EXCLUSIVE: Fit For Royalty—Princess Violago Showcases Their Family's Opulent And Storied Homes
If walls could tell a story, socialite Princess Violago's European-inspired abode could share a thousand and one tales.
It was in December 1990 when a five-year-old Princess and her family moved into their new home that resembles a residence fit for royalty.
Decked out in opulent metallics and regal gem hues, the Violago heritage home also features an abundance of crystal chandeliers, precious works of art, religious items, countless portraits and photographs, and personal memorabilia collected over the years up to this very day.
One look at the enclave and it is immediately understood that it's more than just a structure that provides shelter; this home is a living space that transforms alongside the family it nurtures, a dynamic repository that houses each and every memory its dwellers hold dearest to them with the utmost care.
The receiving area that welcomes guests into Princess Violago's lavish home
For Princess, who is now a mother of two little girls, many of the memories she's made and cherished in this home are centered around her own mother, Olympia "Bootsie" Violago. The matriarch who once worked at the court of appeals was her very best friend up to adulthood, and there isn't a single day when Princess doesn't think of her and miss her; Bootsie passed away five years ago due to her quickly failing health caused by a rare disease.
"When she was still around, I would tell her everything, and she would never get mad... My mom, I only knew her value when she was gone. She would give me the best advice," Princess recalls.
Luckily for Princess, her dad Oscar Violago, and her siblings, they have the house to remind them of all the ways Bootsie left a permanent mark on their lives: its design—beginning from its color palette and going all the way to its floor plan, interiors, and decor—were all conceptualized by Bootsie herself. It was renovated according to her prefences some time before her passing, and has remained that way since. Ultimately, Bootsie's inspiration for the house's new look is loud and clear: European royalty, with an emphasis on the grandeur of Versailles and the French Rennaisance.
The stately dining room
Versailles at her fingertips
"The reason why is she always loved Paris. It’s a city of love. My mom and dad love Paris. They really like European stuff," Princess says, citing her own trips to the French capital as evidence of how her mom inluenced her family to share her fondness for the European destination.
Bringing this love for all things magnifique to life, Bootsie focused on dressing up the ground floor to make it as grand as possible. The result is a space that Marie Antoinette herself would approve of: all five of the ground floor areas accessible to guests including the main receiving area, a stately dining room, a library that doubles as a study, a cozy family space, and a private conference room have their own personalities, yet each adhere to the focal inspiration of 16th century French decorative style.
The receiving area offers a symphony of red and gold, communicating the self-assuredness and confidence of the family that resides within. Golden light washes over the dining room that could easily transform into a ballroom to stimulate the appetites of diners positioned at the 30-seater long table, while a rich, no-nonsense emerald fosters a state of calm and concentration for visitors who arrive on official business. On the other hand, a dusty dove blue and demure gold rule the private meeting room, and the family space downstairs is chock-full of framed memories and sentimental knick knacks that infuse a more personal touch.
The private conference room
Heavily embellished fixtures and furnishings with intricate details fill all rooms from floor to ceiling with no spaces being left naked or bare. Princess explains that many of the home's most interesting pieces were her brother's choices, many of which were unique purchases from his travels abroad, or gifts to her parents from longtime friends, co-investors, and industry partners.
Having been exposed to the finer things in life for most of her youth and adulthood, Princess says, "Because I was the closest to my mom growing up, I learned decor; Lalique, Lladro, Murano—all those things—from her. My mom liked collecting them, and my dad would give her gifts, too. Now, I have an eye for those things." A love for painting was another art form this mother-daughter duo shared, and one of Princess' best memories of this mutual hobby were the lessons they received from the brother of acclaimed artist Romulo Galicano.
If the house is reminiscent of a certain Palace that Filipino leaders have made their seat of power since the mid-30s, that was the way it was meant to be; an official Malacañang Palace decorator was also enlisted to help the Violagos make their creative vision come to life. But more than the assistance from this third party, Princess cites another unparalleled, much closer influence on their home's overall look, and on her life, too: former First Lady Imelda Marcos, a woman Princess considers a kindred spirit to her mother.
A prized family photo
"She loves grand and beautiful things, and she was always pretty. She was my inspiration, and my mom's too. And whenever she's here in the house, she fixes the furniture and walks around. I would also never not see her not fixed. I would look up to Imelda all the time. She was so particular about her French-tipped nails, orange lipstick, dressing classily. She was very smart and she taught me well, like my mom. She would never miss a birthday, graduation, Christmas and New Year’s, or any celebration we would have. She would actually even decorate our home herself," Princess shares.
Moving upstairs to the second floor, the house takes on a totally different atmosphere and is noticeably more relaxed and homey. With each step up their dark wood and thickly carpeted staircase, the house transitions from magnificent to understated, from big and bold to simple and neutral. Replacing expensive, fragile decor are things present in every Filipino family's home like colorful children's toys, graduation portraits, images of the Sto. Niño set atop an altar, and even shoes to be worn for the day. This departure from Versailles-influenced design was done on purpose, and Princess made sure that her very own slice of her family kingdom—her bedroom—would be as fuss-free as possible.
"When I get home, I like it more chill. That’s why when you see my room, it looks like a hotel. Outside you have to be very outgoing, and when you go home, you just want to relax and be yourself. That’s makes me happy," she explains, admitting that her home's shared spaces were decorated with entertaining high-profile guests in mind, while private areas and bedrooms were made to be more tranquil and basic.
Their second family home, located on the other end of the metro, is much more subdued, yet still reflects her family's signature style of maximalist interiors. Just as their French-themed home does, the focal point of the second Violago residence featured here is the high-ceiling dining area that's more masculine and imposing in its appeal, as well as the spacious lawn, pool, and outdoor gazebo that are striking during both day and night. Generally more contemporary and airy, this residence is likewise home to statement furniture, art, and fashion items.
Princess in name, princess in life
Blessed with a family that is reaping the benefits of their thriving businesses, Princess' luxurious lifestyle certainly doesn't start and end with her home. This 33-year-old was given her name for a reason, and she's lived up to it her whole life. Though cute as it is, Princess' name carries a more sombre story behind it.
She recalls, "I have a sister who passed away, 10 months before I was born. She passed away because of a congenital heart problem. It was so sudden because her stomach just hurt and then that was that. It was before Christmas. It was so devastating. My parents were not supposed to have another child, but then they had me. My dad thought I was a blessing and that’s when our business flourished. My parents considered me as their lucky charm."
The living room in the second Violago home
And so, for as long as Princess can remember, all forms comforts were afforded to her as her parents' way of expressing their love. Everything from constant traveling to the world's most beautiful cities, unlimited access to top-tier fashion and accessory labels and beauty brands, being given the most comfortable modes of transportation to dining in only the best of the best places—to building her a home fit for a princess—became ordinary, every day things to her.
"Because I had a sister who passed away, I was treated like a princess. Without asking for it, they gave me everything. I never knew the value of it until I was older and wiser... That was what it was like growing up. They would spoil me and take care of me, and I loved every minute of it. If I could turn back time, I would relive everything, good and bad," she adds.
A princess living a fairytale-like life
And wiser Princess has become, gradually realizing that her life of privilege extends far beyond the walls of her splendid home and comes with a responsibility to help others less fortunate than herself.
"My dad always told us that if you help, don’t show it, because then it seems fake. What I would do before with my dad, we would take street kids to a fastfood chain and feed them. I would not make it kwento to anyone, not even my best friend, because it wasn't a big deal. God gave us blessings to share with them, to people who are less than us—and not just to the poor, but also to friends and people you have relationships with. If you are a friend to someone, you don’t need to show it off," shares Princess. For the near future, Princess plays with the thought of supporting charities that help children with cancer.
The businesswoman-to-be goes on to connect the sentiment with her struggles of being misunderstood and misjudged. Because of the way she's lived her life, she's encountered more than her fair share of people who take her at surface value and never took the time to dig deeper. It's a frustration Princess has dealt with for years, but one she's learning to manage with the help of another big factor in her life: faith.
"I find courage in me being a better person. When God gives me trials, I think it comes as a blessing. My dad always says that if something doesn’t happen your way, take it as a blessing. And I have been, recently. I get my strength, courage, and faith and inspiration from my parents. There wouldn’t be love without God, and they put God first," she reflects.
Bootsie and Oscar's "lucky charm"
The road ahead
While life will likely always be rosy for Princess, she is currently in the process of challenging herself and looking for meaningful outlets to invest her time in. Keeping the bulk of her plans a secret, she divulges only two things about what she has in store: she wants to beat her dad at his own game, and wants to be featured on Forbes for her entrepreneurial achievements all by herself, and before she turns 35. Her venture, to add, may or may not be fashion-related.
But no matter where life takes her, be they peaks or valleys, both of which Princess has experienced in full, she'll always make her way home as that is where she is happiest and most contented. And home, as Princess has already learned, is much more than pretty things, a place to sleep, or a roof over her head. Home to her is much more figurative and meaningful than that.
"Home is family. Family is who cares for you. No matter what happens, at the end of the day, you have them by your side. And they have me too, no matter what they say. A home is made out of love, because without love, there’s nothing. Trials are normal, but they just make you even stronger. Family is the most important thing. If there’s anything you should invest in; it’s family, not material things. Those things fade. Family, love, and relationships don’t, and they’re forever," she concludes.
Photography by Pat Mateo and Daniel Soriano
Art direction by Joan Ko
Makeup by Angie Kho
Hairstyling by Melvin Peru
Shoot assistant: Iya Ronatay