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100 years Architecture Profession in the Philippines

Architecture in the Philippines has come a long way since it the profession was recognized 100 years ago.

More than a century ago, one will not find a school for architecture in the land. The closest one can get is to undertake studies to be a Maestro de Obra — then considered as builders. If one wants to earn the title, seeking studies abroad is the best possible way.

Despite not having architecture schools at that time, Maestro de Obras and surveyors established the first organization of architecture as interest in this field grew. More and more Filipinos were able to study abroad and return to the country to practice their profession. In 1921, the Engineers and Architects Law was passed, stating the separation of board of examination for engineers and architects. The same law also mandated Maestro de Obras to be automatically registered as architects, with Tomas Mapua as the first licensed Filipino architect.

Three separate associations of architects were established from the early 1930s to the late 50s. These are the League of Philippine Architects, the Association of the Philippine Government Architects, and the Philippine Institute of Architects. However, it took over a few more decades before the profession saw a clearer path towards professional unity.

After careful and meticulous process of incorporation, the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) was finally established in 1975 and was recognized by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) as the duly accredited professional organization of architects in the country. With a pool of more than 50, 000 members and a strong network of 181 chapters from various regions across the globe, the UAP is a prime mover in making the architecture profession known not only in the country, but also in the international arena. It is an award-winning professional organization which has clinched the PRC’s Most Outstanding Accredited-Professional Organization Award or the APO Award for several consecutive years since 2002 — a testament that it is serving its purpose of protecting the profession.

Today, architects are considered as master builders of all vertical structures, working hand-in-hand with allied professionals in creating builds and designs. Considered not only as a lucrative career, but also a fulfilling path for every builder, the profession has paved the way for notable Filipino architects to showcase their creations not just in the Philippines, but also abroad.

We have renowned architects we all look up to for their distinct designs — National Artist Leandro V. Locsin, who is the talent behind The Cultural Center of the Philippines;

Juan Felipe Nakpil, who designed the Manila Jockey Club, Magsaysay Building, and Rufino Building among others; and Francisco “Bobby” Mañosa who designed the San Miguel Corp.

Headquarters inspired by the Banaue Rice Terraces. These architects are the representation of what the Filipino talent truly has — love for country, creativity, vibrancy, and innovation.

We continue this with a new breed of contemporary architects of equal caliber who are carving their names in their respective fields. In the UAP’s pool of members are laudable professionals in various specializations — from commercial and residential designs, industrial, landscaping, interior, green design and urban design buildings, and many others.

All of their contribution are part and parcel of a bigger role — to help the country in building a nation that is adaptive, sustainable, and livable for more generations to come.

This year, as we celebrate the 100 years of architecture in the Philippines, it is the UAP’s vision to see architecture continuing to thrive in these trying times, and emerge as a leading profession not on in the building industry, but in rebuilding society as well.

Architects take the challenge of giving helpful contributions in adapting to the needs of the times.

Furthermore, we believe that architecture is a primary mover towards modernization while highlighting the importance of the past. As architects and gatekeepers of architectural gems sprawled in various places in the country, it is our goal to help in pushing for thriving cities while still doing our duty of architectural heritage conservation — one of the greatest manifests of our identity that we are forever embedded in.

This celebration serves as a motivation for the UAP to continue living up to its mission of protecting the profession and its members through various programs that not only enrich and cultivate learning among them, but also give the inspiration to do more and contribute more for the betterment of the country. With its Member-First Policy, a flagship campaign of the current administration, the UAP is anchored in the mission of serving its members by providing tangible benefits that would up their skills and talents in the field, even amidst an ongoing global crisis. The UAP works not only within their internal organization. It also puts emphasis on external affairs — promoting their profession with its “Get An Architect” advocacy campaign, an award-winning drive of making the professional known to the public, specifically to the masses. It also comes with a stream of active corporate social responsibility projects in various regions, with the aid of its chapters, by providing pro bono professional consultations, volunteer works, and donations to both public and private sectors for housing problems, environmental conservation and promotion of socio-economic development.

Despite facing hurdles to protect the interest of the professionals, the profession in general, and the laws that govern it in the past years, the UAP believes that architecture is here, not only to stay but to continue soaring. It will not cease from flying high to reach lofty pursuits.

The UAP aims to maintain the architecture profession in the country in the next hundreds of years, through its thousands of Filipino architects ready to take on the challenge of making a better, livable spaces for everyone.

Author: Arch. Renato A. Heray, FUAP is the current National President of the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP)


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