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Home Buddies ‘mayora’ inspires and inspired by ‘kapitbahays’

By Jessica Asprer and Ellicia Del Mundo

Known for Scandinavian-inspired projects and Pinoy vibe interiors, Home Buddies, a local Facebook group, is becoming the go-to for those looking for home makeover inspo or want to share their latest budol finds and do-it-yourself projects.

Home Buddies ‘mayora’ inspires and inspired by ‘kapitbahays’
Home Buddies creator and ‘mayora’ Frances Lim Cabatuando
Before there was Home Buddies, its creator, Frances Lim Cabatuando, having just moved into her condo, would document and share her home improvements on her Instagram account, Nobi Home. She calls it her diary for her “adulting home journey”.

Soon after, the 28-year-old noticed a surge in people’s interest in her decorating skills. 

When queries flooded her inbox, she decided to form a Facebook group, as, she told Manila Standard, it would be a lot easier to communicate with a big number of people on the platform. 

Online barangay

Born in September 2020, Home Buddies is more than an ordinary online group; it is a community, a barangay where members call each other “kapitbahay”. Cabatuando is referred to as the “mayora” who oversees the community together with the group admins or “tanods”.

From its first activity—a minimalism game wherein participants would get rid of unnecessary possessions—things snowballed as more people moved in to the barangay

When it started, it only had less than 10 members; now it has reached over two million. The circle grew; Cabatuando shared she would see posts from diverse member profiles, even from Filipino homeowners outside the country. 

Members share with the group their home makeover ideas, milestones in home improvement, tips on where to shop, life hacks for staying organized, DIY projects, and more to spark creativity and help others find their preferred styles.

Managing the community

Juggling a full time job in an advertising agency, Cabatuando said she would perform her “mayora” duties before and after work.

“Before I go to work,” is the time she will check in on the group or send reminders. “When it’s work time, I work. And then at night, doon ako bumabawi. All the graphic contents, all the planning, talking to the tanods, [and] giving directions, I do it at night. Parang meron akong second life.”

It is not easy managing a big group, especially one whose members come from different demographics. 

“I guess because the group is big you sometimes don’t know the intentions of people, pero you still try to believe na sana honest lahat ng tao,” she shared. 

Because it isn’t feasible to screen all two million members, to those buying and selling she constantly reminds: “Before you transact with anyone, make sure na legit sila, do a background check, research. Kasi to be honest, wala din way for us to know unless i-screen namin isa-isa.”

As she keeps an open mind, one thing is certain in the group – spammers are kicked; “to those na mag-a-abuse, sorry talaga but we kick”. That’s how she keeps the community in check.  

Home Buddies ‘mayora’ inspires and inspired by ‘kapitbahays’
#TEAMKAHOY AND #TEAMPUTI. Member Tolits Quiros Gerodias’ Scandinavian-style kitchen.
The master becoming the student

The barangay has different subteams based on their preferred home interior styles; they call them #TeamPuti, #TeamKahoy, #TeamPink, #TeamItim, #TeamMediomalists, #TeamKulayful, and the biggest subteam, the #TeamSanaAll.

Cabatuando is part of #TeamKahoy and #TeamPuti; her style is a mix of Japanese and Korean minimalist.

Before Home Buddies, the founder herself was not a fan of decorating on her own. It’s common for beginners to feel a subtle tinge of fear when it comes to some DIYs, especially those that make permanent, irreversible changes to the interiors like drilling a hole on the wall, or completely repainting it with a new color.

But seeing others in the group thrive in creativity motivated Cabatuando to embark on a few projects.

“I saw a lot of people doing DIYs and it inspired me. Before this, hindi ako super ma-DIY,” she shared. 

Through the group, the founder learned that anyone can have the space they want without breaking the bank. “Kailangan lang madiskarte ka,” she said.

A safe, productive space for all

Home Buddies has recently partnered with the United Architects of the Philippines Special Committee on Anti-illegal Practice. With the partnership, the group launched Sigurado Sabado, where members can get professional help from experts for technical questions about their homes. 

There are also other friendly neighborhood events like Monday Market which allows community members to buy and sell. Seeing that many lost their jobs in the pandemic, Cabatuando opened the marketplace albeit only on Mondays to regulate the group. Hanap Huwebes allows members to post their queries.

Friendsgiving Day, which takes place every 18th of the month, is a gift-giving activity that encourages members to make sustainable decisions while helping others. This activity started during her birthday on December 18 last year, which was also the time the group was starting to grow. 

On May 1, a skilled workers database called “LABORarangay” was launched to connect carpenters, painters, plumbers, drivers, gardeners, cooks, and other workers with potential clients in the group. After tedious screening, the group launched its directory for carpenters. 

“[I’m] happy to say that when we connected these carpenters na nawalan ng trabaho, nakahanap talaga sila ng clients in the group,” Cabatuando shared.

Better bahay, better buhay

Cabatuando believes that sprucing up your home contributes to overall well-being. “It all starts with your immediate environment,” she said. 

Studies found link between clutter and procrastination, as well as clutter and frustration or life dissatisfaction.

“So, sana nakikita rin ng mga tao ‘yung value ng maayos na bahay; hindi ko sinasabing mamahaling bahay, maayos at malinis na bahay,” she pointed out. “It really does wonders to relationships, to our mind, and even to our outlook and perspective in life.”

When things are better, Cabatuando wants to have on-ground events and meet all the friends she made online. “Let’s hope everything goes well soon,” she said.

Home Buddies ‘mayora’ inspires and inspired by ‘kapitbahays’
CLEAN AND SIMPLE. Member Florderlyn Alagao-Saavedra’s sister’s newly renovated minimalist bathroom. 
She also hopes Home Buddies would effect social change. 

Sana makita ng government how housing is also an important issue. Ang daming Filipino na hindi makabili ng bahay sa Metro Manila kasi sobrang mahal ng properties,” she lamented. “I hope that Home Buddies can be influential enough to make our leaders think.”

Topics: Frances Lim Cabatuando , Home Buddies , Nobi Home , Monday Market
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