The UAP Celebrates 100 years of Architecture in the Philippines

April 28, 2021



Shan Arcega

Architecture has come a long way since the prominence of Maestro de Obras.

The architects and engineers law was passed in 1921. Under this law, the difference in the examination for architects and engineers became more prominent while the mandate for Maestro de Obra (then known as builders) to be automatically registered as architects was also made known. Once this law was passed, the Philippines had Tomas Mapua recognized as the first Philippine architect. Before the law was passed though, one only took architectural studies as a Maestro de Obra. This was a vague status that was difficult to work with after more Filipinos successfully went abroad to study the practice before returning home where the need to regulate a law between architects and engineers started to grow.

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But architecture has come a long way since then. This 2021, the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) leads the celebration of the 100 years of architecture in the Philippines to commemorate this progress. A centennial celebration, it started off with an architectural-historical tour in the walled city of Intramuros, Manila on February 23. 

This tour led by the UAP and the participants of the Architecture Centennial Coordinating Committee was a journey that visited specific landmarks in the history of architecture such as the Ayuntamiento de Manila (where the city council approved the inception of the Escuela Practica de Artes y Oficios-the school that created the official course for maestro de obras), Intendencia (the building where the Philippine Legislature drafted act 2985), and Mapua University (the first architectural school in the country).

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Alongside this tour was the live webinar last March titled, Paper Trails: Discovering and Identifying Historic Landscape. Here, architects and designers looked back on the country’s architectural and historical landscapes, and discussed the importance of history and how it can inspire change for the built heritage. 


We already live in a modern world but this does not mean that modernity cancels out history. “Being at the crossroads of modernization and the past is both a blessing and a challenge,” Architect Renato A. Heray, FUAP and current president of the UAP says in an article about the event, “We are blessed to have witnessed the magnificent creations of the men and women builders before us that serve as our inspiration. On the other hand, it poses a bigger challenge to create an even better built environment that can contribute to the people’s welfare and the country’s overall progress.”

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