National Artist for Architecture and Allied Arts Ildefonso “IP” Santos Jr., who passed away at 84 years old on January 29 due to multiple-organ failure, pioneered landscape architecture in the Philippines and spent a lifetime seeking to integrate structure and surroundings in one organic interaction between aesthetic and geography.

A graduate of UST Architecture, Santos was behind the landscaping of key architectural works such as the San Miguel Corporation Bldg. in Mandaluyong City behind the SM Megamall, in which the dramatic terraced pyramidal structure aping the Cordillera terraces is complemented by the wide landscaped garden below, and the giant bronze sculptures by Ed Castrillo at Loyala Memorial Park in Parañaque, in which the minimalist landscape meld with modernist interpretations of emotionally charged religious genre works such as “Pieta” and the “Last Supper.”

Santos’ other notable landscape works can be seen at the former Nayong Pilipino, at the Paco Church, Tagaytay Highlands Gold and Country Club, Manila Hotel, and Rizal Park.

At the official state necrological service at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) on February 2, Santos’ remains were brought in from the CCP front lawn, which he also landscaped. During the service, his works here and abroad were praised.

“We honor him today as we say goodbye to a mentor, teacher, father, and friend,” said architect and writer Paulo Alcazaren, who delivered a eulogy. “IP provided environmental spaces, landscapes, and cityscapes in the Philippines and all over South East Asia and the Middle East.”

The service was attended by other National Artists such as Bienvenido Lumbera and Virgilio Almario (Literature), and Napoleon Abueva and Abdulmari Asia Imao (Visual Arts). Also present was former first lady Imelda Marcos, who was behind the erection of the CCP in 1969.

Santos was the son of Ildefonso Santos, renowned Tagalog poet.

“Instead of the colorful words that his father used, IP had shrubs and trees,” Alcazaran said. “Instead of lines, IP’s works are walks and esplanades. Instead of stanzas, IP created shaded outlooks, courtyards, and vibrant plazas.”

Lumbera paid tribute to Santos, saying he brought people closer to nature.

“Mapangahas ang pambansang alagad ng sining na ating pinararangalan ngayon,” he said. “Ang kaniyang sining ay nilapat niya sa materyal na tila ang langit lamang ang may kakayahang kumontrol. Hinuhubog niya ang tanawin at ipinaaalaala sa atin ang ugnay ng kalikasang nasa ating paligid.” (The National Artist we eulogize today was audacious. He brought his art to a medium that only the heavens can control. He crafted sights and landscapes and reminded us of the harmony that must obtain between structure and nature.)

Gigi Santos, daughter of the architect, said her father was an advocate of ecology.

“I have no doubt that at this very moment IP is whispering into God’s ear how heaven can use a little green space.”

Santos graduated in 1954 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Architecture. He furthered his studies at the University of Southern California School of Architecture in Los Angeles.

In 2006, he received the National Artist Award. Elyssa Christine A. Lopez and Juan Carlos D. Moreno

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