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Christmas at home with Malu Dy Buncio

Jojo G. Silvestre



MALU and husband Luie, even if ‘socially distanced,’ are all smiles for the holidays.

My aunt, Malu Gaffud Cumagun Dy Buncio, and her husband Luie, have been living in a high-rise residence in Legazpi Village in Makati City for almost 20 years. With them are their two Siamese cats and their long-time household helper, Flor.

“Since 1984 my husband and I have lived in three condominiums, upgrading as we became financially more stable,” Malu said.

They have also lived in Australia and Indonesia as expats. Living in a condo was the smart thing to do since the couple traveled frequently for work.

Malu, a graduate of Communication Arts from the Assumption College in San Lorenzo, Makati City, has been a corporate warrior for the longest time, although, since retirement, she has focused on consultancy work.

With the pandemic disrupting life worldwide, she remains in touch with her clients through the business marketing and management webinars that she conducts.


Contemporary with Asian touch
The Dy-Buncio residence, measuring 300 square meters, has two bedrooms, a den, three baths, a powder room, living and dining area, an entertainment “great room” on the third floor, and household help quarters, the last a major consideration “because it has to have a window,” she said.

Malu intended her present home to be contemporary with an Asian touch. Occupying tables and cabinets, as well as the nooks and crannies of her exquisitely decorated home, are items she has collected from her travels as a professional, usually in Asia. These include pieces of pottery, paintings, figurines, tapestry and tableware.

Displayed as well are heirloom pieces from her mother and mother-in-law, “making my place look more eclectic,” Malu pointed out.

A third floor ‘great room’ where the Dy Buncio couple loves to relax.

Old ornaments
Malu, who retired at age 50 after working for 30 years, studied at the Philippine School of Interior Design but did not finish the course because she had been diagnosed with cancer.

In designing her home’s interior, she relied on her personal trove of artistic memories acquired from being a faithful reader of interior design magazines through the years.

She said, “I have an incredible collection of old architectural digest magazines that I can’t let go of.”

The lockdown and quarantines in the last nine months saw Malu engaged in daily activities such as “cooking, fixing the house, physical fitness exercises, Zoom meetings with friends and attending virtual Bible studies, but always starting each day with coffee at my favorite third-floor nook.”

With more time in her hands, she also did a lot of cleaning up and soon discovered things she had forgotten in storage, including “a painting that I kept 20 years ago, probably while I was still deciding where to hang it.”

“I combine a few new trimmings with things that have been in my home for years.”


REINDEER and hurricane lamps that adorn the Dy Buncio’s dining table are gifts from Malu’s mother, Lolita Gaffud Cumagun.

Since October, Malu has been decorating for Christmas and, in this issue of the Social Set, she shows us the various corners of her home, all spruced up, but not extravagantly, for this much-awaited season. After all, as everyone has been saying, Malu stressed, “We can’t stop Christmas. As one priest told me and my friends, decorating for the coming of birth of the Lord brings us hope. And on my part, it has also brought me joy.”

Malu said that most of her Christmas ornaments are old. “I combine a few new trimmings with things that have been in my home for years, such as crystal plates, bowls and ceramic plates.”

To add to her stock this year, she bought inexpensive items and glue-gunned decorations on them. “If you take a look, you will recognize the walis tingting with Christmas balls, crystal beads from broken bracelets and walis tingting with ribbons. I buy all kinds of ribbons and add them to trees, Christmas balls, swags, and garlands.”

Helping her dance partners
She has also created focal points in each area of her home, although she considers “my advent wreaths and manger as my favorite because they bring me peace and joy.”

This Christmas, she hopes to continue helping “my four partners in competitive dancing who, since the lockdown, have not had a source of income.

“I have also tried to help others by sharing my business experience through extremely low-cost (sometimes free) webinars for SME through Mansmith & Fielders,” Malu said.

Peace and goodwill for mankind
As to what she wants for herself, Malu said: “Nothing actually. I am grateful for all I have.”

Just the same, she is asking the Lord “to heal the world, not just from Covid-19 but from anger, jealousy and hatred.”

Malu’s foremost prayer in this season of good tidings: “That peace and good will reign for all mankind.”