Leading architect Ramon Antonio has an enviable mindset going into the “new normal.” “We should listen. Just listen,” he says in our chat on the phone.
He means listen and heed what’s going on around us. “Science is trying to tell us something. This pandemic is serious. So we should listen.”
Then he ponders. “And so does God. God is trying to tell us something. To simplify life. To know what is essential. So we must listen.”
Antonio is noted for designing and building many of the beautiful homes and structures in Metro Manila. Since the quarantine has eased, he and his staff have resumed his firm’s projects, and he goes to job sites while following very strict protocols, such as meeting with only a person or two, and observing distancing.
Antonio comes from a family of artists who have gained prominence. His father was National Artist Pablo Antonio, a pioneer of modern architecture in the country who built and designed the Far Eastern University building, the Manila Polo Club and Manila cinemas which became landmarks in Philippine entertainment, such as Ideal and Lyric, which are no longer around. His mother was Marina Antonio, the foremost couturiere who preceded Ramon Valera. His brother, Chito, is another architect and interior designer. His sister, Malu Veloso, helped begin the contemporary wedding gown industry in the country.
Antonio is glad that in the “new normal,” with people forced to stay home, many are attending to their gardens again. “They’re appreciating again plants, nature, the peace that it brings.”
Antonio’s garden is one of the most beautiful in the city. Its order is natural and evokes harmony. The plants are lush, varied and blended. It assumes a different character depending on the time of day. In the morning, the greenery and the trees create an ambiance of energy and vigor. In the evening, it is an oasis of calm and tranquility.
Since the pandemic decelerated consumption, Antonio hopes that the “new normal” will help people focus on what they truly need and want. “Life is not for show,” he says. —Thelma San Juan INQ