Can you give us a bit of background about you. What have you been doing the past few years, where were you born, what did you study etc? What has been your life up until this point.
I’m Vianca Soleil Roquero, interior designer and founder of Unna. For the past year, I’ve called Puro Island my home. Before that, I spent most of my time in cities, only vacationing at the beach when I can. I grew up in busy Manila and studied interior design. Then I moved to Dubai after graduating and worked there for four years. I also worked briefly in India, Kenya and USA. Aside from interior design, I also dabble in photography, floral arrangement, art direction and painting. Nowadays, I live the opposite. Based by the sea and vacationing in the city. This beach project we call Unna has been over four years in the making. We’re in the construction phase now.
Tell us about where you’re living now. How did you come to live on a beautiful island in Romblon?
A couple of years ago, I came to Romblon for a vacation and instantly fell in love with its untouched beauty. The marine life here is incredible and it’s one of the few places in the Philippines that retains its authentic island life feel. Finding this place felt like a sign that it was time to leave the city. So I came back a year after, spent a month hunting for a property and found this triangle shaped land between the sea and a mangrove forest in the small island of Puro. Then I spent the next months designing both the architecture and interior of our home. I made the big move a year ago and have since been building.
What are your goals for the future?
I would like to keep growing with the island. For now, I take my time building, fine-tuning ideas and once we’re ready, the plan is to turn Unna into a small eco-resort. Through this, I would be able to sustain my lifestyle and at the same time provide more jobs and livelihood to the residents. Once the lockdown ends, I’d like to hold another medical mission and continue to help the community with other projects.
What are you most proud of?
I’m proud of what Unna is starting to become. This project is very personal to me and seeing how others resonate to my story is very humbling.
What are you the most passionate about?
Creating, in many forms. It’s also become my companion during this isolation.
What sacrifices did you have to make in order to live the lifestyle you’re currently living?
I had prepared to leave all the comforts I was used to when I lived in the city. Then I moved here and realised the only real sacrifice is not being near my family. Building from scratch was a big sacrifice as we were faced with a lot of challenges, from the logistics to typhoons. But that’s part of moving to a new place and I have since been able to adjust. It’s been a change of lifestyle and also a change in mindset.
What do you miss, if anything about home?
I miss a noisy home! I come from a big family of five siblings, four nephews and two nieces. We treat each other like friends and time with them is always the silliest. I can’t wait for them to visit and have big picnics.
Can you describe a typical day on the island. What is island life really like?
The day usually starts by sunrise. I spend it by the shore, reflecting and planning my routine around the tide. Then I would go for a swim or when I have more time, a hike around the island. After breakfast, it’s mostly work on the property. I oversee the construction and develop design ideas. On afternoons, I usually paddle out to sea and read a book. Then waiting for sunset has become the time wherein I’m idle with my thoughts and conclude the day. For me, island life is all about nature and simple pleasures. It’s also a constant effort to discover and do it unhurriedly.
Your top 5 priorities in life…
Self-growth, family, Unna, community and travel.
If not Romblon then where?
I’ve fallen in love with a lot of other places but I really feel so invested and connected with Romblon that I can’t imagine being anywhere else. But I’d say anywhere actually, as long as it feels like home and I’m with my loved ones.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Put in the work, leave the ego and surprise yourself! There’s absolutely no reason as to why you shouldn’t go for what it is you long for.