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Exponents of trailblazing architecture

These architects dream, conceptualize, design and construct to finally bring their once imaginary visions to life. These awesome formations have even gone on to become cultural symbols and fine art.



You have seen these creations in dramatic photos. You have viewed them in impressive videos. You may have even liked most on your Instagram feeds.

A simple mention of the names of grand structures and those of the architects come rushing back to us — as if they are almost synonymous.

From the top of my head, I recall Antoni Gaudi of the Sagrada Familia Church in Spain, Jorn Utzon of the Sydney Opera House in Australia, I.M. Pei of the Glass Pyramid of the Louvre in France and James Renwick of the St. Patrick Cathedral in New York. In the Philippines, I am thrilled just looking at Tomas Mapua’s Philippine Postal Corporation Building, Leandro Locsin’s Cultural Center of the Philippines and Francisco Mañosa’s Coconut Palace.

These architects dream, conceptualize, design and construct to finally bring their once imaginary visions to life. These awesome formations have even gone on to become cultural symbols and fine art.

Four Cebu-based architects shared with us projects they consider the most meaningful for them and why.

Jose Mari Cañizares

Ma. Lourdes “Joy” Martinez Onozawa, Principal Architect of MLMO Architecture and Planning, formulated her pro-environment and pro-people design philosophy: “Architectural projects must make people’s lives better, thus an ecosystem and community-based design process remains the most sustainable model to undertake. When we nurture the environment, and not neglect it, ultimately peace reigns in the hearts of men in the long term,”
Her most meaningful undertaking was designing the masterplan and some of the buildings of the Cebu Safari and Adventure Park, located in the hills of the town of Carmen, some 64 kilometers from Cebu City.

Jose Mari Cañizares, senior partner of Cañizares Architects Design Co., built his reputation on designing residential projects in different parts of the country — some 200 of them and still counting! He pioneered designing resorts on the island, such as Pulchra Resort, Argao Beach Club, Badian Island Wellness Resort, and Tambuli Seaside Resort and Spa. His projects now include schools and churches, commercial establishments and malls. Most notable is the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Terminal 1.

Mari’s choice is the HillTop Homes, a cluster of seven residences that nestles on top of a rolling hill in the center of Cebu. Due to its natural location and the challenges brought about by the sloping, rocky terrain, it was an opportunity to be imaginative and flexible.

Tessie Javier, principal architect of TP Javier Architects, is often present in different community social affairs for various affiliations. Foremost, though, she is a devoted and dedicated daughter to her 98 year old mother, Laling, and the two are inseparable.

A full-fledged architect, Tessie took up interior design at the Philippine School of Interior Design in Manila.

Michels Pavillion at Cebu Safari and Adventure Park by architect Joy Martinez Onozawa.

After a few years work experience with some top Manila firms, Tessie, a Cum Laude in AB Major in English and BS Architecture at the University of San Carlos, came home to Cebu and has since been involved in interior works of residences and schools, shopping centers, condominiums  and hospitality establishments.

Tessie considers most special the final stages of two major projects — an 11-level school building and a 16-level commercial site with subterranean parking.

Rolando Mercado, principal architect of RMDA Architects Co., possesses an extensive experience in architecture, interior and space planning design of banks, offices, plazas and promenades. He belongs to the second batch of the ASEAN Architects, a group which demonstrates upstanding professional qualities in the region.

He treasures most The Baseline, a mixed-used one-hectare property along Juana Osmeña Street with an astounding look and unique global features such as towers rising from one podium.