Thursday, September 25, 2008


He is the only Filipino architect who early in his career had began receiving worldwide recognition yet he is the only Filipino architect of great importance without any foreign training; strictly a home grown architect, a graduate of the University of Santo Tomas.

However, in his visit to the United States, he met some of his influences, Paul Rudolph and Eero Saarinen. It was then he realized to use concrete for his buildings which was relatively cheap in the Philippines and easy to form. His buildings look very modern that many asked if his works were of Filipino architecture.

American writer Mitchell B. Rouda's essay in "Contemporary Architects" answers the question.

"Locsin's architecture begins with sincere introspection , both of himself and his nation. He is very attuned to Filipino living patterns, and has avidly studied vernacular Filipino building. He frequently incorporates common vernacular spatial qualities into his designs.

His nation's tropical climate, for example, has always exerted considerable influence on architecture produced there, and Locsin responds to the weather in much the same way as his ancestors. Large open spaces and few ceiling to floor partitions, frequent use of lattices and other partial partitions, and the expression of the roof as the dominant shape, are all qualities of Locsin's work that have been adopted from the vernacular. An exuberant sense of ornament, detail and architectural intent, contrasted against great simplicity is another characteristic that marks Locsin's buildings, and has been drawn from his own culture."

Leandro V. Locsin was born on Aug 15, 1928 in Silay City, Negros Occidental. He was named after his paternal grandfather, Don Leandro Locsin y de la Rama, who was the first elected governor of the province under the American regime.

The first known Locsin came to Molo, Iloilo from China in the middle of the 18th century. He married a local woman who gave birth to four sons and a daughter. Three of the four sons became priests, and the only son who married had 14 children.
The Locsins, though originally from Molo, eventually played a significant role in building up Silay.

About the middle of the 19th century, a Fr. Eusebio Locsin was appointed parish priest of Silay. Awed by its abundance of fertile land, he invited his relatives in Molo to settle in Silay. Gregorio Locsin, a great grandson of the first Locsin in Molo, came to Silay. He had 13 children, the eldest of whom, Leandro, later became governor.

Silay was the seat of the 1896 Revolution in Negros, and Don Leandro's pharmacy was the meeting place of the leaders. Contributions to the revolutionary fund were coded as pharmacy sales.

Don Leandro was a man of culture with a large library and an impressive collection of recordings of classical music. Locsin who lived with his grandparents since he was four months old, hence developed a love for music. In this setting, Locsin's appreciation for art and music flourished.

He later studied at the De La Salle Brothers in 1935 before returning to Negros due to the Second World War. He returned to Manila to study Pre-Law, before shifting to pursue a Bachelor's Degree in Music at the University of Santo Tomas. Although he was a talented pianist, he later shifted again to Architecture, just a year before graduating.

While waiting for the results of the government board examination after having graduated from UST in 1953, Locsin designed ballet sets for Ricardo Cassel. For a local production of of George Gershwin's "Lady Be Good," he designed the sets and also worked backstage. These experiences proved helpful when years later he was commissioned by Imelda Marcos to design the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Locsin's architectural career spanned 39 years. His largest single work is the Istana Nurul Iman, the palace of the Sultan of Brunei, which has a floor area of 2.2 million square feet. The CCP Complex itself is a virtual Locsin Complex with all five buildings designed by him -- the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Folk Arts Theater, Philippine International Convention Center, Philcite and The Westin Hotel (now Sofitel).

Locsin was married to Cecilia Yulo, to which he had two children, one of whom is also an architect. On November 15, 1994, at the age of 66, he passed away, the victim of a stroke.

For more on Locsin's works, awards and citations, click here.

* Refresh screen to replay slide!

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Additional source:
A Man of Vast Culture by Rodrigo D. Perez III
Cultural Center of the Philippines
National Commission for the Culture and the Arts
Anvil Publishing

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Please note:
I very much appreciate my articles and photos appearing on fellow bloggers' sites, popular broadsheets, and local broadcast news segments, but I would appreciate even more a request for permission first.



posted by Señor Enrique at 4:46 AM


Blogger FilMasons NSW said...

Another informative and well researched post. Would have love to see pictures of his buildings though.

September 25, 2008 3:25 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thanks, Mario!

The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) complex, also referred to by some as the virtual Locsin complex is the subject of the slide show at the bottom of the article :)


September 25, 2008 6:06 PM  

Blogger nutart said...

Thanks for the Locsin bio, Eric! My auntie-in-law who hails from Negros claims that Lindy Locsin was her elementary classmate. Then, my sister had her office at the Locsin bldg a long time ago. I would regularly visit her after office hours and once I had Arch. Locsin in the same elevator. It was at the same time when I had another friend with me and I quietly remarked to her to notice that the elevator had its own voice which announces "second flooor". I tried to sound comically promdi (but tried my best to whisper) until I noticed that the face of the other gentleman with us looked familiar. My sister just happened to be stepping out of her office when we steopped out of the elevator then she greeted the gentleman "good evening, Mr Locsin." He smiled naman at us.

Do you know that our municipal building here was also designed by the Locsins? I actually don't know if by the father or son though. The Yulo-Locsins have a large influence in this part of the island...side by side with the Zobel/Ayalas.

September 25, 2008 6:10 PM  

Blogger nutart said...

sorry, I forgot to say pala that I find your photos quite good! It usually is not easy to take architectural pictures and I can only see now that the CCP is really an architectural feat what with the undulating walls that resemble a huge sea wave! Imagine! And I once worked there for projects on days! Kaya I say---
Great angles!!!

September 25, 2008 6:32 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Talk about brush with greatness, Bernadette. Riding in the same elevator with Lindy ... lol.

And from what I understand, he was given that nickname in honor of Charles Lindbergh who, a year before Locsin was born, piloted the Spirit of St. Louis across the Atlantic.

Yes, I read about Leandro and Cecilia Locsin's LVL-CYA Foundation which supports the arts and sciences. Since 1971, it has supported about 1,500 high school scholarships for the underprivileged youth in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro, and about 800 college and vocational scholarships. Moreover, the foundation offers 160 scholarships annually and supports a medical clinic which handles about 16,000 cases a year. Awesome!

September 25, 2008 7:56 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

"I forgot to say pala that I find your photos quite good!"

Thank you, Bernadette!

Truth be told I had a tough time taking these photographs because of the cloudy weather. My settings had to be just right otherwise the color of Locsin's CCP complex buildings would blend with the gray-flannel clouds.

As for the angles, I had a marvelous time, though I could only take pictures of the exterior, no interior shots whatsoever; not allowed.

It's been said that every Locsin building is an original, and identifiable as Locsin -- "the floating volume, the duality of light and heavy, buoyant and massive" has been the theme of Locsin's work as evident by his buildings in the CCP complex.

I was able to see the interior of CCP when I joined Carlos Celdran's walking tour.

By the way, a year or so ago I was able to take pictures of the Philippine Stock Exchange - another Locsin creation - without getting accosted by a security guard. Here's its URL:

I do enjoy doing architectural shots :)

September 25, 2008 8:16 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

another fine post senor E. and the photo's were equally appealing.


September 25, 2008 11:12 PM  

Blogger NOYPETES said...

Silay City, birthplace of my late father.

Two of my brothers went to the same school at UST.

Lindy Locsin, he was our Frank LLoyd Wright!

In ref. to nutart's brush with the great Lindy in the Elevator, could you imagine one of you guys farted in that elevator ride with the legend of Philippine Architecture?

September 26, 2008 1:56 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thank you, Mikelinparis!

I had always wanted to post something about the CCP. Last weekend and Wednesday, while doing a project nearby, I took photos of the complex while on a break. This was the result :)

September 26, 2008 6:31 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Lol ... this reminds me of the time Stuttering John (Howard Stern's sidekick) asked Imelda Marcos on camera: "Whenever you pass wind in public, do you tend to point a finger on another person for having done it?"


Now for Silay, the birthplace of your father, Pete:

It is known as the Paris of Negros, a prosperous town with magnificent houses that date back to the 19th century. Silay was famous for its imports of artists and cultural shows. Jose “Pitong” Ledesma, a Silaynon pianist brought operettas d zarzuelas from Europe to Silay.

In the 1930s Arthur Rubenstein came to Silay and gave a concert in the schoolhouse. The Italian opera companies that visitied the Philippines in the early 20th century included Silay in their itenerary.

1760: Silay was founded as a town in a letter of Governor Juan Jose de Mijares (1772-1775) mentioning Silay as a leading town in the North. In 1776, the bishop of Cebu considered Silay as the center of the Parish. The town was named Silay because of the abundance of the Kansilay trees growing in the area.

In 1873, Buen Retiro (Guinhalaran) was founded. The new town was 2 kilometers away from Silay. It was placed in definitive union with Silay in 1860. In 140, Fr. Eusebio Locsin encouraged his families in Iloilo to settle in Silay because of the promising sugar industry.

In 1846, Gaston Yves Leopold Germaine from Normandy , Frane who married a Filipina from Batangas installed the first “Horno Economico” (sugar mill) in Buen Retiro. He planted Habana and Puerto Rico sugar cane which he himself brought from French Isles of Mauritius and Bourbonne.

In 1860, Simeon Ledesma and Juan Hidalgo arrived in Silay and established haciendas at Bagacay. In the later years other families from Iloilo followed Locsins, de la Rama, and Jalandonis. Crown lands later were purchased by Filipinos (1885-1892), Vicente Conlu, Crescenciano Araneta, Severo de la Rama, Anecito Montelibano, Mariano de la Rama, Santiago Suanico, Evaristo Yemo, Isidro Hilado, Bernabe Morlidad and Meliton Cañas.

Cornelio Hilado, Melicio Severino, Vito Marifosque and the Gamboas developed farm areas in Guimbalaon in 1880. The place is 14 km. east of Silay. In 1890, Guimbalaon became an independent parish.

Ramon Tinsay, one of the first graduates of the Normal school in Manila taught in a school opened in Silay. Two years later he resigned because of meager salary. Another teacher took over.

In 1894, the first telegraph station was inaugurated in Silay the first boat service between Silay and other towns in Negros was operated by the De la Ramas.

In 1892, a municipal building was constructed in Guimbalaon and in 1893 a courthouse was erected. Dolores Aguilar and Manuela Escarnillo opened the first private college for girls in Guimbalaon in June 5, 1894. Silay planters were supportive of a continuing education program. The Silay Planter’s Association was organized and a Silaynon, Cornelio Hilado was elected leader in a sugarcane Planter’s Congress held in Iloilo in April 1, 1888.

1896. When the nationwide revolution of 1896 broke out there was a division between the planters of Silay and the clergy. Some planter and clergy supported the rebels and some were against the revolution.

Alejandro Montelibano, a Silaynon from a prominent family was arrested and sentenced guilty of plotting against the crown. Later he was exiled in Guam.

The Cry at El Cinco de Noviembre. Upon the request of the Iloilo Revolutionary Council to start hostilities, Gen. Aniceto Lacson of Talisay, the military commander of Northern Negros went to Silay in November 3 to meet Nicolas Golez, deputy military commander, Leandro Locsin and Melecio Severino. They set the date of the uprising – November 5, 1898. Messengers were sent out to inform the hacienderos to bring the troops armed with bolos and machete. The pistols and rifle were not even enough to arm 15 people.

On November 4, the Silaynon rebels cut off all telegraphic wires. The repairman was sent into Silay but the residents did not allow the connection.

Cinco de Noviembre played a significant role in the history of Silay. On that day at about 2:00 in the afternoon, Silaynons gathered in the street corner now known as Cinco de Noviembre Street and from there they proceeded to the Spanish garrison near the Catholic Church. It was a bloodless revolution. At first the Spanish civil guards refused to surrender but after the negotiation with the revolutionaries through the help of Juan Viaplana, a local Spaniard, they surrendered. The agreement papers mentioned that the civil guards gave up only after a heroic resistance against overwhelming odds. It was done to save Spanish honor. The Philippine lag made by Olympia Severino, Eutropia Yorac and Perpetua Severino was raised for the first time at the plaza on that memorable day – Saturday, November 5, 198. Leandro Locsin was acclaimed temporary president after the signing of the signing of the terms of surrender. Timoteo Unson and the group of Silaynons marched to Talisay to join forces with the Talisaynon for the attack o Bacolod.

When the Americans landed in Negros, Silaynons fought against them to preserve their newly gained independence. Melecio Severino was first arrested for his alleged involvement with anti-American forces but was later released. The Americans appointed Jose Luzuriaga to replace Severino and Leandro Locsin was appointed Governor when Luzuriaga was appointed to the Phil. Commission.

For more, visit:

September 26, 2008 6:35 AM  

Blogger nutart said...

Yah, NoyPetes, I would have thought about that too myself (hahaha!) but embarassing rin yun ginawa ko making fun of the elevator kasi building yun mismo ni Locsin. he has a penthouse pala on top of it. I was able to see it one time when a lunch party was held there. The director then of the PHSA highschool (Tata Nanding Josef) where i taught just brought me there and lo and behold I was in back to deja vu (Locsin) building but this time all the way up to the penthouse with all the who's who in Kulturaland! I think the elevator too was changed...imagine hearing that voice announcing floors everyday? At least, you can make funny noises while it goes on (lol)!

Eric, I had stayed with a prominent family in Silay as a sort of foster-guest. Their house/manor was full of Amorsolos, Legaspi(s), Joyas etc.! The first question I was asked is "whose family are you from?" I said of course the names of my family of both sides, their origins etc. Of course, it didn't ring a bell because I was not of the buena pamilya but of a sort of Gabriela Marquez nobela lineage ;-)---full of strange characters (haha!)! One of my close friend illustrated the Cinco de Nobiembre children's book! We also staged our shadow play there and no wonder the CCP people were quite nervous as how the people of Silay would approve of it. We passed their (Silaynon's) taste naman. Thanks to Yoyoy Villame's witty songs :-D...

September 26, 2008 9:20 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for an informative post, eric. :)

i had to pass on a huge book about locsin at the recent book fair bec it was so expensive!

i like the ccp. maluwag pero homey ang feeling. :)

September 26, 2008 9:23 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

There were loads of wonderful coffee table books on Filipiniana, Danii! But unable to get any. I'll wait when I win the lotto so I can collect them all ... hehehe.

The interior of the CCP has great features such as the winding staircase that I would've loved to photograph.

September 26, 2008 10:22 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

"I had stayed with a prominent family in Silay as a sort of foster-guest. Their house/manor was full of Amorsolos, Legaspi(s), Joyas etc.! The first question I was asked is 'whose family are you from?'"

If I were born in one of these sugar haciendero families, Bernadette, I probably would be of odds now since I've come to realize that the only good thing about sugar is that it tastes good, but other than that it's poison and highly addictive at that!

And that is why sugar is added to almost everything we eat these days — to make them taste better. The fact that sugar is highly addictive does not prevent our food industry from adding it to many of its processed food products. Actually, as long as the packaging label includes sucrose under the list of ingredients, the government gives manufacturers its seal of approval.

The lack of public pressure to acknowledge the adverse effects of sugar makes it even more difficult to lick one’s addiction to it. Worse, sugar has been accepted as a natural fact of life even to a wider extent compared to alcohol and cigarettes. Through our pop culture, sugar has been embedded in our psyche as being sweet; therefore, nice. This explains why in certain social circles, to call attention to one’s dependency on sugar is akin to being cute or downright silly.

But here’s the scary part, according to Licking Sugar Addiction by Elizabeth Bohorquez, “Sugar is well known as the underlying addiction to all addictions, and can be seen hiding under alcoholism, caffeine, nicotine and drug addictions of all varieties from recreational to over-the-counter, as well as prescription medications.”

I am cognizant of the almost superhuman efforts required to defeat an addiction; that oftentimes, spiritual introspection is needed as well. After all, addiction is a soul thing. Thus, I have decided to dedicate my Wednesday postings on this particular journey.

During my early days as a blogger, I've posted my thoughts/opinion on sugar:

As well as the perils of artificial sweetener, Aspartame:

And the man behind in making this chemical legalized in America:

As for our so-called "Sugar Barons" -- they were reputed to be a well-organized power brokers who used their economic might to achieve political ends. Their patterns of conspicuous consumption and attention to the social graces dominated society pages of broadsheets and set the pace for the Filipino cultural elite.

And since sugar was at one point mainly produced for export and financed with foreign capital, planters associated with foreign traders, financiers and officials. Hence, planters began considering themselves to be highly cosmopolitan of Filipinos who were -- by virtue of their sophistication and foreign education -- the natural leaders of their more "benighted" countrymen.

As for the rest of the western world, I think sugar was one that spurred slavery.

Thus, I think it's rather condescending for these sugar baron families -- against the backdrop of their Amorsolos, Legaspis, Hidalgos, Joyas and whatever else status of affluence -- to question another's lineage when in fact sugar, the source of their great wealth mainly poisons the human body ... hehehe.

September 26, 2008 10:56 AM  

Blogger nutart said...

yep, Eric! I was, for the first time, thrust in a real life scenario of how it is in an Oro Plata Mata movie. The maids were kept in a distance. Conversation during dinner centered on the best Bally shoes buy and whatever brand names can be bought in Makati. The sons and daughters and in-laws stuck to themes like shopping while the father and mother at the heads of the table stuck to "you should buy this and that." I finally made conversation with the help during lunch when they served me a dish called takway or something. I said my deep appreciation for all the delicious food and since I was being served alone, even the cook decided to join in our little party. But the distance between us was still quite wide---they were all standing by the kitchen door. They would only come close when I needed a second helping which when I did, went and sat in the kitchen instead with them. I guess i shocked them as well as I would my hostess with my candid rendition of my lineage ;-). These sugar barons talaga! Thanks, Eric! I did read on these Negros sugar barons even before I got to Silay. They even look down on those sugar barons in Bacolod and Iloilo...and you know what?---vice-versa! Interesting, no? That modernity, cultural classes and sophistication can be quite strange timeless habits.

September 26, 2008 6:43 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Amazing, indeed, Bernadette! And I'm sure these Visayan sugar planters look down on the sugar planters of Pampanga and Tarlac ... hehehe.

The household help you've described remind me of the sales staff at NY's Bergdorf Goodman store. They remain at a comfortable distance until their assistance is required. I like that because I don't enjoy being pressured to buy anything.

However, on household settings, I cringe whenever my cousins' household help and drivers call me "sir." I always insist on being referred to as "Kuya Eric." It's warmer.

September 27, 2008 2:51 AM  

Blogger NOYPETES said...

Thanks for the Silay info Eric.

September 27, 2008 4:13 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

My pleasure, Pete.

Silay is one fine and artsy town. Your father must be proud :)

September 27, 2008 8:42 AM  

Blogger escape said...

i can really relate to this right now as i am here in bacolod and that ill be in iloilo specifically in molo next week.

thanks to this info.

September 27, 2008 11:05 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Nice! I wouldn't be surprised if you make a stopover at Silay also, donG :)

Enjoy at ingat!

September 27, 2008 1:06 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi! I read all your comments, thanks for the info about silay and nonoy lindy. sayang ndi ko na cya nakita. can you post more picture of his works?
('',) --- Cora ---

November 21, 2008 9:05 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I shall, Cora, as soon as I have the oppotunity to find and take pictures of his other wonderful creations :)

November 21, 2008 12:01 PM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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