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5 National Artists Who Were Architects

Get to know them, because architects are heroes, too

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Photography: Marco P. Gutang (Main Photo)

When one mentions the words "National Artist," visual artists and writers such as Fernando Amorsolo, Ang Kiukok, and Virgilio Almario come to mind. But the Order of National Artists covers many categories, from music and dance to film and broadcasting arts, and of course, architecture, design, and its allied arts. 

Those who have been inducted into the order and bestowed this highest state honor have made great contributions, not only to their own field, but to succeeding generations of Filipinos. Here are five architects who are National Artists:

Juan Nakpil


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Nakpil is also famously known as the son of two Katipuneros, Julio Nakpil and Gregoria de Jesus (Andres Bonifacio's widow). He started out as a civil engineer, but went on to design important Filipino buildings such as the University of the Philippines-Diliman Administration and Library Buildings, the art deco Quezon Institute and Capitol Theater (now being threatened by demolition), and the defunct Rizal Theater. Nakpil founded the Philippine Architects' Society in 1933, now known as the Philippine Institute of Architects (PIA). 

READ: Architecture Heroes - 4 Famous Buildings by Juan Nakpil

Pablo Antonio


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The Binondo-born Antonio was mentored by Tomas Mapua, but then had to drop out of school. He was then sent to the University of London by his patron Don Ramon Arevalo, and it was here that he earned his architecture degree. He was celebrated for his art deco style, which was a departure from the neoclassicism that reigned back then. Some of his works include the Far Eastern University main building, the White Cross Children's Home, the Manila Polo Club, and the Ideal, Lyric, and Galaxy Theaters.

READ: Architecture Heroes - 3 Art Deco Buildings By Pablo Antonio

Leandro Locsin


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Locsin is known for his mastery of scale and volume, and created many stunning, midcentury modern masterpieces in his time, including the iconic Cultural Center of the Philipines (CCP), the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), The Westin Hotel (Sofitel Philippine Plaza), the Folk Arts Theater, Tanghalang Maria Makiling, and the original Ayala Museum.

Ildefonso P. Santos, Jr.


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Ildefonso "IP" Santos pioneered the practice of Landscape Architecture in the Philippines, a practice that was often overlooked in the design industry until fairly recently. Aside from his longtime teaching practice, the "Father of Philippine Landscape Architecture" worked on landscaping for the Manila Hotel, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Paco Park, Rizal Park, and Tagaytay Highlands, among many others. 

Jose Maria Zaragoza


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The latest recipient of the National Artist honor (2014) studied Liturgical Art (IILA) in Rome in the 1950s, which in turn made Zaragoza the perfect architect for many popular Philippine churches and religious institutions, such as the Santo Domingo Church, the Pink Sisters and San Beda Convents, Don Bosco Church, our Lady of Rosary in Tala, and many others. He also designed the iconic Meralco Building along Merlaco Avenue. 

SOURCE: United Architects of the Philippines official website

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