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Architecture, as practiced in the Philippines during the Spanish era, was not by virtue of an academic title. There were no architectural schools in the country and the only architects with academic degrees were Spaniards. However, the first Filipino recorded architect was Felix Roxas y Arroyo of Binondo, Manila. The closest the Filipino could aspire to practice as an architect was as Maestro de Obras or Master Builder. The first academic school to train these maestros was the Escuela Practica y Professional de Artes y Oficio de Manila, founded by the Spanish government in 1880. In 1900 the first private school to offer an academic title for Maestro de Obras was the Liceo de Manila.

       For the early 1930`s to the late 50`s, associations of architects came and went, but three of these survived until the early 70`s. These were the League of Philippine Architects (LPA), the Association of Philippine Government Architects (APGA), and the Philippine Institute of Architects (PIA).

       The profession of Architecture was given its first separate statute on June 17, 1950 with the enactment of Republic Act 545, An Act to Regulate the Practice of Architecture in the Philippines. In December 1971, President Ferdinand E. Marcos officially declared the second week of December as Architecture Week. President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued PD 223 in June 1973 creating the Professional Regulation Commission with the duty of regulating all the professions and accrediting only one professional organization to represent each profession. Recognizing the need to formally integrate the three architectural associations, APGA, LPA and PIA each appointed three representatives to form the Panel of Negotiation in May 1973.

       To implement the terms of integration agreed upon by the three architectural organizations, a 15 man Ad-Hoc Commission was authorized to prepare the Constitution and By-Laws of the newly integrated association. One year later, the respective Board of Directors of the three organizations on December 12, 1974 unanimously approved the Constitution and By-Laws. In order to effectively pursue the objectives and perform its task and duties under the resolution, the Ad-Hoc Commission was authorized to sit as the Interim Board to administer, implement and coordinate the various activities of the new organization until the first regular Board of Directors and Officers was duly elected. The new integrated society was called, the United Architects of the Philippines(UAP). Membership of the three organizations numbering a total of 1,300, automatically became members of the UAP and during its first year, 700 members officially registered for active membership. On March 26, 1976, the United Architects of the Philippines registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. UAP became the first accredited professional organization on May 12, 1975 with the professional regulation commission issuing certificate no. 001 to the UAP as the duly accredited professional organization for architects in the Philippines. On June 12, 1976, the UAP informed the Union Internationale des Architectes (UIA) of the integration of the three architectural organizations under the United Architects of the Philippines and requested for recognition of the UIA as its National Section in the Philippines.

       On March 22-25, 1979, the UAP organized a National Conference on Architectural Education at the Development Academy of the Philippines in Tagaytay City. The result of the Conference was the endorsement of a new ladder-type curriculum for architectural education, which was approved by the Ministry of Education and Culture and adopted by schools and colleges of architecture in the Philippines. The same year saw the approval of the new Architects` National Code by the Professional Regulation Commission. This code was prepared by the UAP as a standard of ethics and practice of architecture in the Philippines.

       In recognition of UAP`s involvement in government program and activities, the Metro Manila Commission appointed the UAP members to constitute the Board of Advisers for urban design and development for Metro Manila. In September 1979, UAP became a founding member of the Architects Regional Council Asia (ARCASIA) and Arcasia Board of Architectural Education (ABAE) organized in Jakarta, Indonesia. Its primary objective is to foster friendly, intellectual, artistic, educational and scientific relations among national institutes of Architects in Asia. Later this was changed to Arcasia Council of Architectural Education (ACAE). In the same year, the UAP also became a founding member of the ASEAN Association for Planning and Housing (AAPH). In December 1979, the UAP organized a 4-month activity entitled “Filipino Technology in the 80`s in collaboration with the five professional organizations, two ASEAN Organizations, fourteen government agencies and schools of architecture. At the closing of the “Filipino Technology of the 80`s, President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued Letter of Instruction 1000 directing all government ministries and agencies to authorize and support only PRC accredited professional organizations like the UAP in organizing and hosting national and international conferences and to give priority to the members of the organizations in the hiring of employees and in the engagement of professional service. On March 28, 1981, the UAP initiated the preparation of the document entitled“International Code of Ethics on Consulting Services” during the Arcasia Workshop held in Manila. It was later formally adopted by ARCASIA in its meeting in Hong Kong on August 6, 1981.

       After several documents were submitted by UAP to the Union Internationale des Architectes (UIA)concerning the laws of the Philippines and the status of the UAP as a follow up of its application to the UIA, the UIA Bureau during its meeting at Honolulu, Hawaii on June 4-5 1982 concluded that “legally according to the laws of the Philippines, the UAP is the only organization with the right to represent the Filipino architects either in the Philippines or internationally and particularly with regards to the UIA. The result of this meeting was forwarded to the UAP and upon request of UIA, the UAP paid its annual dues on August 24, 1982. On January 24-26, 1983 during the meeting of the the UIA Council at Santiago de Chile, Chile, the Council passed Resolution No. 9 stating the “following the laws of the Philippines and the UIA Statutes, UAP legally became the National Section”. A certification to this effect was issued to the UAP in April 1983.

       The meeting of ARCASIA in Lahore, Pakistan in 1983 approved the proposal for UAP to host and organize the First Asian Congress of Architects (ACA-1) in Manila in October 1984 (The Sixth Asian Congress of Architects was also held in Manila in December 1994).

       The United Architects of the Philippines today claims a membership of over 8,000 architects scattered over 3 strategic areas of the country: Area A, comprising the central and northern portion of the Island of Luzon including Metropolitan Manila comprises 5 regional districts; Area B composing southern Luzon as well as the members from the islands of Mindoro, Masbate and Palawan contains five regional districts; Area C comprises members from the Visayan Islands as well as Mindanao. This area comprises four regional districts. (see UAP map).

About the Author:
Manuel D. C. Noche took up masteral studies at the Bartlett School of Architecture & Planning, London majoring in Environmental Design and Engineering. His love for travelling and photography eventually led him to the doors of the country’s historic churches, which he hopes to someday catalog in a book. He is currently the principal architect for Art, Architecture, and Design.