The third General Membership Meeting (GMM) of the United Architects of the Philippines-Dubai exceeded everyone’s expectations. Chock-a-block with twists, turns, and bolts from the blue, the event, which was entitled Balik Pilipinas Programme, attracted in excess of 400 active members, including those from the Abu Dhabi Chapter, turning it into the largest ever gathering of Filipino architects.
The Balik Pilipinas Programme was designed to inform overseas architects on the best way to start up an architectural business should they decide to return home permanently. Furthermore, it presented updates on current trends in construction in the Philippines, together with a rundown of the basic considerations in designing the Filipino home. The resource speakers were architects John Lemuel Llacuna, Mary Grace Almario, and Annie Corpuz-Pugeda.
Llacuna cited the four steps in business registration, namely: filing the business name in the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) or the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), obtaining the business permit from the barangay, then from the city or municipality where the business is to be located, and securing a certificate of registration from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). The process is wearisome, but the BIR website and the Negosyo Centres in local government provide valuable information to assist the business applicant. Llacuna also advised first-timers to engage a lawyer and an accountant, formulate a solid business strategy, and value customer loyalty for their business to be successful.
In her talk, Almario spoke about the continuing construction boom in the Philippines, as a result of both investment and the government’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ initiative. She stated that from the pre-design phase to the post-construction phase, the entire process of construction in the Philippines is on a par with the international standards to which Dubai-based Filipino architects work. Based upon her first-hand experience, Almario also reported on the current cost of materials, manpower rates, and salaries at management level.
As soon as Annie Corpuz-Pugeda came on stage, cheers from the audience filled the hall, probably because many were her devoted students from either TUP, FEU, or JPT. Talking on the subject ‘Syncing the Filipino House Interior and Feng Sui Revisited’, she elicited laughter from the crowd as she flashed on-screen images of home interiors cluttered with all kinds of stuff – from the undying Kyowa and Orocan boxes in the kitchen area to items in the living space that were stacked as high as the Burj Khalifa! While everyone was entertained with her humour, she earnestly reminded the audience that as professionals, architects have a social responsibility to advise their clients of a better way to organise the way they live through design.
Corpuz-Pugeda’s address came hot on the heels of the biggest surprise of the event, when the Jollibee mascot danced about the stage and entertained the crowd while they were eating jolly spaghetti and chicken joy. It was a truly energetic performance that inevitably resulted in a photo opportunity with the national bee, in the manner of a wedding or class pictorial. Together with the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) cards for attendance, the environmentally-friendly organisers also passed out coffee mugs as a reward to those who brought the previously given tumblers or had something similar to make use of for drinking.
The evening was so packed with information and insights that other announcements needed to be sent electronically. For any Filipino architect doing work in the Middle East for several years, the Balik Pilipinas Programme provided a much-needed refresher to move forward to the next level.