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Filipino Architect Gerard Lico: Depth and balance

Architect Gerard Lico in "The Making of Quezon City"

Yes, Gerard Lico, also known as Gerry Lico, architects life of many people and institutions but he isn’t your ordinary designer.

He’s not your typical architect who just sits lazily in a corner and waits for offers. He makes things happen. He motivates even the most people and technocrats to come up with the most relevant architecture there is to explore and to realize.

These I discovered when I was only coordinating with him for a documentary film project and discerning in the process what really he was like.

Lico didn’t know me personally from Adam when I located him for an interview. We (together with controversial Fil-Briton filmmaker Jowee Morel, the director of the film) were looking for a respondent who could talk about the city planning and development aside from the Quezon City personnel on construction and spacing in public landscapes. It was historian and TV personality Xiao Chua who gave us the idea to get in touch with Gerry because according to the De La Salle University and UP prof, he was a very credible and authoritative resource person who could lend and discuss the history of city planning in the city comprehensively. Xiao said I could get access to Lico at the College of Architecture of the University of the Philippines.

Extracted from"The Making of Quezon City"

So I immediately I looked at the contact point of the UP College of Architecture, Googled at it and came across the entity, Lico’s name and the stories that come with them. I also got the telephone numbers of the college. Not contented with Google, though, I later located Gerry in Facebook. And voila! He was very accommodating with a request on an interview on the subject.

I altogether dropped the idea of interviewing the other prominent architect who wasn’t even responding and seemed he couldn’t care less with my FB Messenger request for a long time.

Gerry was very genuine and generous with his ideas and information about the past architectural structures of the city especially during the pre-war and even beyond it. His knowledge of the construction history of Quezon City was gushing easily from his head.

Old Quezon City

It is because he is well-informed and a well-rounded pro as an architect. He doesn’t just look plainly at barely at the blueprint of his plan he looks deeper into the labyrinth of his project as well. In other words, he is multidisciplinary in his approach to creating and to interpreting his and other designers’ designs.

That’s why when we got Lico on camera for the documentary film “The Making of Quezon City,” a project of the Quezon City Public Library (QCPL), he wasn’t just talking about the formal appearance of say, the façade of a building but he was interrelating as well what constitutes its creation also depend on many factors like traditions and influences on the styles of the buildings etc.

Lico’s personal story is a narrative of his many facets like being a father and a family man where his creativity is also a major factor in the success of his filial management. As an artist equipped with the epistemology of the elements of arts, Gerry knows balance too well he also applies to his private citizenship.

From "The Making of Quezon City"

It is no wonder he was one of the most formidable members of the prestigious and credible Young Critics Circle (YCC), a group of academe-based arts critics with fresh ideas on art criticism. Although he is an erstwhile member, he hasn’t severed his ties with the group and he still upholds the ideals of fair, practical and erudite criticism.

In the past, YCC had desks in various art forms like music, dance, film, visual arts, architecture etc but as it journeyed in the many fields including show business, what remains now is mostly the film desk. According to the blurb of YCC in its website, “we bring into the analysis of film an interdisciplinary approach.”

The parameters YCC use in its criticism is multidisciplinary that is why Gerry fitted in to the objectives of the circle in performing his sense of duties and responsibilities in making and reviewing every work of art. Just listen to the Sine-Sipat forum of YCC every time they hold their awarding ceremonies. There is always an intensive and extensive discussion on any subject organic and inherent in films. Film isn’t only an entertainment object it is also a cultural artifact, a socio-political animal. Film isn’t only a diversion it is also a significant educational tool to advance life in general.

Lico isn’t the head of the restoration of the Metropolitan Theater for nothing because the grandness and magnitude of its rising from ashes is indeed a challenge for him and he is step-by-step walking his talk.

His being a former technocrat of the Architecture Division of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) has testified his managerial acumen on many projects in and out the public sphere.

He is also a celebrated representative of the Philippines in many arts exhibits and seminars across the world. He has just mounted an installation art of his design in Europe and he was well-received and applauded.

Quezon City Memorial Circle - "Making of Quezon City" 

As a teacher, he sees to it that his protégées are well-entrenched in the history of the nation not only on the political realities of the past and present but also on the social impact of architecture in the most number of Filipino citizens. For Lico, edifices all around us are reflection of our hearts and minds as a society so that we regard them as our guide to nationhood.

In “The Making of Quezon City,” Gerry’s sound bites are very informational and vital to the meaning and understanding of the emergence of spaces in modern societies especially in the metropolis. Architecture isn’t only the strength of materials or the Baroque or the Corinthian influences but its usefulness to the majority of people in our society.     

Facade of Baler Museum, Baler, Aurora, Quezon


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