Posts Tagged ‘design’

I’m No Frank

Frank Lloyd Wright

and his falling water. Masses

of concrete cantilevered,

and extending outwards

like hands reaching- symbiosis.

But I’m no Frank

and dreams might be

my little fingers clasping

hard and pushing pencils

for somebody else’s utopia.


The hewn boulders of rock

resisting the foundation

on which this grand design sits,

I bear the weight of expectations.

Balancing upon the scales

on which the measure of cement

is mixed in sand and water.

The lapping over of slates into a bond.

The forward thrust of hammer to nails.

The tightening of ties around stirrups.

The alternate laying of the roof decking.


And the network of drain pipes,

cables and ducting, and waterlines

resembling the veins and sinews

of the building’s skeleton. I build

a symbol- the framework of the mind.

The genius envisions an edifice

in his intellectual acrobatics,

justifying to the world the modern-

reality that build themselves on paper.


Summoning the masons to lay

its plaster to newly cured blocks.

The painter to swab the walls

in fresh coats. The decorator

sets the chairs, the beds,

the mirrors and the tables.

The vases and layers of curtains.

The lifeless sculpture pieces

and paintings hanged to the walls.

Fixing rolls of wallpaper  and carpets

over polished granite floors.


The carpenter assembling

cabinet boxes, ledges and shelves.

The windows fitted to the sills.

And the doors hanged on frames.

The location of the chandelier.

Installing wooden slabs on stairs.

The green patinated balustrades.

The landscaper to plant shrubs, and ferns

and vines and trees and patch of grass.

The water fountains and the waterfall

arranged mimicking a natural set-up.


But I ‘m no Frank.

The hours stretched for miles and miles.

The drafting table becoming wet with fog

until  the first  hours of the morning.

I can hear the mad conversations

of the vellum and the graphite saying,

“deadline nears, it’s almost here”.

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Poly, an Indian working as a licensed architect in Mumbai in his topic " how degrading his salary" lamented his woes on receiving an annual salary amounting USD$ 3,300.  Roughly equivalent to Php 165,000.  A gross monthly income of Php 13,750. 

In the Philippines, the same scenario has similarly taken place since architectural practice is unfair and controlled by monopoly of star architects and the wealthy conglomerates and corporations.  The stream of available projects has been fiercely competed eversince the financial crash of 1997.  Major infrastructure, complexes  and high rise building projects were halted.  Real estate businesses, construction firms and architectural firms mellowed for such a long time.  Coupled with unstable political situations such as Erap ascendancy as president and the corruption scandals that rocked our integrity as a nation.  The economy is in a downside.

A regular, newly licensed architect can make the bottom offer of Php 10,000 per month to work for an architectural firm, as this is my observation since 2000.  And since CAD came into the picture, virtually all of architects must learn a number of CAD and 3d-modelling softwares such as AutoCAD, 3dMax, Microstation, AutoViz, ADT, Maya, Vectorworks and graphic enhancing softwares such as Photoshop, Corel and Macromedia Flash to stay competitive as ever.

In an honest observation, AutoCAD operators and 3d renderers make the killing for taking home a higher bracket of paychecks. They become more in demand since overseas companies dealing with design and construction scouts for them in volumes.  Now, being a CAD expert does not need you to be a graduate of architecture or engineering course, a technical 3-months training on AutoCAD will do.

I remember when I got my license to practice as a new architect, I have tried to apply for an architect job at one of the best architecture firms located in Pasay City.  I am regretful to note that I am competing with undergraduates and underlicensed  with the position.

I begin to doubt regulation and licensure for the architecture profession, if it serves its purpose well. It never occured to me that the  battleground is really rife with unfair competition and politics between school affiliations, "padrino system" and the like.

This continuing condition and the eroding standards of the architecture  profession plus the almost predictable nature of PRC of producing professionals like selling  hotcakes, will never stop the exodus of architects and technical professionals from leaving the country. 

This is because the pay scales is something to frown about with in the Philippines.  We got the lowest cost of living in the world based on a survey that complements low wages. And it only translates to low standards of living.

With architects prone to malpractices such as incessant signing of construction documents for building permits ranging from Php 500 to Php 1000 per package, which violates its code of ethics, is an open secret. And the many, fall prey to corrupt practices to clinch a project deal. It is rampantly being practised even by the very front runners of the architectural organization.

Growing discontent among majority of licensed of architecture have no recourse but to take the inevitable career switch to other profitable jobs and professions. Like nursing, caregiving course, tech-vocational, teaching and immigrating to Canada, US, Australia and New Zealand to work there as domestic helpers, construction workers, interior decorator, cashier, farmer or a factory worker.

So it was, my assumptions are right, there is no future for architecture in the Philippines.  With the pay scales almost insulting even if I do want to think of doing it for the love of the profession.  To the point that I am regretting of my seemingly unwise career decision to push through with it, no matter how bad and hard it is.

And the lure of getting a different kind of job that pays well is almost a tempting offer that is leaving me no room to refuse.  Then the choice might be uncontestable.  It is disheartening to think that I make a  living by struggling to fight the many injustices in our profession while seeing myself being laughed upon and scorned by my contemporaries.  Stuck in here defending my pride.  Stuck in here hoping for the hopeless. Stuck in here upholding the ethical standards which is of no use to abate poverty and discrimination.

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