THIS three-time Benavides awardee is a cut above the rest.

Thomasian architecture graduate Justin Owen Francisco has won the award, which is given to students who excelled in academic and extra-curricular activities both local and international, thrice in five years.

Francisco, who recently graduated from the College of Architecture, said Thomasian architects’ natural appreciation of beauty set themselves apart from the others.

“Thomasians are creative and have an ‘eye’ for distinguishing beauty. Their works revolve around both aesthetics and function. Unlike others who focus on theory and science rather than the art per se of architecture,” he said.

Francisco, who was a Metrobank Foundation Inc. (MBFI) Boysen Paint scholar, used his passion for the arts to fuel his desire to learn more about architecture.

“Never [akong nagsawa]. Every day, every year, nag-grow ako sa course ko. More na gusto ko matuto tapos ma-apply yung mga natutunan ko,” he said. “Kasi gusto ko talaga 'yung ginagawa ko; gusto ko talaga yung [architecture], gusto ko mag-design, mag-drawing.”

“My parents were the best, they supported me all the way. Sa totoo lang, ‘di nila ako pineressure na mag-architecture, sadiyang yun lang talaga ang gusto ko gawin.” Francisco added.

Slow start, smooth ride

Despite having second thoughts, Francisco was convinced by his friends to join several national design competitions, namely the National Esquisse Competition Sketching Category, UAPSA National Architecture Week Competition UST Chapter, the Pangasinan Sports Complex Design Competition, and the UST (GenSan) Student Health Center Design Competition. He won awards in all of them.

“Before, I had no interest in joining any competition, but my friends wanted to. They egged me on and eventually, I did. Luckily, I won. I was overwhelmed and wanted to know how far I could go, and if I’d be able to prove anything,” he said.

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Francisco said he gets a kick out of helping people through his designs, He's now a junior architect at HBO + EMTB Philippines Inc., an architectural firm based in Makati.

Last April 26, Justin, with his sister and co-MBFI scholar Elise Sophia, won the 2014 Metrobank Award for Outstanding Scholastic Achievement Award.

Elise graduated from the University of the Philippines in 2012 also with a degree in Architecture.

The Graduates’ Forum at the Metrobank Plaza recognized MBFI graduate scholars’ academic and extra-curricular achievements. In turn, it was also an avenue for the scholars to show gratitude to the benefactors.

“During the forum, I realized that being able to help other people was very fulfilling. There were many people who gave inspirational talks. But one thing we all have in common is we help people,” Francisco said.

First mentors

Francisco’s passion for architecture and the arts began at home when he was five years old. His father trained him early by asking him to create a piece of art everyday.

His skills were further developed at the Philippine High School for the Arts in Makiling, Laguna, where he learned literature, music and the arts.

Francisco was then exposed to the works of Leandro Locsin and was also encouraged by his older sister, who helped him grow as an architecture student.

“During my high school years, I took elective subjects that focused more on painting and design,” said Fransicso, who keeps his interests balanced by playing guitar in a band.

Francisco said patronizing Philippine architecture by restoring heritage sites could boost its condition.

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“Our architecture is already lagging behind compared to other countries. People often go with the flow and take the easy and cheap route, even if the outcome becomes mediocre. There is just no heart in the work anymore,” said Francisco.

“In other countries, they’ll use the building for something else while retaining its original structure. Like an old museum would be transformed into a new restaurant. Same building, but different purpose,” Francisco added, noting that architecture should serve a purpose and not just stand for aesthetics or as ornament.

To achieve advancement in the field, Francisco said architects must be certain of their goals and be determined to attain them.

“The most important thing is to know what you want. From there, the path you’ll take will be very clear. Wherever you go, as long as you want it, you’ll never go wrong. Develop yourself in the things that you love. That’s when you’ll master your craft,” he said. Dayanara Cudal, Alfredo N. Mendoza and Josiah Darren G. Saynes

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