The hopes for a country’s bright future truly lies in the hands of the young. Whether that’s casting a ballot or raising awareness for a variety of pressing issues, what better voice for Gen Z to listen to than one of their own, someone who faces the same uncertainties yet strives for a better world?
In the case of the late National Artist for Architecture Pablo S. Antonio, who better yet to continue to press for his legacy to be preserved than his own great-grandson, Joshua V. Barrera?
Antonio is one of the least known yet no less worthy National Artists—Filipinos are poorer for the loss of a number of his heritage structures over the years. Barrera is finishing a degree in arts management at De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde; his culminating project in Architectural Heritage is a study and a website of Antonio’s ancestral home at 2650 Zamora St., Pasay City.
For Barrera, the Zamora house is a veritable home of dreamers that has inspired four generations of the family, himself included, to pursue a career in the arts.
He said, “I took up arts management because I was curious and eager to learn about the inner workings of the art world. I dreamed of being a part of the industry as an artist and curator. Through my journey in college, I realized I could fulfill that dream and apply what I have learned to a home dear to my family and the creative community.”
The website pablosantoniohome.com, which was launched recently, is like a warm and personal invitation to visit the home, to find tranquility in its lush gardens, to find a respite from the crazy world outside in a space that breathes tropical architecture, to become intimate with anecdotes and tales from its past and present.
The virtual tour, filmed and edited by Barrera’s former high school classmates Geoffrey Allen Tan and Ian Cruz (Tinted Ink Productions), is like a dreamy stroll, first through the cobblestoned driveway surrounded by greenery.
Then, after noting the Important Cultural Property marker, one steps in through the doors to a sala of warm wood and cooling greens, where slanted windows give a vista of garden everywhere you look. Here you feel that tropical architecture succeeds in creating a home that lives with the elements, rather than fighting the climate with ubiquitous air conditioning.
Barrera spent a good deal of the past year collecting archival materials, conducting interviews and immersing himself in his great-grandfather’s world. The result is a 200-page study he presented for his thesis, including the launch of the website.
“My lolo Pablo Antonio was a dreamer,” said Barrera’s mom Vicky Veloso-Barrera. “How else would an orphan who went to school in slippers end up becoming a foremost modernist architect, and later a National Artist? It’s still nice to sit in any corner of this home . . . In here, the city suddenly seems so far away and when you dream, you know that everything is possible.”