23 August 2009

Why I nominate Architect Francisco Mañosa as National Artist

I nominate Architect Francisco “Bobby” Mañosa because he pursued his vision of what is Filipino in his art. Mañosa’s sustained and committed vision to promote Philippine culture by delving deeper into his roots, acknowledging the Filipinos love of open spaces, our family ties and communal spirit, our respect for family values, our rich natural resources and materials, our tropical climate, and fused all that is inherent and indigenous to the Filipinos by designing and building structures that throb of the Filipino's material and spiritual wealth.

Amanpulo, Palawan, 1994

By pursuing his quest for what can be regarded as Philippine Architecture and the Filipino design, Mañosa did not only rebuilt the native hut bahay kubo and the colonial bahay na bato concept but delved deeper into the essence of the simple hut and the assimilation of colonial influences that marked our Filipino heritage to create and elevate these structures into modern contemporary landscapes.

Arnaiz House, Punta Fuego, Batangas, 2000

Mañosa’s creative genius saw the exciting potentials of the local stones like shells and other abundant materials like bamboo, rattan, coconut, and transformed them into excellent architectural components and accessories as laminated bamboo, rattan weaves, shell inlays. By doing so, Mañosa facilitated the birth of an industry and cooperatives to fabricate and supply high-quality components sourced from the materials around them for architectural projects and products.

Bamboo and Anahaw leaves for the roof and walls
Coconut shell chandeliers, rice paper wrappers as glass top
and thousands of multicolored coconut shells inlay

Mañosa’s landmark Tahanang Pilipino or more popularly known as the Coconut Palace, is a landmark design in that it fuses elements of both the bahay kubo and bahay na bato and showcased the versatility of the coconut. From coconut wood parquet for the floors to coconut fiber carpeting, wallpaper from the fibrous sheath and coconut shell inlay for the décor, the Tahanang Pilipino is a grand mansion built with the richness of these local materials. Only in the hands of a gifted and highly artistic mind like Mañosa can elevate the coconut and other local materials as a rich architectural materials worthy for a mansion as the Tahanang Pilipino, an important monument and testimony to the excellence of Filipino design and artistry!

Tahanang Pilipino (Filipino House), Manila, 1980
I remember my family proudly touring all our local and foreign guests
in this beautiful mansion long before I met the
Mañosa family.

Mañosa’s concern for the environment and the concept of green architecture, the climate responsive building like the corporate headquarters of the San Miguel Corporation were envisioned and built by Mañosa as early as the 70s and was inspired by the Banaue rice terraces, another testament to the creative spirit of the Filipinos whose resourcefulness and genius made their environment respond to their needs. Taking inspiration from the ingenuity of his ancestors, Mañosa envisioned structures that respond not only to the Filipino’s culture and temperament but also to local elements like the weather and the environment. Mañosa designed and built structures that must be sturdy to withstand rain and storms, provide ample protection from heat and rain, and designed open and well-ventilated spaces to highlight the Filipino hospitality and love for family and community gatherings.

Mañosa Residence, Alabang, 1983
Notice the wall-less "silong" (basement) and living areas
maximizing natural light and ventilation!
I witnessed several events in this beautiful house
and I continue to marvel at its multi-functional spaces.

Ateneo Professional School, Makati, 2000
Notice the open spaces and natural light!

Mary Immaculate Parish, Las Piñas, 1988
Notice the white capiz shell doves flying and providing light!

Hofileña House, Paranaque, 1997

Mañosa’s excellence and dedication to his art are generously shared by more than a hundred architects, artists and craftsmen who worked and collaborated with him through the years. Mañosa’s impressive list of architectural landmarks are recognized by local and international groups like the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) who conferred on Mañosa the highest award given to a Fellow of the UAP: Likha Gold Medal Award and the Design Award for Architecture (from 1994 to 1997!), the Gawad CCP Para sa Sining (Architecture), the Asia-Pacific Interior Design Award, the Department of Tourism’s Kalakbay Award, the City of Manila’s Patnubay ng Kalinangan Award, Gallivanter’s Award for Excellence, and Asiaweek’s one of seven visionaries in Asian architecture.

And more importantly, Mañosa's quest for excellence does not only rest in the pursuit of his art. For Mañosa, his love for his Filipino roots, culture and tradition marked the same passion he has for his family and the community. The Mañosa family are known to be community pillars, active in the role of fostering the community’s love for art and culture by organizing events like musicals, exhibitions, art workshops, fairs featuring local artists and craftsmen, products and produce, and practically create a living museum of his own home by opening it for study tours for architecture students, fellow architects and builders, and lovers of beautiful architecture who wanted to personally experience the world-class bahay kubo and bahay na bato home in a modern contemporary setting.

"The Order of National Artists
is one of the Honors of the Philippines
that embodies the nation’s highest ideals
in humanism and aesthetic expression
through the distinct achievements of individual citizens.
While the Republic bestows due recognition
to these singular achievements,
it in turn honors its own cultural heritage,
whose enrichment these achievements
have significantly effected, enhanced, and given direction.
These achievements are measured in terms of their vision,
unusual insight, creativity and imagination,
technical proficiency of the highest order in expressing
Filipino culture and traditions,
history, way of life, and aspirations"

The guidelines for the nomination for the Order of National Artists are as follows:

Artists who through the content and form of their works have contributed in building a Filipino sense of nationhood;

Artists who have pioneered in a mode of creative expression or style, thus, earning distinction and making an impact on succeeding generations of artists;

Artists who have created a substantial and significant body of works and/or consistently displayed excellence in the practice of their art form thus enriching artistic expression or style; and

Artists who enjoy broad acceptance through: prestigious national and/or international recognition, such as the Gawad CCP Para sa Sining, CCP Thirteen Artists Award and NCCA Alab ng Haraya; critical acclaim and/or reviews of their works; respect and esteem from peers.

Architect Francisco Mañosa and his art responds to all of these criteria and yet for some reason we chose to ignore his significant contribution to Philippine Art by not accepting his nominations through the years!

Great artists transcend the material and bare their souls to craft great works of art. Mañosa did no less. Great architecture are like frozen sculptures, like a grand symphony of an orchestra in perfect harmony, the effortless ballerina on tiptoe defying gravity and expressing profound movements in a dance, and the significant murals that embody the spirit and thought of a true artist. A true artist creates works of art that must be honored, preserved and promoted as treasures of our land.

Architect Francisco Mañosa is a National Artist
and he deserves nothing less.

Updated August 26: I failed to nominate Architect Mañosa because I missed the deadline and failed to read the public announcement of its submission. I am also not qualified to submit my nomination as an individual but I would have submitted mine directly to the Office of the President together with the signatures of people who wanted to nominate him too. This is the gray area in the process which must be reviewed. All nominations not accepted by the panel of experts can be considered by the President for review. An individual MUST be able to nominate as long as he can accompany his nomination with supporting signatures from other individuals. I can easily gather signatures from a National Artist, professionals like doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects, bankers, the religious, students, community leaders, artists, art managers, cultural workers, and the public! etc. Architect Mañosa was nominated by his peers and bypassed even by the institution who awarded him a Gawad Sining for Architecture. Something is definitely wrong with the process and when that happens, you can not call that DUE PROCESS. It is now the Court's turn to study ALL nominations that passed for review and evaluate if proper selection was indeed exercised by ALL the panel of experts. To put the matters into the hands of the Supreme Court now sets an important precedent and hopefully put the process under review. Please check my August 13 post on the National Artist Award too.

NOTE: Images used in this post were taken from the book on Architect Mañosa : Designing Filipino by Eric Caruncho published by the Tukod Foundation in 2003. I hope the publisher and the Mañosa family will accept my apologies for using the materials in the book to properly illustrate my statements. A clear and beautiful presentation of Architect Mañosa's works and philosophies on art can be found in this book which is a collector’s item and can be accessed through his site at www.mañosa.com