Social responsibility of architects a driving force for progress - Part 2
September 20, 2018 | By: Arch. Benjamin K. Panganiban, Jr., (first published in The Manila Times last September 19, 2018)
Second of two parts
Several chapters heeded this call and positively impacted the architects’ social dimension in cities. Some of their significant achievements are the construction of a Child Development Center in Zamboanga by the UAP Zamboanga Chavacano chapter headed by Chapter President Arch. Mark Gandarosa.
The smiles of young beneficiaries and the happiness of their parents and social workers were enough to soften the hearts of architects.
Then there were the Landan Health Center and Birthing Home built by the UAP Socsksargen Chapter headed by its president Freddie Doctor of Gensan City. The projects were for the B’laan tribe in Landan, Polomolok, South Cotabato. They were implemented in partnership with Health Futures Foundation Inc.
Also for the benefit of the same tribe is the Steps to Wellness Initiatives, which was undertaken in partnership with South Cotabato Governor Daisy Avance-Fuentes and Polomolok Mayor Honey Lumayag- Matti. Located in the hinderlands of the pineapple landscape, the project was viewed by architects as an important feature for the welfare of indigenous tribes in the locality.
It was a truly heartwarming and touching experience for the architects when they celebrated the inauguration and turn-over of the completed projects to the B’laan tribes last August 26, 2018.
Architects also got involved in the Build Build Build program of President Rodrigo Duterte where they contributed various expertise for the development of the country. They went out of their comfort zones to offer government valuable advices on building.
The Mindanao Railway System is one priority project where a lot of architects participated in the formulation, discussion and implementation stages.
On architectural heritage preservation, the advocate warriors headed by Sentro Arkitekto Executive Director Robert Benedict Hermoso and Vice Chairman Arch. Joel Vivero Rico rallied architects to champion the cause of preserving architectural legacies at the risk of being torn down due to the construction of several bridges along the Pasig River.
These heritage conservationists have partnered with several groups to work out with the government on the right approach to build the bridges without destroying historical landmarks.
Such dedication to social responsibilities complementing social progress is a balancing act the architects see in advance and mitigate changes for the better.
UAP National has also created a committee that deals with the natural and man-made calamities — the UAP Emergency Architects headed by Arch. Jose Miranda.
Formed in 2013, the committee deals with social impacts of displaced or marginalized sectors of society.
Today, they are collaborating with various NGOs not only to provide alternative temporary shelters but also to include in their mandate the development of the physical shelter components of displaced families affected by man-made events such as the Marawi siege.
UAP National is likewise after the understanding of society on the importance of religious structures. This activity is now chaired by Arch. Marie Stephanie Magdalena N. Gilles.
Meanwhile, architects teamed up with the Environment Department last January 24, 2018 for the preservation of the environment in Ilocos.
UAP Secretary General Arch. Ronnie Yumang and a number of ecologists committed themselves to preserve the ecological conditions of the protected landscapes and seascapes in Bangui.
Also worthy to note is the CSR project of UAP Metro Cebu Chapter headed by then President Glicerio Villacorta and supervised by Arch. Ralf Monteza in Kinatracan Island where the Kinatarcan Wellness Resort was built in partnership with a number of entities.
They include I Love Foundation of Gina Lopez; the NGO Southern Partners and Fair Trade Cebu (SPFTC) ; the Order of Saint Augustine Sto. Nino Cebu; Hotel, Resort and Restaurant of Cebu (HRAC) ; and the Armed Forces of the Phil. R7 Engineering Brigade.
The project involved the native fisherfolks who helped develop their locality into tourist destination which eventually led to the improvement of their plight.
Relative to all of these social responsibilities is the purpose and intent of UAP to promote the practice of architecture, making the advocacy of teaching society the value and importance of architecture in nation-building.
We are reaching out to local governments and society to let them know that architects don’t only make aesthetically beautiful structures that last a lifetime, they also do works that put premium on their value.
They are the master builder of vertical structures and at the same time the partner in dealing with environmental concerns, heritage preservation, tourism-related activities, solid waste management systems, physical and comprehensive land use planning, urban and rural planning and design, vertical construction management and more.
In the midst of a social activity or social responsibility project, chances are you will find an architect deeply involved in it.
Deeply ingrained in his frame of mind is the need to create, shape or change the society he lives in.
The architect will offer his services where he can put to good use his creative talent. He firmly believes he is a prime mover of change, a master builder in the built environment and a conscious member of society for the marginalized sector.
For an architect, he owns the space to built on. Given the chance to build, his creativity to plan and design to help others will be put to good use.
The writer is the current National President of the United Architects of the Philippines and the first national president coming from Mindanao. He has been in the private practice for more than 33 years and is a Fellow of the UAP. He is also the first Asean Architect and APEC Architect coming from Davao City. He is a graduate of B.S. Architecture from the University of Mindanao and is also a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Architects Singapore.)