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Architecture and Design Inspired by Philippine Landmarks and Materials from the Mind of the Mañosas

) Katrina Gadong |

While many local designers struggle to incorporate their heritage and identity to adapt and stay relevant to the modern times, Architect Francisco "Bobby" Mañosa has continued to champion the Filipino aesthetic throughout the ages. Recently recognized as the National Artist for Architecture in October 2018, he has long believed that "architecture must be true to itself, its land, and its people"—and this principle has always been evident in his works.

From residential and commercial commissions to religious structures and even public transportation hubs (like the LRT-1 stations in downtown Manila), Mañosa shows his true nationalist self by returning to his roots and utilizing local styles and materials. He also often draws inspiration from some of the landmark spots across the country as well as distinctly Filipino elements. Below we list three of Mañosa's famous creations that easily transport its visitor to another place and time in the Philippine map and history book.

San Miguel Corporation Headquarters 
(inspired by the Banaue Rice Terraces)

Along with his equally-brilliant brothers Manuel and Jose, Bobby designed the complex for San Miguel Corporation in Ortigas Center. Employees that report to the building structure (and visitors alike) are treated to a visual spectacle that resembles the World Heritage Site located in Ifugao and could easily be the Eighth Wonder of the World, the Banaue Rice Terraces. The unique, stepped design is best seen and appreciated by surrounding skyscrapers, especially with the lush greenery spilling from the building’s façade landscaped by another National Artist, architect Ildefonso Santos, Jr.

Pearl Farm Beach Resort 
(inspired by the Stilt Houses of Sulu)

Beautiful tropical resorts designed by Mañosa have followed green architecture principles way before the term was coined, and embraced the Philippines' tropical climate, not worked against it. These structures are characterized by high ceilings and wide-open to non-existent windows to make air circulate and to allow natural cooling and lighting, respectively. 

Made of native materials such as bamboo, coconut, and yakal, the design of Pearl Farm Beach Resort on Samal Island in the Davao Gulf takes cues from the traditional houses on stilts that the seafaring tribes of Mindanao—the Samal and the Badjao—build above the water. The northeast end of the resort even follows the layout of a traditional Samal village, with houses clustered together.

The Coconut Palace 
(inspired by the bahay na bato or stone house and salakot or farmer's hat)

Showcasing the versatility of the coconut, the "tree of life of the tropics," Tahanang Pilipino—more popularly known as The Coconut Palace—in Pasay, the former official residence of the Vice President of the Philippines, is literally its nickname: a grand mansion made out of coconut wood and the tree’s byproducts. Expressing true Filipino artistry and hospitality, Mañosa derived the structure's form from the bahay na bato ancestral home, with a roof that is shaped like a salakot. 

Aside from coconut, his design firm advocates the use of other indigenous materials like bamboo, rattan, cogon, shell, adobe, and even ash from the Pinatubo volcano eruption. They also incorporate the structural and decorative details of the traditional bahay kubo (hut), which they deem appropriate not only for our country’s culture, but also its harsh sun, strong wind and rains, and warm climate.*