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LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE

AND DESIGN IN THE


PHILIPPINES

INTRODUCTION

The first decade of the new millennium


has brought both a few triumphs and
major setbacks for landscape
architecture and its professional practice
in the Philippines. The decade started on
a low, as the Asian financial crisis
brought property development to a
standstill. It ended on a high as recovery
was strong despite the worldwide
economic glitch in 2006-2008. Local
practitioners are optimistic but only if
major issues are dealt with.

The last ten years has seen increased


membership in the Philippine
Association of Landscape Architects.
There are now 225 members from 125.
The profession is now also fully
regulated with a strengthened law
(Republic Act 9053). Professionals must
be Filipinos and must register and
maintain a valid license to practice.

Within the past decade, the number of


universities offering courses in
landscape architecture has increased to
three from the lone institution- the
University of the Philippines. Degrees
in landscape architecture are now
offered north of Manila at the Bulacan
State University, and south of Manila in
Cebu province, at the University of San
Carlos. The degree programs in both
new sites are headed and staffed by
graduates of the University of the
Philippines and by a Filipino graduate of
the Harvard Graduate School of Design
(in the case of Cebu).

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WHEN DID LANDSCAPE
ARCHITECTURE STARTED IN THE
PHILIPPINES?

Landscape architecture got a major


boost in 2006 with the naming of
veteran landscape architect I.P. Santos
(a former IFLA official) as a National
Artist in Architecture and Allied Arts.
This is the highest honor bestowed on
the countrys creative geniuses. Santos
award put landscape architecture in the
spotlight and has reaped benefits for the
profession and its practitioners.

This increased awareness of the


profession has led to more project
opportunities for Filipino landscape
architects and firms.

Development has boomed in Manila and


other regions all through the decade,
except for a slight slowdown in 2006-
2008. Greenfield and brown field
developments abound. Inner city
redevelopment projects, with higher
density mixed-use complexes, all with
landscaped podiums or amenity floors,
have been the main sources of work for
many practitioners.

Government too, at the local and


regional levels, has been receptive to the
need for landscape architecture in the
design of infrastructure and civic spaces.

[But despite this,] the scenario has not


been completely positive for Filipino
landscape architects. Despite competent
education and extensive experience [of
local professionals], many local clients
turned to foreign landscape architecture
firms for their major projects.

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Many of these foreign firms offer
planning, urban design and landscape
architecture up to design development
stage. Locals are often called in late in
the process and given directives to just
follow the schemes prepared by these
foreign firms. What is discovered in a
good number of these designs is that the
local cultural use of spaces is unknown
or misunderstood, token nods to local
aesthetics are made, usually by lifting
patterns from local sourcebooks but
without understanding the context of the
Philippines and its multi-cultural
ethnicity. Manila and many other
regional centers of growth are seeing
TAGAYTAY HIGHLANDS GOLF AND
copies of landscapes imported almost
COUNTRY CLUB
wholly from abroad. The results are
borrowed landscapes with no cultural
specificity or real sense of place.

Philippine landscape architecture and


Filipino landscape architects are not
averse to ideas from other shores. In
cases allowed by local laws,
collaborative work is welcome. What
Filipino practitioners want to express to
fellow professionals in other countries, TAGAYTAY HIGHLANDS COUNTRY CLUB
and whose associations are members of
IFLA is that we prefer to work in an
environment of mutual professional
respect.

Filipino landscape architects work


within legal and professional firms
overseas because of their creativity and
dedication to their work. Many come
home wanting to join those still here,
and hoping to help evolve local
landscape architecture. They, we, hope,
to design Filipino landscapes for
Filipinosthe green spaces and settings
for modern private and communal lives,
landscapes that are global in outlook,
sustainable in growth, but proudly local
in cultural flavor and soul.

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years of his creative life and poured his
energies to mitigating the madness of
WHO IS THE FATHER OF LANDSCAPE modern lives that are much too
ARCHITECTURE IN THE PHILIPPINES? separated

If architecture is frozen music then


landscape architecture is the natural
theater within which it is enjoyed.
Appreciation of architecturethe
elegance of structures and the
experience of spaces within are
impossible without an external context.
This is especially true given our island
heritage and cultural affinity for the
tropical outdoors. It is this lack of
coherent physical settings that is a major
deficiency that prevents Filipinos from
enjoying Philippine architecture, and
that impedes Philippine architecture
from evolving fully. That situation is
beginning to change.
ILDEFONSO P. SANTOS

In the last forty years or so, the art of


landscape architecture, through its
practitioners, have labored to offer
correctives to the blight of our modern
urban and rural realities. Grand gardens
for the elite and the privileged were the
first products of modern landscape
architectural design but the art of
molding the landscape to enhance lives
and lifestyles soon moved to address
more public needs. The refreshing
gardens of a revived Paco Park, the
varied views of the Nayong Pilipino, PACO PARK
special gardens at the Luneta and
sculpture-filled outdoor malls at the
Ayala commercial center were all
welcome amenities that set a new
standard for designed outdoor space in
the country.

The artist responsible for all these was


Ildefonso P. Santos Jr. For this
pioneering work he is acknowledged by
his peers as the Father Of Modern
Philippine Landscape Architecture.
Santos has dedicated the last forty-five

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from nature. IP (as he is known to those
in the design fields) has designed
hundreds of parks, gardens, plazas,
courtyards, memorial parks, recreation
and leisure facilities, resorts, hotel
grounds, campuses, streetscapes and
cityscapes that have contributed to
improving the lives of Filipinos.

Santos also helped establish the first


university programs in landscape
architecture, as well as the Philippine
Association of Landscape Architects.

His creations have been enjoyed as well UNIVERSITY OF SANTO TOMAS


by Malaysians, Singaporeans, Chinese,
Vietnamese, Saudi Arabians,
Indonesians and even Americans, in
numerous key cities and destinations in
the world. He is one of the few Filipino
designers who have a body of built and
acknowledged work overseas.

Santos graduated from the University of


Santo Tomas in 1954 with a degree in
the field of architecture. He then
pursued a second degree in Architecture,
as well as a Master of Architecture
degree at the University of Southern UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN
California School of Architecture. CALIFORNIA SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE.

Santos made his first mark with the


Makati Commercial Center. Here
Santos introduced a new concept of
outdoor shopping with landscaped
walks, fountains and sculpture as
accents. Malls were still oriented to the
open air (a trend which is coming back
now) but downtown shopping had the
disadvantage of noise and pollution.

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Back in Manila the 80s brought a slight
slowdown in work but IP Santos kept
busy with teaching. He had helped set
up the first undergraduate program in
Landscape Architecture at the University
of the Philippines in 1975. He kept this
going while expanding the program to a
Masters program in Tropical Landscape
Architecture. In this decade he continues
his overseas work with the Gulf Hotel
in Bahrain, the Taiwan Golf &
MAKATI COMMERCIAL CEN Country Club in Taipei and the
Chung Kiaw Bank HQ in Kuala
Lumpur, Malaysia.
Another innovative landscape typology
that IP introduced was the picturesque
memorial parks. The Puyats were the
client and the resulting Loyola
Memorial Gardens and Parks became
a chain of sought-after memorial
gardens that today still set the standard.

IP Santos contribution in this first


decade of modern Filipino landscape
architecture was not limited to private
residences and developments. His
seminal public landscape was the Paco
Park. In the mid-60s the Paco
Cemetery, a Spanish-era heritage site
had deteriorated to a flood-prone
unkempt corner of old Manila. LOYOLA MEMORIAL GARDEN

Santos landscape designs graced the


grounds of a string of modern hotels in
Manila from the Hotel Intercontinental
Manila in Makati in 1969 to the grand
dame Manila hotel to five more hotels
built for the 1975 IMF-World Bank
meeting. This included the Manila
Peninsula Hotel, the Manila Mandarin
Hotel and the Hotel Nikko Manila, all in
Makati, along with the Sheraton Manila
and the Westin Philippine Plaza.
Santoss design for the huge free-form
Westin Plaza became the poster for the PACO PARK
hotel for the next decade and reflected
the hubris of that smiling Philippines
period.

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IP developed a tropical landscape
architecture style that made use of
endemic plant materials, local stone, arts
and crafts, metalwork all in a studied
casualness that made it distinct from
hard and cold western design. IP also
added soul to his creations by providing
lyrical settings for the sculptural work of
National Artists Napoleon Abueva and
THE GULF HOTEL IN BAHRAIN Arturo Luz along with a veritable
whos who of Philippine sculpture
namely Castrillo, Orlina, Caedo,
Saprid, Fernandez and a host of others.
The 1990s saw the resurgence of real
estate and more opportunities for
distinctive landscape design. In this
decade he designed the interior
plantscaping of the Asia World Hyatt
Taipei, the raised gardens of the New
World Hotel in Makati, the Artists
Village and the Light & Sound
Tableau (Rizals Execution) at the
Rizal Park, the Taicheung Housing THE ORCHARD GOLF AND COUNTRY
Complex in Taiwan, the NAIA CLUB
Centennial Terminal II, and the New
World Hotel in Ho Chi Minh,
Vietnam 1996.

In this decade Santos also tackled even


larger leisure projects exemplified by
the immensely popular Tagaytay
Highlands Resort, the well-laid out and
picturesque Mt. Malarayat Golf and
Country Club in Lipa, Batangas and
the colourful Orchard Golf and
Country Club in Imus, Cavite.

Even at the turn of the century and at the THE DUMAGUETE GOLF AND COUNTRY
CLUB IN NEGROS ORIENTAL
three decade mark, Santos did not let up
in his mission to create appropriate
settings for modern lives. He worked on
the Dumaguete Golf and Country
Club in Negros Oriental, the Makiling
Hills project in Laguna, the Pioneer
Highlands Complex in Pasig and the
Metropolis Green complex in Cavite.
He continuous work on these and a
dozen other projects to this day.

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all of whom would do well to emulate
his passion and help him continue his
good work. Our collective physical,
mental and creative wellbeing would
benefit immensely if only, as IP
teaches us, we learn to live, work and
build in harmony with nature.

A beautiful environment is necessary if only to


buoy up the sagging spirits and offer hope for
the future. The alternative is to invite
irreparable destruction of mind and spirit and a
complete loss of morale. For it is accepted
THE METROPOLIS GREEN COMPLEX IN that ugliness and discord of any sort disturbs
CAVITE. creates tension, and leaves an uncontrollable
depressing effect on an individual, usually
without his being aware of it. This is why I feel
that it is so important to surround people with
beauty. - Ildefonso P. Santos

Ildefonso P. Santos, a consummate artist


himself, deserves a long overdue salute.
The artistry of a man is made more
notable because he works in the most
difficult mediumnature: Gods earth,
plants, shrubs and trees. Santos has
moulded organic material, man-made
concrete and steel, as well as shaped the
land itself, to create special places
settings for myriad uses and a source of
unending enjoyment for countless users.

Beauty can recover order from chaos.


Our dysfunctional cities and
discordant lives can benefit from
ordering created by an
acknowledgement of the importance
of parks, trees and landscaped
settings. Such amenities can only be
planned, constructed and maintained
in the context of reconfigured
priorities in the way we shape our
surroundings as well as how we
steward our natural as well as our
cultural resources.

IP Santos has stewarded, not only the


land but also a profession, and two
generations of landscape architects;

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GLOSSARY

AMENITIES - a desirable or useful feature ECONOMICS - is a social science


or facility of a building or place. concerned with the factors that determine
the production, distribution, and
consumption of goods and services.
ARCHITECTURE FIRM - is a company
which specializes in providing architectural
services to clients. Such firms typically hire ELITE - is a term that originates from
architects along with support staff who help Latin eligere. In political and sociological
the architects do their jobs, and they may be theory for a small group of powerful people
part of a larger company which handles that controls a disproportionate amount of
many aspects of the design and construction wealth, privilege or political power in a
process, from contracting to interior society.
decorating.

GREENFIELD - was originally used in


CIVIC SPACES - are an extension of the construction and development to reference
community. When they work well, they land that has never been used (e.g. green or
serve as a stage for our public lives. new), where there was no need to demolish
or rebuild any existing structures.

CRISIS - is any event that is, or is expected


to lead to, an unstable and dangerous SUSTAINABILITY -
situation affecting an individual, group, (from sustain and ability) is the property
community, or whole society. of biological systems to remain diverse and
productive indefinitely. Long-lived and
healthy wetlands and forests are examples of
CULTURAL - relating to the ideas, sustainable biological systems. In more
customs, and social behavior of a society. general terms, sustainability is the endurance
of systems and processes. The organizing
principle for sustainability is sustainable
DEVELOPMENT - The process of development, which includes the four
economic and social transformation that is interconnected domains: ecology,
based on complex cultural and economics, politics and culture.
environmental factors and their interactions.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

https://joeybalgos.wordpress.com/2010/07/02/philippine-landscape-architecture-for-2000-2010/

http://www.rappler.com/life-and-style/arts-and-culture/49277-national-artist-ildefonso-santos-jr-passes-
away
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ildefonso_P._Santos_Jr.

https://joeybalgos.wordpress.com/tag/designer-green-issue/

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-an-architecture-firm.htm

http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/G/greenfield.html

http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/development.html

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