UAP: Upholding the master builders` domain

August 26, 2018 | By: GELYKA RUTH DUMARAOS (first published in The Manila Times last August 22, 2018)

Vertical structures are carefully planned and designed with functionality, safety, and sustainability while making them aesthetically pleasing. To do this, architects are needed.

But while their importance as master builders is known within their circle, there’s need to bring the profession closer to the public mindset.

Thus, the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP), the premier organization of architects in the country, has one clear message for the masses: For your plans and designs, get an architect.

This, according to UAP national president Ar. Benjamin K. Panganiban Jr., is a direct message to reach out and promote the profession. 

“UAP wants the society to realize that the design of vertical structures is the work of the architect,” Panganiban says.

“We aim to educate and create advocacy so that society will be able to understand the roles and functions of an architect,” he explains.

“And in so doing, we will be able to perform what is legally right, we can provide the basic responsibilities of a professional,” he adds.

Promoting the profession

UAP, also known as the Integrated and Accredited Professional Organization of Architects (IAPOA), has gone a long way in upholding architecture in the Philippines.

From then being called as Maestro de Obras or Master Builders in the 1900s under the Spanish government, the profession of Architecture in the country has been strengthened with the founding of the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) in 1975.

UAP was an integration of three separate associations of architects which were established from the early 1930s to the late 50s. These are the League of Philippine Architects (LPA), the Association of the Philippine Government Architects (APGA), and the Philippine Institute of Architects (PIA).

Today, with over 43, 000 members under 158 strong chapters worldwide, the 44-year-old UAP serves as the vanguard of the architecture profession in the country.

However, Panganiban notes hindrances in making the profession known. One of the challenges the profession faces in the ever-changing landscape of the construction industry is the overlapping of practice between architects and other allied professions.

In some cases, there are people illegally practicing the roles of architects which is an ongoing concern for the organization.

According to the Architecture Act of 2004 or R.A No. 9266, only duly licensed architects can legally sign architectural plans and documents. Building officers can’t accept architectural plans not signed by an architect.

Notably, under the old Architecture Law or R.A No. 545, civil engineers were expressly exempted from the general rule that only architects can sign architectural documents. This exemption was removed in R.A 9266.

With this, in its position paper on the implementation and enforcement of R.A 9266, UAP stands firm that the architectural profession is delineated from other professions, such as civil engineering, and that no other can prepare and sign architectural documents than architects themselves.

“It is high time that the Filipino public is assured that only individuals who have been properly educated, qualified and trained will undertake the planning and design of a building and be held responsible for such acts,” the paper reads.

Architects for nation-building

While UAP is pushing for the enforcement of the law, it’s also calling its members to actively participate in advocating information dissemination about their works.

Panganiban stresses the importance of a good design in accordance with modern trends and technology while contributing to the growth of society.

He also highlights the profession’s contribution through building disaster-resilient structures, sustainable designs that preserve the environment and historical heritage, and urban designs which boost tourism.

Moreover, UAP wants to debunk the notion that architectural work is only for the higher class.

“We are not only for the rich and famous but we are also for our less fortunate brothers and sisters,” he says.

UAP has engaged in humanitarian efforts as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) works. Recently, it has collaborated with both private and public sectors for the Marawi Rehabilitation School Building Project.

The organization also formed partnerships for Gawad Kalinga and home-for-the-elderly GRACES Home in Quezon City among others.

Chapters are also encouraged to reach out to local government units and make their presence felt so they can extend their help in building designs which can benefit the public.

UAP’s laudable work to its members and the public is evidently seen through its years of reaping achievements.

Just recently, the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) granted UAP with the “Outstanding Accredited Professional Organization (APO) of the Year.” This is UAP’s seventh APO award since 2002.

“We are proud of that and it speaks well of our organization. How we function and how we take care of our members,” Panganiban says.

As the premier organization of architects in the country, UAP continues to lead its members for training and development, with their Continuing Professional Development (CPD) program.

In fact, Panganiban is directing all district directors and chapter presidents to offer free or at the most minimal cost of CPD seminars and training, in adherence to UAP’s service to its members.

World-class Filipino architects

For Panganiban, who hails from Davao and is the first UAP national president from Mindanao, Filipino architects are competently at par with their international counterparts.

Currently, there are 54 APEC Architects and 99 Asean Architects accredited in the Philippines.

An Asean and APEC architect himself, Panganiban notes how Filipino architects are being sought after in different parts of the world like the Middle East, Shanghai, Singapore, and the United States.

“Filipinos architects are very creative,” he says. “If you go to any part of the world, you will find most offices fully equipped with Filipino architects.”

As he leads UAP this year, Panganiban envisions every member to believe on the organization’s direction: Let architecture be known to the public.

“As we move forward,” he says, “I want them to be united behind me. I want them to totally believe in this message. If the people know what an architect does, the profession is promoted and the architect is protected as well.”