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Ildefonso P. Santos, HS ’48, is National Artist for Architecture

National Artist Ildefonso SantosIldefonso P. Santos Jr. (HS ’48) was recently proclaimed National Artist for his outstanding achievement in architecture.

After naming Salvador Bernal (AB '66), Ateneo de Manila University Interdisciplinary Studies Department faculty, as National Artist for Theater and Design in 2003, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo conferred another Ateneo alumnus the prestigious title.

Santos pioneered landscaping architecture in the Philippines. He has been commissioned by local and foreign entities for private and public parks, buildings, and schools. He is best known for his works in Caliraya Lake Resort in Laguna and Raintree Sports Club in Kuala Lumpur. He also set up the “Execution of Dr. Jose Rizal” at Rizal Park and the Paco circular cemetery, where Jose Rizal was first buried in an ummarked grave.

His genius was developed in two prestigious schools in the Philippines and overseas. Aside from obtaining a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Santo Tomas in 1954, he also received another bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles in 1956. It was also in USC where he finished his master’s degree.

When he returned to the country in 1963, he set up his own architecture firm which was commissioned to do local and international projects. Santos was also active in the academe. In 1986, he became head of University of the Philippines' graduate program in tropical landscape architecture.

Santos joins six other awardees for 2006, namely, Bienvenido L. Lumbera (Literature), Ramon A. Obusan (Dance), Benedicto R. Cabrera (Painting), Ramon Valera (Fashion, posthumous), Abdulmari Asia Imao (Sculpture), and Fernando Poe Jr. (Film, posthumous). The awarding ceremony has yet to be set.

Bernal in 2003

On June 25, 2003, Bernal was conferred the National Artist Award for Theater and Design at the Ceremonial Hall of Malacañang Palace.

Throughout his three-decade career, Bernal worked on all the major theatrical forms such as ballet, opera, musical theater, and drama. He also enriched theater design in the country despite budget constraints. In place of expensive materials, he experimented with, pioneered, and promoted the use of local materials such as bamboo, raw abaca and abaca fiber, hemp twine, rattan chain links, and gauze cacha.

But Bernal is more than a genius in theater design. As director for production design at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), he proposed the establishment of the CCP Production Building. As scholar, he co-authored “Patterns for the Filipino Dress: From Traje de Mestiza to the Terno,” the most comprehensive study published on the subject to date. As poet, he wrote “The Firetrees Burn All Summer and Other Poems,” which received the Loyola Schools Publications Award and was shortlisted for the National Book Awards.

The Award

The National Artist Award (Gawad Pambansang Alagad ng Sining) is the highest national recognition given to Filipino individuals who have made significant contributions to the development of Philippine arts; namely, Music, Dance, Theater, Visual Arts, Literature, Film, Broadcast Arts, and Architecture and Allied Arts. Established in 1972 by virtue of  Proclamation No. 1001, the award is jointly administered by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the CCP and conferred by the Government of the Philippines upon recommendation by both institutions.

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