March 27, 2017, 8:38 pm
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Bobby Mañosa; Quintessential Filipino architect

Architect Francisco “Bobby” Mañosa, known for his Filipino design philosophy, is passing on to his children a legacy that would  transcend time.

Six decades and 50 landmark projects  will not define Bobby’s illustrious career as the next-generation Mañosas are bent on carrying  the torch for Philippine architecture their father championed.

“I design Filipino, nothing else,”  was Bobby’s mantra as a celebrated architect. This mantra set him apart from the rest. 

From conceptualizing the Coconut Palace, to creating the EDSA Shrine, to designing Amanpulo, Pearl Farm, the LRT and other iconic Filipino landmarks, Bobby Mañosa has always taken his country and his craft seriously – to the point of turning down potentially lucrative projects simply because they were not in line with his philosophy that “architecture must be true to itself, its land and its people.”

 “That means Philippine architecture for the Philippines,” said Francisco  Jr. or Dino,  CEO of the Mañosa Group of Companies, and founder and CEO of Mañosa Properties, the group’s real estate arm.

“The vision for the company moving forward will really be how we can make Philippine architecture, or that philosophy, relevant today,” Dino said.

Dino said the Group always goes  back to the design philosophy of the bahay kubo  (nipa hut) which later became the bahay na bato, then into what is today’s Philippine modern architecture.

Bobby in previous interviews described the bahay kubo as the original sustainable house that embodies the principles of climate-conscious architecture. 

Built from readily available sustainable materials, the bahay kubo has distinct features: a high pitched thatch roof that insulates the interior from the heat of the sun and rain and stilts design for cross ventilation  laterally (from the large windows) and vertically (from the “silong” or basement).

Much  like the industrialists of his generation, Bobby contributed to nation-building through his architecture, which is  distinctively Filipino.

“Had he been a cook or a chef, he would have probably just cooked Filipino food or put up a Filipino restaurant,” Dino added.

Today, the Mañosa   Group keeps the vision alive in its different companies and different divisions, always looking at how to Filipinize to promote Filipino design and architecture. By doing so, the Mañosa siblings hope to inspire others to do the same.

According to  Dino, the Group  furthers their inspiration of the bahay kubo by modernizing that design to today’s needs, taking into consideration the requirements of the end-user and the contour of the land.

Miguel Angelo Mañosa, CEO of Mañosa and Co. Inc. and managing partner of A. Mañosa + Architects, said in any residential  or commercial project, true to their spirit, they always begin with the bahay kubo.

“We believe there is still much to learn with regards to the fundamentals of the house. We adapt these fundamentals in every design we do, be it a commercial, institutional, ecclesiastical or residential development. We believe learning from the past is the best way to design for the future,” Gelo added.

Bambi Mañosa-Tanjutco, director of Interior Design at Mañosa and Co., also still applies several of her father’s trademark design features in every project that they take on.

In her projects, Bambi upgrades local materials and applies them in different forms to accent walls, counters and cabinetry, to furniture and soft furnishings, fabrics etc.

She also introduces the “banggerahan” concept in the kitchen which is a typical feature in a bahay kubo.

Bambi provides  little  touches of Filipino design in  the interiors,   incorporating plants and floor lamps and using only warm white lights.

Dino said  there could be a misnomer that Bobby Mañosa only designs out of sawali and bamboo. He also dispels common notion that today, these materials are no longer relevant.

According to  Dino, his father would always try to push the use modern bamboo flooring  or modern bamboo wall not just because they are indigenous materials.

“There was a reason why he chose that. It was really because bamboo (is) the greenest type of material you can use anywhere and he loved the use of it. He wanted to uplift the material to let people accept it: that bamboo or rattan is not just for the poor or the farmer but it can be enjoyed by presidents and kings and tycoons,” Dino said.

And this still holds true for Mañosa ’s projects whether that’d be Mañosa Properties or in the architectural department or the furniture.

Dino laments the fact that some Filipinos have stopped  designing for the Filipino climate, or worse, for the Filipino culture due in part to the many influences of Western architecture.

Gelo added: ”I believe that the Filipino’s sense of national pride has changed. This has influenced their taste in architecture.”

The Mañosas constantly look for ways to incorporate new designs, new elements still with the Filipino culture and the bahay kubo in mind.

In fact, Dino believes the basic elements of bahay  kubo to this day remain extremely viable -- from the long eaves to cross ventilation to local materials, if possible.” All that is very viable.”

Gelo said over the years, there has been much innovation in materials since his father’s  time.

“Today, there are so many choices, the limit would just be your imagination. We use these new material innovations to our advantage by coming up with creative designs which complement our architecture and interior design,” Gelo said.

Dino added: “We always innovate to today’s technology, what’s available out in  the market. That’s always a thinking process that all the designers go through.”

For Dino there is no one project that can embody the group’s brand image because of the many types of Philippine architecture projects the Group has done.

“You can go very indigenous like the Pearl Farm or you can go very modern sleek like Amanpulo. And you can go very pure and creative like the Coconut Palace,” he said.

But for Dino, the next project will always be better than the last one.

 For Bambi, Amanpulo and Campanilla Lane typify the contemporary while Pearl Farm, Eskaya and the Mañosa residence are the showcase projects for the vernacular.

Today, the Mañosa Group is pushing an advocacy very close to the improvement of Filipino design. The Group supports local weavers and craftsmen and help them level up their products to be acceptable in its projects. Typically, it supports local craftsmen from the areas where its projects are located.

Through its foundation TUKOD, the Mañosa Group creates centers and spaces for less fortunate children. It also mentors future leaders by exposing and inspiring them to lead projects that they wish to support through its K4K – or Kids for Kids – youth advocacy.

To celebrate Bobby’s  more than six decades of his legacy, an exhibit dubbed “Mañosa: Beyond Architecture’ runs until May at the National Museum of the Philippines. The exhibit showcases over 50 landmark projects from Bobby’s prolific career, including original drawings and models never before seen by the public. Archived photographs, samples of vernacular materials, furniture, and interior elements, are also featured. The exhibition also explores Bobby’s other creative pursuits as a jazz musician, toy designer, and designer of craft. 
To further inspire new and upcoming generations of Filipino architects and designers, a lecture series runs concurrently with the exhibit, on selected Saturdays from until May 6, 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the National Museum Auditorium.  
The “Mañosa: Beyond Architecture” lecture series includes topics on art, architecture and design, Philippine textiles and building materials, Filipino culture and identity, nationalism and nation-building.
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