Architect Francisco “Bobby” Mañosa at the ongoing Alabang Town Center exhibit with his children Gelo, Bambi and Dino. The siblings describe their father as “an enthusiastic teacher, artist, musician, painter, comedian, mentor, our Peter Pan and a die-hard Filipino.”
Exhibit shows Mañosa’s life-long love of Filipino design
Bambi Mañosa-Tanjutco was very young when her father, the esteemed architect Francisco “Bobby” Mañosa, moved their family from the comforts of Quezon City to the provincial subdivision then known as New Alabang Village in Muntinlupa.
It was 1981 and the invitation of his good friend, Enrique Zobel, to move south was a promising idea for Mañosa. The architect served as village governor of what would be renamed Ayala Alabang Village.
Bambi’s memories of that time were of butterflies and fireflies during summer, frogs during the rains, and a vast grassland that served as campsite for neighborhood kids before it turned into what is now the Alabang Town Center.
The daughter’s most vivid recollection however, was of “random people” turning up to gawk at the marvel of a house everyone called the “Mañosa Residence.”
What was a thoroughly modern reinterpretation of the lowly bahay kubo attracted “busloads” of visiting architecture and design majors who took notes on Mañosa’s mindful use of local materials and keen regard for climate, landscape and the Filipino’s way of life as elements in creating his home.
Her father already understood what green architecture meant “when it was not yet in vogue, when the bahay kubo was seen as something too provincial,” Bambi noted.
Calling Mañosa a fan of this indigenous home design is an understatement. For more than 60 years now, the architect used the bahay kubo as his template, with “mundane” resources such as bamboo, nipa, rattan, shell, coconut and adobe literally as the building blocks for his inspired creations.
He also encouraged family, clients and everyone else he met to look at the bahay kubo and local materials with new eyes as Western design trends and modernism reared their heads on the urban landscape.
Ongoing until Thursday, Aug. 17, at Alabang Town Center is “Mañosa Beyond Architecture (A Traveling Exhibit on Filipino Architecture)” that showcases his philosophy on architectural design, the beauty of indigenous materials and Filipino culture.
The exhibit also brings to fore outstanding Filipino structures that carry Mañosa’s distinct tribute.
Photographs of buildings displaying his ode to the bahay kubo include those of the Ateneo Professional Schools in Makati, the Shrine of Our Lady of Peace on Edsa, the Light Railway Transit 1 station, the Coconut Palace at the CCP complex, the original Sulo Restaurant, the San Miguel headquarters, the Balara filters recreation park, Amanpulo Resort in Palawan, Pearl Farm Resort on Samal island, and the Philippine Pavilion built during the 1992 World Exposition in Seville, Spain.
“What you see here is (but a fraction) of documented archives of the works of my father,” said Bambi, now the head of the interior design department of Mañosa and Co. and director of the Mañosa Group’s Tukod Foundation, when the exhibit was unveiled Aug. 6.
Also present were her mother, Denise, and brothers, Dino, CEO of the Mañosa Group and founder-CEO of Mañosa Properties, and Gelo, CEO of Mañosa and Co.
At the event, Bambi told friends and family that despite her father’s deep commitment to his passion, he still “lived life beyond architecture. He is an enthusiastic teacher, artist, musician, painter, comedian, mentor, our Peter Pan and a die-hard Filipino—elements that make him a visionary. The Mañosa archives made us realize he had this vision for 60 years, of learning something new every day, of trying to promote Filipino living and design and passing it on. This is a great adventure for my father.”
A brief video presentation followed, conveying how Mañosa “insisted on sticking to what is Filipino.”
It also talked of Mañosa’s belief that the goal of Philippine architecture is to build distinctive structures that are “rooted in culture (and) organic to the landscape… while standing alongside the best in the world.”
Bambi said the exhibit intends to challenge the audience to think Filipino in everything we do.
“My father has always said, ‘It doesn’t matter what you take up in college or who you have become. What matters is who have you lifted up today? When are you going to give back to your community? What are you doing to contribute to nation-building?’”
“Mañosa Beyond Architecture (A Traveling Exhibit on Filipino Architecture)” is on display at Alabang Town Center activity area until Aug. 17. The exhibit will transfer to Ayala Malls’ TriNoma in Quezon City, on view Aug. 18-Sept. 9.