Marjorie Barretto says the two-story, three-bedroom house which she, husband Dennis Padilla, and their children rent is their "fourth or fifth" so far. They move house so often, she can't remember for sure.
"All those who transfer get advice from me because I'm so organized," she says with pride. "When we transfer ayoko 'yung tatlong linggo na nasa kahon-kahon pa 'yung mga things. The day we move into the house everything's in order already.... Wala ka nang makikitang kalat. I really can't stay in a magulong house!"
She's serious. As soon as her family steps into the new place, all clothes are in the proper closets, all appliances in the right spots, and all beds already have sheets!
The key, Marjorie says, is in the planning. One week before the move, she sorts things according to which room they belong to. Using big balikbayan boxes, she packs similar items together—toys with toys, kitchenware with kitchenware, etc.—then has these boxes transported to the new residence. "Habang nasa isang house pa kami," she makes clear.
"And," she adds, "all the boxes, let's say, with kitchen stuff... they're the only things that are going to be delivered today. The kitchen stuff, nothing else... hindi talaga nagkahalo-halo."
A family van carrying their belongings shuttles from the old house to the new one several times during the week while a moving van is reserved for the bigger pieces, including the beds. Once unloaded, the boxes are immediately unpacked. And once furniture and accessories are out, she immediately sets about placing things where they belong. (Remember: all this happens while her family is still in the old place.)
But, as Dennis knows very well by now, once everything's in place, Marjorie is sure to move them around again. And she does so whether the new design hits her at midnight or early morning!
She's candid about this: "Tuwang-tuwa nga si Dennis sa akin kasi I have a bayong na all cutouts ng mga magazines na all about houses. I go through them every day. Minsan kapag umuuwi si Dennis sinasabi niya sa akin, ‘O iba na naman 'yung ayos ng bahay!'"
She recalls the time after Christmas when, after dismantling the Christmas village set, she was left with an empty console top. "And I realized, what am I gonna do?" she says. Remembering a photo from a decorating magazine, Marjorie decided she would try sprucing up her console with candles and plants.
"The following day I had taping in the morning. Before taping I had to go look for that plant, kung hindi... hindi ako matatahimik."
Even when Marjorie is visiting other people's homes, she finds herself uncontrollably "redesigning" their spaces. "Kunwari I go to somebody's house and then I'm quiet. I think, if this were my house I'd put my sofa in this place. Kung bahay ko ito, ganito ang magiging ayos. Vini-vision ko. On my own lang naman."
When abroad, she rarely buys things for herself. Instead, she purchases throw pillows, candles, vases, knickknacks. Of her recent trips to Malaysia and Thailand, Marjorie exclaims: "Super freak out ako doon...sa things sa bahay...mga tela...lahat-lahat!"
In Bangkok Marjorie fell in love with a pair of statuettes which Dennis had to lug the entire plane ride home. She recalls, "They were very heavy. You couldn't put them in the bag. Natusok-tusok si Dennis diyan kasi karga-karga niya. Sabi niya (mimicking Dennis's frustration): ‘Wala ba niyan sa Manila?!'"
Marjorie shares this tip: right here great buys can be found on Dapitan Street in Quezon City. She points to a 3" X 3" banig rug on her living-room floor. "This, you wouldn't believe, I got it for P35 in Dapitan. I go there once a month for my baskets, planters, my baskets for my magazines, my ceramics..."
And her favorite bargain haunt? Where else but her mother's house where she can get furniture, paintings, and antiques for absolutely nothing!
"Every time I go to my mom's house may take-home ako.... You know, my mom was in Canada for three months. When she was gone, I brought a whole truck to her house. ‘Ah, Mom, I'm going to get stuff from my old room.' She told me, ‘Okay, okay.' Akala niya just my room. Pag-uwi niya hindi niya alam kung ano na ang kulang... nauwi ko na 'yung mga chair, nauwi ko na 'yung console table, paintings... Pagdating niya dito sa bahay ko sabi niya sa akin, ‘Ikawwww!' Hindi naman nagalit kasi alam niya na kapag nagsawa na ako, ibabalik ko."
Besides, Mommy Inday understands because, like Marjorie, she has a thing for decorating. "My mom's hilig kasi is cooking and fixing houses," she says.
"Hindi ko nakuha 'yung cooking sa kanya, nakuha 'yun ni Gretchen, ni Claudine. Wala akong talent sa cooking at all. But of all my kapatid, I'm the only one na mahilig to fix houses."
It's a hobby, but, as these pages reveal, a talent as well!
But the best is yet to come, it seems. For Marjorie is right now scouting for a common lot big enough for her and Claudine to build their houses in. When that day comes, Dennis can only imagine the time, care, and attention his wife will put to designing their home. Not to mention the hours she will devote to getting its interiors done just so. And chances are, from then on, she won't want to be moving out a fifth or sixth time anytime soon.
(Note: At press time, Marjorie has already filed for annulment. "I really want to put an end to the tension. I wanna put an end to the fighting," says Marjorie about her decision.")