May 26, 2015 
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The Architecture Academe in the Philippines
Architect Gerard Rey A. Lico
The Early Forms of Architecture Education

       Contrary to popular belief, the Philippines was inhabited by civilized and cultured people long before the Spaniards set foot in 1521.The theory that the early Filipinos were not merely passive recipients of trading goods and ideas but were also mediators and givers of such is backed up by a number of archeological and anthropological evidences. This was even recorded by the early chroniclers of Java, China, India and as far as Persia and Arabia.

       It actually surprised Pigafetta to discover that most of the natives could even read and write through a unique system of writing and language. He recognized a sense of order in the early society, taking the form of a simple government and institution such as the barangay. These institutions were vehicles for learning the communal traditions. Through a system of writing, oral tradition and other indigenous modes of cultural media, knowledge and tradition, including the art and craft of construction, transcends barriers of generation.

       The builders of ethnic houses had no formal training in schools. Their knowledge of materials, site selection, methods of construction and occupancy, with accompanying system of customs, beliefs and mythology were learned from their elders and masters of the community. Specific skills such as carving, jointing, and others were learned through master-apprentice relations.

       The absence of a systematic education plan for the indios during the Spanish colonial regime consequently discouraged the formation of an educational institution for the academic teaching of architecture. To augment this deficiency, the Spanish government founded in 1890 the Escuela Practica y Professional de Artes y oficios de Manila which bestowed the title maestro de obras (maestro de obras).

Present State of Architecture Education

       The chronology of events that lead to the form and character of current architecture education in the Philippines follows:


Foundation of the Liceo de Manila, a private institution offering academic course for maestro de obras and headed by Leon Ma. Guerrero.


Foundation of the Academia de Arquitectura y Agrimensura de Filipinas, a professional organization merging the practitioners of architecture, civil engineering and surveying. This organization was later renamed Academia de Ingenieria, Arquitectura y Agrimensura de Filipinas


The above-mentioned Academia merged with the Liceo and established the Escuela de Ingeniera y Arquitectura, which offered a five-year course in architecture and civil engineering.


The Escuela ceased to operate after its first year of inception.


The above-named Escuela was reorganized and reopened its doors to students but this time offered a three-year course for architecture, civil engineering and electrical engineering.


The Escuela was closed.


The Mapua Institute of Technology was founded. It offered, aside from engineering courses, a four-year degree course leading to a degree in architecture.


The University of Santo Tomas (founded in 1911) opened its School of Fine Arts and Architecture.


Adamson University opened its school of architecture.

The Philippine College of Design was founded. However, the Pacific War interrupted its operation and never reopened after the war.


The Manila-centric education in architecture was challenged by the Cebu Institute of Technology by the opening of its school of architecture, the first architecture school outside Manila.


The National University instituted its school of architecture.


The Mindanao Colleges established its school of architecture, the first architecture school in Mindanao (it closed in 1953).

       The following school opened their school of architecture in:


Far Eastern Air Transport, Inc. (FEATI)


University of San Carlos (Cebu City)


Far Eastern University


Manuel L. Quezon University

Francisco Colleges


University of the Philippines

1960 University of San Agustin (Iloilo City)


Saint Louis University (Baguio City)

1970 University of Mindanao (Davao City)

       Currently, there are 67 schools of architecture throughout the country, 16 of which are in the National Capital Region and 44 of which are accredited educational institution.

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About the Author:
Gerard Rey A. Lico is a University of the Philippines graduate and is currently pursuing an M.A. in Art Studies. He is the Art Director and Graphic Design Consultant for the textbook project of the Sentro ng Wikang Filipino and teaches at the Department of Art Studies, College of Arts and Letters, University of the Philippines.
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