The native house is constructed out of bamboo tied together, with a thatched roof using dried grass.
Nipa huts were once the native houses of the indigenous people of the Philippines before the Spaniards arrived, and is still used today, especially in rural areas.
Different architectural designs are present among the different ethno-linguistic groups in the country, although all of them conform to being stilt houses, similar to those found in neighbouring countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Palau, and the Pacific Islands.
A nipa hut is an icon of Philippine culture as it represents the Filipino value of bayanihan, which refers to a spirit of communal unity or effort to achieve a particular objective.
It constructed of indigenous materials that can easily be found in their local surroundings – wood, planks, grass, bamboo and large logs.
Normally cubic in shape, this shelter is raised on stilts or posts of one to two meters depending on the area where the said shelter is constructed – it may be on solid ground, on a hillside or mountainside, or in shallow water.
Raising the interior from the ground safeguards the shelter's inhabitants from flood, and from snakes and other wild animals.
A typical bahay kubo only has one, large, open, multi-purpose room for dwelling, called bulwagan. It has a cellar, called silong where most household chores are done.
This area serves as the area for livestock pens, storage space, workspace and granary.
The walls are made of nipa and cogon leaves or sawali or woven bamboo, and there are large windows on all sides, which keep the interior well-ventilated.
The windows have tukod or “legs” that hold the swinging shades open during the day, and secure it back in place at night.
Another feature of the the bahay kubo is ladder or hagdan which can easily be removed at night or when the owners are out. Likewise, some huts have an open back porch or batalan where household chores are done and where the jars of water are placed.