Home and Kitchen DiariesVideo

Mike de la Rosa’s home and garden

Just friends strengthening ties over his signature Spanish dishes

In Mike de la Rosa’s home, dining at the terrace overlooking the garden where the ‘belen’ is central spot. (Photo by Thelma Sioson)
Mike de la Rosa

Mike de la Rosa (in orange shirt) hosts dinner for longtime friends: from left, Thelma Sioson, Anthony ‘Tonichi’ Nocom, Glenna Aquino, Annie Ringor. (Photo by Thelma Sioson)

Mike de la Rosa is a stalwart of Philippine fashion—without fanfare. He established his career in the ‘80s, became one of the most in demand fashion designers/couturiers in both custom-made and ready-to-wear clothes (a pioneer at SM), has kept a sizeable loyal clientele, and all this was no product of hype.

Flowing and easy, classic without being boring, elegant without the borloloy, clean construction and finish—that is the Mike de la Rosa design DNA that has earned him the respect and esteem of his peers and clientele.

Last Christmas season Mike had us over to his home for catch-up dinner with his longtime friend, TheDiarist.ph contributor Glenna Aquino, his design colleague Anthony “Tonichi” Nocom, and head of Bridges PR group Annie Ringor. Our small company got to share the Spanish dishes Mike has been known for, such as fabada, lengua. Not many know that Mike’s grandparents and father were full-blood Spaniards, his grandfather a migrant from Spain.

His ”abuelo” on the father side was from Seville, who was sent to the Philippines, Mike recalls, “as punishment, according to my tita, and married Ysolina Reyes Lala-ari, a daughter of Eulalio Reyes Lala-ari who owned La Fonda de Lala, where Rizal stayed.”

His “abuelo,” mother side, Alberto Belzunce, was born in Negros Occidental to full-blood Spaniards. His great grandparents, Ruperto Belzunce and Angela Zalbalza, were from Pamplona, Spain. “So my dad is Spanish-Indian, and my mother Spanish-Ilongga.”

Mike de la Rosa

Warm corner of the living room

Mike’s home is filled with recuerdos from his ancestors. In his living room is a Salvador Dali print he bought from his aunt when the latter was in her 80s. Beside it are a Malang and an Impy Pilapil.

Norman Crisologo painting as focal point in Mike de la Rosa’s room, alongside a David Medalla

Wider view of bedroom, with period Filipiniana furniture (Photo by Thelma Sioson)

Mike de la Rosa

From the room, view of the terrace and garden

In his bedroom are a beautiful Norman Crisologo and David Medalla paintings.

Mike de la Rosa

In the living room are a Malang painting, a Dali print and an Impy Pilapil (partly hidden)

Mike de la Rosa

Mike de la Rosa uses wood as accents — whether as wall decor or antique love seat, coffeetable.

Mike de la Rosa

Intricately carved wood frame serves as base of painting.

We had dinner in his bedroom terrace overlooking the lush garden, a beautiful belen in its central spot. His garden was brightly but elegantly lit—a perfect backdrop for the group’s stories and reminiscences of Mike and Tonichi’s years at SM, in the trenches of their careers. During the pandemic, Tonichi became known as the “kaftan king” because his kaftans, under the SM label,  became the sold-out merchandise at SM—for a captive clientele that was cooped-up at home during the lockdown. In 2024, Tonichi is launching a lingerie line for SM.

Mike’s home in the south is a stylishly simple bungalow with a façade hidden behind luxurious vines and foliage. The house opens out onto a garden that’s well kept but not stiffly landscaped, abundant with fruit trees, ferns and palms. The terrace is the favored spot in the house. That night, it became the open repository of stories born out of ties that bind.—Thelma Sioson

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