THIS architect always had a way with words, not just with numbers.

Architecture alumnus Ian Jay Bantilan launched the second installment of his art exhibit titled Dark Stained White II last April 24 to May 22. The exhibit showcased both his drawings and poetry at Museo Negrense de La Salle in Bacolod.

“I’m really happy about this exhibit because this was something that I have been dreaming of for a long time now,” said Bantilan, who initially conceptualized the project 10 years ago and made it happen at the first exhibit in SM Bacolod in 2012.

Though more inclined in poetry, Bantilan still made a name in architecture after establishing his own architectural firm, Archian Designs Architect Studios (ADAS), in Dubai in November 2010.

Bantilan hopes his firm would make it big in the US, Canada and Continental Europe by creating designs for various clients in the firm’s website.

“For others, it came from a need. Like architecture, one of the sources of beauty is function. There might be a birthday, a wedding or someone who was leaving,” he said.

Bantilan considers poetry another means of expression that he has loved since he was a young boy.

“I have written a lot of poems in high school and college, some of them short two-liners in texts,” said the neophyte poet.

He wrote his first major poem, "Rites of Passage," after passing the board exams in 2003 as a remembrance of his achievement.

“Writing that poem was my way of celebrating the milestone that I achieved,” said Bantilan.

Despite the success of the two art exhibits, Bantilan refuses to be known as a poet.

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“I believe that my poetry is really just a hobby. I don’t consider myself as a poet yet, because although I have created poems, my work has not been recognized by a group of poets,” said Bantilan.

The first installment, Dark Stained White, is composed of 14 ink artworks that each corresponds to a poem about different social issues of the country.

A childhood passion, Bantilan believes his poetry came from “an overflow of the heart” from the people around him, such as his English high school teachers from the University of St. La Salle in Bacolod City, friends and artists he met at a youth organization called Life Box, his Thomasian friends, and from great authors Stu Weber and John Eldredge.

Describing it “like mixing some ingredients,” Bantilan said poetry added flavor to his career in architecture, though there were times he didn’t get the right taste.

“I believe that poetry adds richness to my profession. Architecture and poetry can have a shared purpose, but most of the time it might not. It’s like being able to play a guitar after making some construction drawings. It is refreshing,” said Bantilan, who currently teaches architecture at the La Consolacion College in Bacolod.

Building blocks to architecture

Bantilan’s father, lawyer Jerry, and uncle Engr. Arne Lubrico urged him to broaden his horizon and take up architecture.

“I was never sure what architecture was. My uncle and father just suggested it. I came to understand what architecture was when I was in second year,” he said.

Bantilan took time off from poetry to focus on his studies.

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“When you start out as an architect, your values are idealistic and you pursue work to be famous. Our goal is to build statues of stone and glass in our honor,” he said.

He got his big break in 2007 in the United Arab Emirates when he worked with the team of architect Shams Eldien Naga, founder of Dubai-based Naga Architects.

Bantilan’s creative know-how in structures was recognized both locally and internationally as he worked in Dubai with Naga, who has a doctorate in architecture, and with his clients in ADAS.

Bantilan also attended symposiums in universities abroad, where he met international architects such as Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron and Rem Koolhas.

Still, Bantilan’s successful career in architecture did not drive him away from his first love.

“I believe that when I hosted my art and poetry exhibit, only then did my work become public. It is the fullness of your heart and the availability of a language, (on my part – words, drawings and rhyme) where I was finally able to express,” he said, adding that he looks up to renowned poets William Shakespeare, Robert Frost and T.S. Elliot.

Although his grandparents and uncle are artists, Bantilan grew up in a family of accountants who were very supportive of his artistic and poetic endeavors.

“I am very thankful to God, my family and friends for supporting me in my first solo Art and Poetry Exhibit – Dark Stained White. I believe I am just starting to discover my art. Previously, I did not have the time or resources to do this,” he said.

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Bantilan shuns credit and said he owes his prowess to his mentors in the University.

“They are worthy of honor because they are the people who stoop down [from ignorance] to make us great, just like Jesus,” he said.

“When we get older, we start to understand that the work is not about us after all, it is serving other people,” Bantilan added. Mone Virma Ginry P. Gumapac and Catalina Ricci S. Madarang

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