The TV host’s life as a modern masterpiece
For a minute, it was like visiting an art gallery in New York or Singapore.
With its clean lines and ultra-modern design aesthetic, the Quezon City home of GMA 7 reporter Jay Taruc could pass for a cutting-edge gallery of contemporary art—a museum that embraces all kinds of artworks and artists.
Here, even the risqué and irreverent, like the controversial “Poleteismo” pack, will be celebrated, not shunned.
Jay opens the door—a huge and heavy metal jigsaw door designed by artist Reg Yuson—to Living Stars one frenzied Monday afternoon. “This door weighs 700 kilos,” says Jay.
Despite the hustle and bustle of daily life, the two-story house exudes a laid-back ambience.
Jay relates that he and his dentist-wife, June, collaborated with friend, architect Jason Co, for three years to perfect the look.
“We often met over drinks and exchanged design books,” Jay recalls. “We didn’t start construction until we had finalized all the plans. We wanted to be sure we wouldn’t make costly mistakes.”
They broke ground on the 600-sq. m. property in 2008. A year and two months later, on Dec. 4, 2009, they moved in. This holiday season, the Tarucs, with son Luis, 8, and daughter Sofia, 2, will celebrate their third Christmas here.
Jay says their architect “understood” what he and his wife wanted from the start: “Our favorite architect is American Richard Meier. Jason immediately got our design aesthetic: modern industrial, with an unfinished and yet polished look. It combines form and function. Very practical.”
With help from June and Jason, Jay took charge of the interior decoration. He says that they saved a lot by reusing furniture (chairs, the leather strip-shag rug and glass center table on wheels) from their old condo unit.
Jay leans toward minimalism but more than makes up for it with the artworks. In the living room, there’s a bust of “Mickey Mao,” by American artist Frank Kozik.
He’s also fond of works by British graphic artist Jamie Reid, best known for creating the look of the punk rock era and for designing the sleeves of the singles, and album covers, of the influential band Sex Pistols. Jay collects vintage vinyl records of the band, and also those of other rock groups, such as The Clash and Anak Bayan.
The broadcast journalist champions Filipino visual artists and proudly displays their works. Some of them have become his friends. He points out that he’s drawn to anything that represents creativity and provokes critical thinking.
The pièce de résistance in the living room is a massive painting by Bernie Pacquing titled “Achilles’ Heel.”
Says Jay, “I asked Bernie to make the painting for the wall. It’s 8 by 10 feet high.”
Equal favorites are works of Louie Cordero, Jayson Oliveria, Jojo Legaspi and Alfredo Esquillo Jr.
Major museums have borrowed paintings from the Tarucs’ collection on occasion. Jay lent one of their Corderos, entitled “Lost Cause,” to Melbourne’s Heide Museum of Modern Art; Manila’s Metropolitan Museum borrowed an Esquillo entitled “Pasyonista 6.”
The dining area, which seats 10 to 12 people, hews closely to the modish design principle, too. “A relative gifted us with a big piece of narra wood,” Jay says. “At first, I thought of having a cabinet made from it. But I asked Reg to put metal legs on it and turn it into a dining table instead.”
A black-and-white painting by Manuel Ocampo (“How Does She Expect Me to Get It on When She Keeps on Spending It”) hangs in the dining room, which flows into the sleek, silver-and-gray kitchen.
Benguet bamboo trees line the garden, which also features a lanai, a conversation nook where friends hang out. “I used to smoke, so we made it a point to have lots of open places,” Jay points out.
As a reminder of what he does for a living, there’s a sculpture of a television in the lanai. “It’s by Pete Jimenez, who makes art from scrap metal,” the homeowner notes.
There are more art pieces in the couple’s his-and-hers offices. On the ground floor is Jay’s work space, where he stores his Japanese toy collection and international trophies (a 1998 CNN World Report award and a 1999 Peabody). On the second floor, June has her own corner where she also tutors their son on school days.
The office hallways teem with more Esquillos that deconstruct religious and pop-culture themes. Also on his office walls is the first painting that Jay bought. “It’s by CJ Tañedo, who’s part of the Kulo group (like Esquillo and the controversial Mideo Cruz).”
The offices are in a separate structure from the main house, but there is a bridgeway to the master bedroom, Jay says.
A white metal piece by Yuson is the centerpiece in the master bedroom, where the family gathers at night. “We’re most comfortable here,” says Jay.
The couple’s closet also has his-and-hers sections. June says Jay is more obsessive than she is in organizing the closet. “He also has more shoes and stuff.” Jay admits he would often arrange—and then rearrange—his clothes and collections, “by color, type, brand or genre.”
When Tropical Storm “Ondoy” ravaged Metro Manila in 2009, the neighborhood was flooded, like most parts of Quezon City. Fortunately, they had not installed wood floorings or wall-to-wall carpeting on the ground floor.
The “rough-hewn” look, in the end, worked to their advantage. “The cement floor proved convenient to us, especially since we have kids,” Jay notes. “They can run around and play here.”
During “Ondoy,” he parked his prized motorcycle, a BMW 1200GS, inside the house. It’s the bike he travels on, in the new GMA News TV program “Motorcycle Diaries” (Fridays, 8 p.m.).
The show is a dream-come-true for Jay. “We visit impoverished, out-of-the-way communities, places where there are no good roads, towns that can be reached only on a motorbike,” he says.
He has gone to provinces as near as Bulacan and as far as Agusan del Sur. “The show has combined two of my passions—motorcycles and making documentaries,” he enthuses. Along the way, he picks up true-life stories that make him all the more grateful for life’s many blessings.
Because the hectic taping schedules of “Motorcycle Diaries” and the GMA 7 docu show “I-Witness” (late Monday nights), Jay looks forward to unwinding and cocooning at home.
He also pinch-hits as anchor on the GMA 7 nightly newscast “24 Oras” and the GMA News TV daily show “News to Go.”
Surely, his plates are stacked high at work. “In a week, I usually go out of town four times,” he says. So he makes certain that his days off are spent bonding with his family. “We watch TV in the family room. Or we play records and tinker with the toys in my office. I play computer games with Luis or take care of Sofia. I’m a certified homebody.”
It is a relaxing house in the heart of the city. “It’s very quiet here—like you’re in the province,” he says. “At the same time it’s near schools and the TV studio.”
Seems Jay has mastered the art of living.
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