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Eminent Philippine Architects and Their Famous Works

The varied influences in most of our physical structures have led many to believe that the Philippines does not have a definitive architectural style. However, getting to know the most eminent Philippine architects should change their perspective. Their works and dedication to the craft have made them national artists. Read about them to know more about the true face of Philippine architecture.

Table of Contents

Juan F. Nakpil

May 26, 1899 – May 7, 1986 | National Artist: 1973 

Nakpil is the first architect conferred the Order of National Artist of the Philippines. His journey to building beautiful houses wasn’t an ordinary one, but it was destined to happen. 

Nakpil went to the University of the Philippines to study engineering. He was fortunate enough to learn painting, freehand drawing, and decorative arts from Fernando Amorsolo and Fabian de la Rosa. He also gained experience in sculpture under Maestro Ocampo. These influences helped the young Nakpil to marry the arts and engineering. He eventually moved to the US where he enrolled at the University of Kansas and graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering in 1922.

Engineering to Architecture

During this time, Nakpil’s future career path was still geared toward engineering. He was already enrolled in the prestigious Cornell University to learn more about hydraulic engineering when his uncle persuaded him to embrace his true passion: architecture. In 1925, the 26-year-old Nakpil headed to France to dive into architecture at the Fontainebleau School of Fine Arts. He then capped his expertise with a master’s degree from Harvard University.

Eager to share his knowledge and expertise with the Filipinos, Nakpil took on a teaching job while serving as an assistant architect at the Bureau of Public Works. After gaining experience from numerous architectural firms such as Andres Luna de San Pedro and Don Gonzalo Puyat and Sons, Nakpil founded his own company. He was later joined by his three sons, who also became architects.

Champion of Philippine Architecture

In 1933, Nakpil founded the Philippine Architects Society, now known as the Philippine Institute of Architects. He was likewise notable for championing the concept of Philippine Architecture, a design discipline that effectively brings together various factors including climate and weather, natural environment, and seismological characteristics to develop a beautiful masterpiece.  

Nakpil was also notable for injecting unique elements of architecture into most of his works. Thanks in part to his international education and training under the wings of Jean Jacques Haffner, he was well-versed in the emerging styles of his time. This enabled him to develop design principles that use indigenous materials to build structures that astound the observer even to this day.

Philippine Pride

Nakpil became an honorary correspondent member of the Societe d’ Architectes par le Gouvernement Français in 1952 and the Chevalier de la légion d’ Honneur three years after. In 1956, he also became a correspondent member of the Colegio de Arquitectos de Chile. His contributions to Philippine architecture were further cemented when he became the first Filipino to become a fellow of the American Institute of Architects.  

His expertise and talent enabled him to win the title of Architect of the Year in 1939, 1940, and 1946 from the Philippine Association of Board Examiners. The same organization also conferred him with the Most Outstanding Professional in Architecture award in 1951. The Institute of Architects gave him the gold medal of merit in 1950. Former President Ramon Magsaysay bestowed Nakpil with a presidential medal of merit and the Rizal Pro Patria Award in 1955 and 1972, respectively.   

For many in the industry, Nakpil is the Father of Philippine Architecture. He died on May 7, 1986.

Did you know? 

Juan F. Nakpil is the son of two Katipuneros. His father was Julio Nakpil, a renowned composer and Katipunan general. His mother was Gregoria De Jesus, the widow of Andres Bonifacio, the Supremo of the Katipunan.

Famous Works 

Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, Quiapo, Manila

Allan Jay Quesada | Wikimedia Commons

Home to the Black Nazarene, the Minor Basilica is notable for having a slightly Baroque tower with an opulent overall design. The highly detailed forms will immediately draw your eyes when you look at the facade.  

The Quezon Institute, Quezon City

George Bohmfalk | Flickr 

One of the few remaining Art Deco masterpieces is the Quezon Institute. It bears a distinctive Streamline Moderne influence that was highly popular during the 1930s. Borrowing from aerodynamic design, this Art Deco style emphasizes long horizontal lines and curving forms, which are notable in the delicate bridges connecting the pavilions of the building.

The Capitol Theater, Escolta, Manila 

Another Art Deco creation of Nakpil is Escolta’s Capitol Theater. The theater for the “alta sociedad” (high society) of the early days, the Capitol is famed for its design that incorporated double balconies, a rarity during the 1930s. Before its demolition, the theater’s facade featured two bas-relief sculptures by Francesco Riccardo Monti, an Italian sculptor. 

The University of the Philippines-Diliman Administration Building, Diliman, Quezon City  

Ramon F. Velasquez | Wikimedia Commons

The UP-Diliman Administration Building is distinctive for its massive pillars that serve as an open portico to the amphitheater. Reminiscent of neoclassical architecture, Nakpil made it unique by adding his spin to the peristyle concept often associated with the Greeks and Romans. He incorporated glass-block flooring to show the basement rooms and give them ample natural lighting.

Rizal Theater, Makati Avenue, Makati City 

Image: Presidential Museum and Library

Before there was Makati Shangri-la on the corner of Makati and Ayala avenues, the standalone theater named after our national hero used to claim the spot. The film and performance venue featured an orchestra section that formed an ascending curve, making it stand out during its run.  

Capitan Pepe Building, Rizal Avenue, Manila 

Judgefloro | Wikimedia Commons 

Another testament to Nakpil’s adherence to the Streamline Moderne discipline is the Capitan Pepe Building located at Calle Azcarraga (now C.M. Recto Avenue) and Avenida Rizal (Rizal Avenue). The structure housed several establishments like the Moonlit Terrace nightclub and the then-luxurious Central Hotel. 

University of the Philippines Carillon, Diliman, Quezon City 

Patrick Roque | Wikimedia Commons 

Constructed in 1952 with a height of 130 feet, the UP Carillon is a must-not-miss structure when you visit the expansive campus of the state university. The campanile, which used to have 46 tuned bells, became a symbol of the school’s solidarity during the tumultuous times in Philippine society.  

Rizal House (Reconstruction), Calamba, Laguna 

The Rizal House in Calamba was brought back to life following Executive Order No. 145 of former President Elpidio Quirino. Nakpil created a replica of the national hero’s ancestral home, following the Bahay na Bato architectural style, which was popular during the 19th century.

Pablo S. Antonio

Jan. 25, 1902 – June 14, 1975 | National Artist: 1976 

Antonio is credited for bringing modern architecture to the Philippines. This unique style is evident in most of his works, communicating beauty in simplicity. He believed that a design should be free of clutter, incorporating clean and smooth lines instead. Any presence of curves was intentional and integral in achieving the goal of the structure. 

His mantra of “form follows function” can be an ode to Louis Sullivan, famed for steel-frame constructions for skyscrapers.  

Poverty not a hindrance

Born in Binondo, Manila, Antonio grew up an orphan. However, the situation did not deter the young lad from pursuing his studies. He had to take on several jobs to finance his schooling, including becoming a draftsman for the Bureau of Public Works. He enrolled and studied architecture at the Mapua Institute of Technology. Due to a lack of funding, Antonio eventually dropped out.  

Ramon Arevalo, an engineer and the owner of the Santa Clara Lumber and Construction Company where Antonio worked as a foreman and draftsman, volunteered to fund his education. This made it possible for Antonio to get his architecture degree from the University of London.  

After completing the course, Antonio became Arevalo’s company’s in-house architect.  

Myriad of Designs

Most of his works are notable for having strong Art Deco influences, which was considered a more progressive approach for Philippine architecture. He successfully steered Philippine architecture toward a new direction with his simplistic yet captivating approach.  

Antonio’s works are also notable for bringing a myriad of designs into life, devoid of any apparent trademarks. He was also mindful in developing designs that carefully matched the Philippine tropical climate. Antonio utilized sunscreens and slatted windows to bring in more natural lighting and avoid any possibility of rain seepage. He believed that every building should be simple in design but progressive enough while staying true to its purpose without employing a set of aesthetics to make it stand out.  

Antonio received the National Artist for Architecture in 1976 posthumously, one year after his death.  

Did you know? 

Antonio completed architecture, a five-year degree course, in only three years? 

Famous Works 

Far Eastern University Buildings, Sampaloc, Manila 

Arvzk3n | Wikimedia Commons 

Several of the Art Deco buildings of the FEU Sampaloc campus were the brainchild of Antonio. The Nicanor Reyes Hall, along with the Law and Nursing buildings, East Asia College of Engineering and Computer Studies, the Auditorium, and the Administration and Science Buildings, were the product of the creativity and passion of the late architect. The UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage for Culture Heritage Conservation recognized the structures for their retention and preservation of architectural integrity. 

Manila Polo Club, Forbes Park, Makati 

Image: Lougopal.com 

The Manila Polo Club is famous for being one of the most prestigious polo clubs in the Philippines. Antonio designed the clubhouse, inspired by his residence that incorporated “lush greenery and calm tranquility.” Often, he considered the structure as the best representation of his clean lines and bold rectangular masses with his different yet cohesive use of stone, wood, and reinforced concrete. 

Ideal Theater, Avenida, Manila 

John Tewell | Flickr 

One of the defining moments in Antonio’s career was his creation of the Ideal Theater. The Roces-owned property boasted an Art Deco design highlighted with smooth curves and finishes. It became one of the standout beauties along Avenida and sparked a theater revolution on the avenue.

Galaxy Theater, Rizal Avenue, Manila 

Image: Humanities Group1 

The Galaxy Theater, which used to occupy Rizal Avenue, was famous for its Art Moderne architectural style. It was an ode to the popularity of Broadway and Hollywood during the 1950s and 1960s. The building featured sun baffles that gave it a captivating character. Its arcade post accented with blocks resembling mahjong blocks became its main structural element. Sadly, the Galaxy Theater was demolished in 2008 despite the best efforts of conservationists.  

Captain Luis Gonzaga Building, Rizal Avenue, Manila 

Standing beautifully at the corner of Rizal Avenue and Carriedo Street is the modernist Captain Luis Gonzaga Building. The design approach employed by Antonio highlighted his motto of designing based on the tropical climate of the Philippines. It featured the perfect application of the double sunshades. Noticeably, the concrete slabs overhanging on the ceiling and window sill heights on each floor have vertical fins. Every floor has curved bands of horizontal concrete. This ingenious design effectively diminishes the harsh effects of sunlight and rain.

Boulevard-Alhambra (Bel-Air) Apartments, Roxas Boulevard, Manila 

 Another surviving Art Deco masterpiece by the late Antonio is the Bel-Air Apartments along Roxas Boulevard. The pre-war building boasts vertical parapets that line the mid-facade, featuring horizontal bands converging at streamlined corners. 

White Cross Orphanage, San Juan, Metro Manila  

Claire Algarme | Wikimedia Commons

The child-caring agency in San Juan highlights the creative prowess of Antonio, with its innovative application of Art Deco design in its cross-shaped facade. Sharp and clean lines completed the building’s look. The architect’s use of huge windows offered an influx of fresh air for the shelter’s residents. 

Life Theater, Quiapo, Manila 

Franz Miko Verzon | Wikimedia Commons 

Now known as the Teofilo Villonco Building, Life Theater used to be a standalone movie house in Quiapo. It could seat 1,200 moviegoers. The structure is notable for marrying the concepts of neoclassical architectural style, using streamlined and scaled round columns that bear conical finials and Art Deco, with the application of aluminum baffles. 

Leandro V. Locsin 

Aug. 15, 1928 – Nov. 15, 1994 | National Artist: 1990 

Perhaps a name more recognizable among the present generation is the late architect Leandro V. Locsin. The third National Artist for Architecture is known for his creative application of floating volume to achieve a simplistic yet distinctive design.  

Born in Negros Occidental, Locsin used to study pre-law at De La Salle University before delving into the world of music at the University of Santo Tomas. With his intense interest in the arts, Locsin finally shifted to architecture.  

Locsin’s approach to his architectural oeuvre was highly influenced by Eero Saarinen and Paul Rudolph, whom he met during his visits to the US. Like his predecessors, Locsin always considered the Philippine climate and used traditional materials to bring his ideas to life. 

Aside from the Order of National Artist for Architecture award, Locsin also received the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize in 1992.  

Did you know? 

Leandro V. Locsin is often referred to as the poet of space for the great attention he placed on the aspect of space, symmetry, abstraction, proportion, and materiality, along with the utilization of concrete and traditional materials.

Famous Works 

Cultural Center of the Philippines, Roxas Boulevard, Manila 

Jon Mannion | Flickr 

The iconic building of the Tanghalang Pambansa is Locsin’s most recognizable work. The structure’s facade is made of marble and features a 12-meter cantilever supported by massive arching columns. The design gave the building the illusion of floating in space. 

The architect was also responsible for designing the Folk Arts Theater in 1974. The FAT is the largest single-span building ever built in the country, with a construction time of only 77 days. Locsin’s other buildings within the CCP are the Design Center of the Philippines, the Philippine Center for International Trade and Exhibitions, and the Philippine International Convention Center. 

The Parish of the Holy Sacrifice (Simbahang Bilog), Diliman, Quezon City 

Ramon F. Velasquez | Wikimedia Commons

The Simbahang Bilog is Locsin’s first design that was built. The circular chapel follows an open plan that easily seats a thousand people. It is also the first chapel in the country to have a central altar and thin-shell concrete dome. The structure is aptly named a National Historic Landmark by the National Historic Institute and a Cultural Treasure by the National Museum. The building houses some of the greatest works of national artists. The church’s flooring is the work of art of Arturo Luz while Vicente Manansala and Ang Kiukok created the stations of the cross. The chapel’s cross is the creation of Napoleon Abueva.  

National Arts Center, Los Baños, Laguna 

The inverted pyramid structure is a progressive interpretation of the region’s indigenous vernacular architecture. Locsin was able to craft monolithic forms married with bold but straightforward geometries, particularly in the roofing design and construction style. 

InterContinental Hotel, Ayala Avenue, Makati 

Ramon F. Velasquez | Wikimedia Commons 

The 14-story building along Ayala Avenue was the first five-star hotel known for having interiors that evoked the different historical eras. It featured a sprawling and fully carpeted lobby. Another national artist, I.P. Santos, did the landscaping. The hotel stopped operations in 2015.  

Benguet Center, Ortigas Center, Pasig 

Image: 1bp 

Where the posh mall The Podium stands today used to be the spot where the iconic structure of the Benguet Center was located. The building was constructed after the mining company, Benguet Corporation, decided to move its headquarters to Ortigas Center. Locsin, credited for his beautiful mix of regional influences in his designs, took inspiration from the Banaue Rice Terraces to evoke similar imagery of the Cordillera’s topography.

Philippine Pavilion, Osaka, Japan 

Image: designKULTUR 

While many of Locsin’s works were adored in the Philippines, he was also recognized for some of his works abroad. His creation of the Philippine Pavilion in Osaka, Japan, is one for the books. Constrained by budget and limited space, Locsin’s dramatic sweeping roof was a statement piece that expressed the soaring spirit of the Filipinos. The building used hardwood and native materials, particularly narra planking that decorated the ceiling and Capiz shells in the skylight to diffuse the interior space. The effort earned the structure a spot in the 10 most popular pavilions during the Exposition of 1970.  

Istana Nurul Iman, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei 

de:Benutzer:Chtrede | Wikimedia Commons 

Another international creation of the late Locsin is the Istana Nurul Iman, the official residence of the Sultan of Brunei. The central architectural motif of the palace used golden domes and vaulted roofs that were heavily influenced by the country’s Islamic and Malay cultures.  

Ildefonso P. Santos Jr. 

Sept. 5, 1929 – Jan. 29, 2014 | National Artist: 2006 

Ildefonso P. Santos, or I.P. Santos, was the National Artist for Architecture in 2006. He is also known as the Father of Philippine Landscape Architecture for pioneering it in the Philippines. Santos received his architecture degree from the University of Santo Tomas. He furthered his studies by getting a second architectural and industrial design degree from the University of Southern California School of Architecture. He later completed his Master of Architecture degree in the same university in 1960. 

Much of his landscape architecture experience came from his stint at Ralph D. Cornell’s architectural firm, Cornell, Bridgers, and Troller, where he designed the Los Angeles Music Center. Upon his return to the Philippines, Santos went into the academe. He was appointed as a professional lecturer at the University of Philippines and later served as a full professor and eventually as a consultant.

He may be educated as an architect, but his artistic prominence was most notable with the landscapes he envisioned and brought to life.

Use of concrete  

Santos was known for the abundant use of concrete, softened by incorporating patterns and textures that remain pleasing to the eyes. The prominent architect’s expression of softscapes heavily featured mass plantings with different textures and colors. His works often completed nondescript structures to give them more color and life.  

Growing in Malabon, the renowned artist made a name in the industry when he created landscaped walks with sculptures and fountains as an aesthetic highlight of the Makati Commercial Center. He later showed his exemplary dedication in the many parks, gardens, and plazas that perfectly encapsulated modern Filipino life.  

Santos believed that the Philippine landscape industry still has room to grow. He encouraged landscape architects to maximize the use of local resources.  

Did you know? 

Santos served as the first president of the Philippine Association of Landscape Architects. He was also instrumental in including the Board of Landscape Architecture at the Philippine Regulation Commission. His PRC landscape architect registration number is 0000001. 

Famous Works 

Cultural Center of the Philippines, Roxas Boulevard, Manila 

Ever passed by Roxas Boulevard and noticed the enigmatic landscaping surrounding the CCP Complex’s massive structure? With the fountain and well-maintained landscaping juxtaposed beside the concrete, Santos’ handiwork in collaboration with fellow national artist Leandro Locsin indeed depicted the beauty of Philippine architecture.  

Bantayog ng mga Bayani, Diliman, Quezon City  

Judgefloro | Wikimedia Commons 

Santos designed the entire expanse of the 3.45-hectare property in Diliman, Quezon City. The historical monument is notable for its collection of giant trees and the conservation of natural resources to give it a refreshing feel. It is a perfect way to celebrate the lives of the Philippines’ fallen heroes.  

San Miguel Corporation Building, Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong 

Image: San Miguel Properties 

The San Miguel Corporation headquarters in Ortigas Center is another handiwork of the late Santos in collaboration with Francisco Mañosa, a fellow national artist. The low-rise structure is one of the best-looking offices in the Philippines for its overall aesthetics. It was a perfect example of structure and landscape mix. The landscaped deck gave the uniquely shaped structure even more texture and depth. The planters wrapping around each floor of the building contribute to the entire look of the building and the functional intent of its design. The perimeter is peppered with pocket gardens, ponds, and a roofed lounge with even more landscaping.  

Nayong Pilipino, Rizal Park, Manila 

Image: Esquire Magazine 

Touted as the countryside in the heart of the city, Nayong Pilipino was once an opportunity to explore the entire Philippine archipelago with its replicas of the Rice Terraces, Mayon Volcano, and Bahay na Bato. 

Paco Park, Paco, Manila 

Angelyn Marquez | Wikimedia Commons 

Circular in shape with the inner circle bearing the fort that served as the main entrance of the old cemetery, Paco Park is one of Manila’s iconic havens. The overall landscaping of the park shows the architect’s ingenious conservation of the heritage space while adapting to modern usage.  

Rizal Park, Manila 

Arius1998 | Wikimedia Commons 

Santos was also responsible for the Garden for the Blind, the Artists’ Village, and Rizal’s Execution tableau. The park, an expansive green space smack in the middle of the busy streets of Manila, is a welcome reminder that Filipinos have a place where they can relax amid the hustle and bustle of the city.  

Loyola Memorial Park, Marikina 

A place for the dead brimming with life is the perfect description of Santos’s take on the Loyola Memorial Park. What was once a rice field with flat topography was sculpted to match Marikina’s terrain, effectively highlighting a few areas while hiding some others.

Tagaytay Highlands Golf and Country Club, Tagaytay City, Cavite 

A champion golf course in the windy province of Cavite, the Tagaytay Highlands Golf and Country Club showcases Santos’s tropical landscaping prowess. The villas and the country clubhouse are jaw-dropping examples of what the landscape architect can do as a visionary in his field. 

The Orchard Golf and Country Club, Dasmariñas, Cavite 

The Orchard Golf and Country Club features English-style countryside homes surrounded by impressive landscaping, thanks to Santos. The architect created a sanctuary with lush fairways and greens that allow golfers and residents to live in elegance.  

José María V. Zaragoza

Dec. 6, 1912 – Nov. 26, 1994 | National Artist: 2014 

Responsible for introducing modern ecclesiastical architecture in the Philippines, Zaragoza  created modern edifices that tackled spiritual and liturgical structures. However, his accomplishments were not limited to secular structures. The late architect created more than 300 buildings that showcased his proficiency in modernist architectural style.  

Zaragoza completed his architectural degree from the University of Santo Tomas in 1936. With the growing popularity of religious architecture, Zaragoza went to Rome to pursue his studies at the International Institute of Liturgical Art where he earned a Liturgical Art and Architecture diploma. He also attended the Hilversum Technical Research Center in The Netherlands, where he got his diploma in comprehensive planning. 

Unique among contemporaries 

His knowledge and training allowed him to become well-versed in injecting innovative strategies in designing churches in the Philippines. 

While Zaragoza incorporated native Philippine influences with his designs, the Latin American and European inspirations were also apparent in his approach. This influence set him apart from his contemporaries. He was able to stay culturally grounded by instilling traditional forms and creating architectural imagery that reinterpreted modern architecture.  

Vatican Recognition

Zaragoza’s contributions to Philippine architecture were especially palpable during the postwar era when he helped reshape the Manila landscape through modernism. Through his futuristic approach, Zaragoza became the pillar of modern architecture.  

The Vatican also recognized the late architect. In 1992, Zaragoza received the Gentiluomo di Sua Santita (Lay Member of the Papal Household) title from Pope John Paul II. He was also appointed ambassador of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta to the Philippines.

Did you know? 

José María V. Zaragoza placed 7th overall when he took his licensing exam. He became the 82nd licensed architect in the Philippines.  

Famous Works 

Sto. Domingo Church and Convent, Sto. Domingo, Quezon City  

Image: Philippine News Agency 

One of the most famous works of Zaragoza is the Sto. Domingo Church, which he created for his Dominican mentors from the University of the Philippines. The church’s design is a perfect blend of the old and the new. Its entire complex retained the colonial period while the building itself depicted simplistic modernity.  

Meralco Building, Ortigas Avenue, Pasig 

Francis Gaerlan | Flickr 

The 15-story building that punctuates the Ortigas skyline is notable for its unique form. Its slightly curved design shied away from the boxlike look that most skyscrapers in the area have. The tapering vertical sun breakers were critical in giving its concave face a soft look while maintaining stability.  

Metropolitan Cathedral, Cebu, Cebu City 

Arnold Carl Fernan Sancover | Wikimedia Commons  

During World War II, the Metropolitan Cathedral was heavily damaged, with only the belfry, facade, and walls remaining. Zaragoza supervised the reconstruction of the ecclesiastical edifice after the war. The church’s architecture is notable for its baroque colonial influence with floral carvings and inscriptions on its trefoil-shaped gable. 

Union Church of Manila, Legazpi Village, Makati 

Robert Fabros | Flickr 

Zaragoza designed the Union Church of Manila. It was inspired by the Filipino “salakot” as its roofing, giving it a distinctive look amid the heavily business-oriented skyline of the central business district.  

Casino Español de Manila, Ermita, Manila 

Claire Algarme | Wikimedia Commons  

Established in 1893 by the Spaniards, Casino Español de Manila was redesigned by Zaragoza with the Filipino-California-Spanish style fusion in mind. The then-exclusive venue carried an exquisite colonial architecture that exuded Spanish grandeur.  

Francisco T. Mañosa

Feb. 12, 1931 – Feb. 20, 2019 | National Artist: 2018 

One of the most influential architects of the modern century was Francisco “Bobby” Mañosa. He was the major proponent of neovernacular architecture in the Philippines, earning his keep as the last (to date) National Artist for Architecture in 2018. The architectural design that incorporated hardwoods, coconuts, and other traditional materials was evident in the many masterpieces created by the late architect.  

From playing jazz to building structures

Born in Manila, Mañosa hailed from a prominent family. His parents were Manuel Mañosa Sr., a sanitary engineer who served as the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) director, and Maria Tronqued, a Philippine actress. While his love for the arts started when he was young, it wasn’t immediately oriented toward architecture. Mañosa used to play jazz piano and dreamed of building a career in music. However, life took him to a different path and directed him toward building houses upon his father’s prodding. He studied architecture at the University of Santo Tomas, graduating in 1953.  


Mañosa was a trailblazer who advocated Philippine design motifs and traditional materials in most of his design aesthetics. Most of his works alluded to the concept of bahay kubo and bahay na bato to keep the Philippine heritage alive. 

With his vision and dedication to Philippine values and history, Mañosa was successful in combining indigenous materials and modern technology to conceptualize and build structures that best suited the country’s tropical climate with sustainability in mind. 

Did you know? 

Francisco T. Mañosa may not have pursued a professional career in jazz music. Still, he enjoyed it nonetheless, performing with The Executives jazz combo and jamming with the late King Bhumibol of Thailand, who shared his love for the genre.  

Famous Works 

San Miguel Building, Ortigas Center, Pasig City  

Designed with the help of  Mañosa’s sons, the San Miguel Building in Ortigas Center is one of the national artist’s most outstanding works. The modernist ziggurat inspired by the Banawe Rice Terraces incorporated eco-friendly design fundamentals. It included slanted windows to deflect unwanted heat and light. The windows also come with angled sun breakers, an ode to the traditional nipa hut. Even the orientation (north-south) of the building was carefully thought out to help conserve energy. Tons of natural lighting also showered the interiors of the building.  

Our Lady of Peace Shrine, EDSA, Quezon City 

For the architect who was quoted as saying, “I design Filipino, nothing else,” the symbol of Our Lady of Peace Shrine in EDSA is indeed a testament to his love for his country. Collaborating with fellow National Artist Leandro Locsin and Architect William Coscolluela, the shrine followed the bahay kubo structural outline but with a few artistic changes to create a promenade showcasing the Blessed Virgin Mary. Now considered a cultural property by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the shrine will have the necessary funding for conservation and restoration.  

Tahanang Pilipino (Coconut Palace), CCP Complex, Manila 

Perhaps the most famous work that Mañosa did was the Tahanang Pilipino or Coconut Palace. Drawing from the concept of the tree of life, the entire complex was built using traditional materials, including coconut, bamboo, cogon, rattan, adobe, shell, and even ash collected from the Mt. Pinatubo eruption. It’s worth noting that even the furniture was fashioned from coconut trees, including the chandelier and dining table made from coconut shells. Symbolizing the Filipino’s warmth, the hexagonal domes of the palace were inspired by the salakot.  

Amanpulo Resort, Palawan 

Soulrider67 | Flickr 

The highly exclusive and posh Amanpulo Resort in Palawan is another example of Mañosa’s ingenuity in creating bahay kubo-inspired structures that remain unique in their own way. The deconstructed huts feature a sustainable design that allows natural lighting, use of renewable energy, and incorporation of traditional materials. Perfect for relaxation, the laid-back concept and feel of the resort have made it a go-to getaway for many celebrities and A-listers. His Amanpulo work has earned Mañosa several international awards, including the Asia-Pacific Interior Design Award for Hotel /Resort Category (1994) and the Gallivante’s Award for Best Beach Resort Worldwide (1994 and 1995). 

Pearl Farm Resort, Samal Island, Davao

Jimpg2_2015 | Flickr

The architectural design of the Pearl Farm Beach Resort is one for the books. Mañosa took inspiration from the stilt houses of the Badjao and Samal people during conceptualization. He fashioned the pavilion’s roofs with bamboo nodes and designed the stilt houses to use coconut, bamboo, and yakal. The result was a perfect showcase of the Mindanaoan culture.  

Final Thoughts

Now that you’re more familiar with the national artists for architecture and their work, it’s easier to appreciate the efforts for the conservation of Philippine architecture so that the next generation can still marvel at what remains of the national artists’ masterpieces. 

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