The rich heritage of Philippine architecture

Filipino architecture always amazes me. I am very interested in the historical heritage of the Philippines—from modern to Spanish period designs, as well as the ancestral forms like the famous bahay kubo. I think there may be an under-appreciation of value and the status of such a structure as the bahay kubo.  

For me, the bahay kubo represents a concept that is viable and relevant even today. The elements and performance-based features of a bahay kubo can be utilized in designing much bigger buildings such as condominiums. The bahay kubo was designed to blend with its location and environment. Its materials were sourced to fit the environment. The bahay kubo also promotes natural horizontal and vertical ventilation which enables it to deliver a pleasant flow of air or good ventilation. You will also notice that the bahay kubo was designed to be detached from the ground, allowing a family to raise livestock for their daily needs. Today, such elevation could be used for further ventilation, or for protection from flooding.

 I also love the Spanish architecture-inspired houses and buildings I’ve discovered while going around the Philippines. Interestingly, I also discovered a lot of Spanish-inspired historical houses and buildings in Cagayan de Oro, Batangas, and in many other places I visited in the Philippines. I admire Vigan for promoting and preserving its historical sites. 

 Preserving historical and cultural sites will provide cultural and economic benefits. On the cultural side, this will enable the people, especially the younger generation, to reconnect with the rich cultural and historical past of the country. After all, culture is the soul of the country. 

On the economic side, the tourism industry will provide a lot of employment opportunities to the people when local and foreign tourists visit these sites. Moreover, huge tourist traffic in these sites will also provide economic opportunities to the commercial establishments operating in these historic sites. The Italian experience is a classic case where the country has an excellent opportunity to appreciate its museums, churches, cities, and ancient ruins such as the Colosseum. Meanwhile, the economic benefits are manifested through the millions of tourists coming to Italy. 

 I encourage Filipinos to pursue all-out efforts preserving the country’s heritage and historical sites. I believe the private sector can be a good partner in this undertaking.

 Speaking of contemporary architecture in the Philippines, the Ramon Magsaysay Center is one of my favorite buildings designed by Filipino architects. I also got interested in the building as Architect Alfredo Luz had Italian-American architect Pietro Belluschi and Alfred Yee as partners. Born in Ancona, Italy in 1899, Belluschi moved to the United States in 1923 and finished his second degree as an exchange student and scholar at Cornell University in 1963. One of his famous works was the Pan Am Building in 1963 where he worked as one of the collaborators and design consultants. He was awarded the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal in 1972.

 I also like Leandro Locsin’s works such as the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Makati Stock Exchange building, the Church of the Holy Sacrifice at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, among others, because of their distinct sense of form and mass, including the “floating volume” effect for which the CCP is known. 

Right now, I see many impressive architectural designs, mainly in buildings in Metro Manila (Bonifacio Global City, Makati, and Ortigas). At my company, Italpinas Development Corp. (IDC), we believe that inspired architecture has a place in cities throughout the Philippines, including the dynamic and emerging hubs where we locate our projects. 

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