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EXCLUSIVE: Inside Manna Vargas-Morada's Plant-Filled Home

Transform your home into a nature sanctuary—just like environmental influencer Manna Vargas-Morada did for her apartment

Living in the middle of a concrete jungle like Manila doesn’t have to be insufferable—if you bring the nature to your home just like Manna Vargas-Morada did.

Metro Channel’s Metro Moms visited the apartment of the newlywed and new momma, and we were not only treated to wonderful company—but also to a bright, plant-filled home.

Manna the environment warrior

Manna is a climate change advocate and works for the Oscar M. Lopez Center, one of the very few research centers in the Philippines that studies the impact of climate change on the Filipinos and the country. The center was only established in 2012, but it is already making great strides in creating and supporting projects that open the minds of Filipinos to the state of the Philippine climate and environment.

Manna is one of the many Filipinos who are now seeing the real impact of everything we do and consume on the environment. Especially since she’s working on climate change research, she has become much more conscious of what she does for herself and her family. In fact, as a new mom to her 4-month-old son, Manna has embraced this responsibility even more to protect the environment, knowing that it will directly impact her son’s life in the future.

“As a mom, I think my sense of urgency for the issue has deepened just because climate change is going to affect not my generation, but my son’s generation and the generations to come after him. So I think that’s why my work has become all the more important as I became a mother,” says Manna.

This is why she has become an even stauncher supporter of local and sustainable products. As an environmental influencer, Manna was very supportive of the recently held ArteFino 2019 in Rockwell. Her Instagram feed is peppered with her love for local products, and she was proclaimed one of the muses of local fashion brand Anika, which is known for using eco-friendly and zero-waste fabrics.

Image from @mannavargas
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In fact, during the wedding of Manna and her husband Angelo, one of the things they wanted was to keep the wastage to a minimum. Lavish affairs like weddings are known for being wasteful—tons of food and décor to end up in the trash, just for a day of frivolity. But during their wedding, they made sure that the decorations they used could be easily reused or replanted, paper waste could be sent for recycling, and plastic was used at the bare minimum. Even Manna’s Rajo Laurel wedding dress was upcycled of sorts, made from the lace from her mother’s own wedding gown and the leftover fabric used for her despedida de soltera dress.

Really, Manna breathed and lived a sustainable and eco-conscious life—which she then brought to her home.

Image from @mannavargas

A nature escape

One of the things that you’ll immediately notice in Manna’s home is that there’s always a plant in every corner, giving each area of the house a fresh and natural feel. Putting plants inside your house is a good habit, too, since air purifying plants can cleanse the air that you breathe in the space. Some can even detoxify dusts and germs that enter the home, especially when you live in the pollution-ridden metro.

In the living room and small dining area, small, potted plants sit in corners as accents. In the main dining area, the plants are used as a table toppers and décor.

Living room
Main dining area
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“My family loves bringing in natural elements into our space because it’s hard to connect with nature when you’re in the city, so why not bring nature into your apartment?” says Manna about her plant-filled home. “We believe it brings in a sense of calm and a sense of connectivity even when you live in such a fast-paced city.”

She also shows us to the balcony, a favorite place of hers and her husband, where they would spend many days enjoying the sunshine or many nights talking about their plans and their future.

Upon closer look, you’ll also notice that one of the cushions sitting proudly on the balcony is the very same cushion that the couple used as décor for their wedding. Speak about upholding sustainable and eco-friendly practices!

Image from @mannavargas

But one nook in the home that probably stands out the most is this sunlight-flooded area where Manna says she loves to hang out in with her son.

“I love working with natural light. I think it spurs a lot of my creativity. It inspires me and it brings up my overall mood,” says Manna that’s why the house is filled with huge windows like in this area.

There are many plants that are perfect indoor, like the usual snake plant, spider plant, Chinese evergreen, or the bromeliad—which made a cameo in Manna’s small dining area. These days, air plants and succulents are also becoming popular since they require the barest essentials and the littlest of effort.

But what makes this particular nook in Manna’s home more interesting is her choice of plant to adorn the area. This beautiful vine plant is called Rhaphidophora tetrasperma, a newcomer in the indoor plant scene. It is a miniature version of the more familiar monster plant, but is a very rare kind of plant. Although the demand for this plant is very high nowadays, it actually grows rapidly and is very easy to take care of. It is only native to limited areas in southern Thailand and Malaysia—but what do you expect from a nature-lover and environment warrior like Manna? She goes around the world to travel and learn more about the Earth!

Learn more about Manna Vargas-Morada’s environmental work, her experience as a first-time mom, and her love for fitness in her episode of Metro Moms, on Metro Channel, channel 52 on Sky Cable and channel 174 on HD. Catch the replays on October 15, 9 a.m. 2:30 p.m., October 16, 11:30 a.m., October 17, 8:30 p.m., October 18, 12:30 p.m., and October 19, 9 a.m.; or watch it on-demand iWant.