s work. With just a couple of drawings she had poured her entire essence into, echoes of her sisters and mother’s encouraging words, and a vision of her young niece someday saying “my aunty Soleil created this,” Soleil made her big move to Puro. The day starts at 5am, solitude is a norm, a dream of a tranquil family home which will later be open to friends far and near is coming to life. “I knew in my heart this was a journey I had to take on my own. There is nothing else for me after this.”
Words by Khumoetsile Seamogano