A timeless beauty

HIDDEN AGENDA - Mary Ann LL. Reyes - The Philippine Star

Many probably do not know this, but the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) made history as Asia’s first international convention center, setting a trend that led other countries to build their own centers.

PICC was designed by Leandro V. Locsin who was also earlier invited by then first lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos to design the Cultural Center of the Philippines in 1966. Locsin would later be named National Artist in 1990.

According to one account, the idea of a convention center came about when Imelda Marcos learned of plans of specialized agencies of the United Nations to hold conferences in the Philippines. The Philippines’ decision to host the joint meeting of the Board of Governors of the World Bank-IMF in 1976 was aimed to establish Manila as the financial center of Asia.

Construction of the PICC began in September 1974, barely two months after the inauguration of the Folk Arts Theater. At the behest of Imelda, it was finished at the incredible speed of two years. PICC formally opened on Sept. 5, 1976 to host the World Bank-International Monetary Fund annual meeting.

On Sept. 21, 1976, the Batasang Bayan, which was to serve as legislative body before the Interim Batasang Pambansa, convened in 1978 and held its inauguration at the PICC.

In his book entitled “Edifice Complex: Power, Myth and Marcos State Architecture,” Gerard Lico described the PICC as follows: “Floating massive geometric rectangular volumes penetrate the space with the profuse use of cantilevers and wide overhangs, which were a mainstay of Locsin’s signature architecture. The dark-bronze tinted curtain wall and the formal reflecting pool further amplify the buoyant maneuvers of Locsin’s architectural composition and defy, albeit illusorily, the gravitational pull. Again the concept of floating lanes to visually suspend the floor levels were borrowed from the vernacular house on stilts.”

Since then, the PICC has become the venue of choice for international events such as the World Chess Olympiad and the Miss Universe Pageant in 1994, the APEC meeting in 1996, the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in 2015, the 30th ASEAN Summit in 2017. It also served as venue for concerts of international artists like Luciano Pavarotti, the Bolshoi Ballet, Janet Jackson, Burt Bacharach and our very own Lea Salonga.

PICC officials said that the center continues to host over 400 big and small events annually, and this is not just because they have managed to preserved the prestige and elegance that the center has been known for, but also because their team of professionally trained staff has always been attuned to the needs of their clients.

The PICC is also probably the only event venue that can be considered as a house of art, having the artworks of six National Artists displayed in their buildings. It is also the only convention center in the world that has sculptures from the different APEC member economies.

It is also important to emphasize that the PICC is itself an architectural landmark. Considered as one of the most iconic structures in the country, Locsin’s masterpiece will be 50 years old in 2026, making it a national heritage building.

Officials explained that to preserve its beauty and integrity, PICC constantly undergoes rehabilitation and upgrading. It has a technical services department whose core function is to maintain and upgrade the facilities and the structures, and a facilities and property division which oversees landscaping and interior design, pest control and cleanliness, and also handles the inventory of artworks and repair of furniture and fixtures.

Aside from preserving the aesthetics of the buildings, PICC adapts sustainability practices in its operations by implementing various environmental programs on energy efficiency, water conservation and sewage treatment, waste management, and other environmental practices in air quality, buildings and lawns, and food and beverage services.

PICC has partnered with Green Architecture Advocacy Philippines (GreenAP) to be the venue of the 16th Green Forum on Aug. 30-31. One of the highlights of the forum, which carries the theme Sus10ability Through the Decade, is a walking tour of the PICC that will showcase its sustainable strategies.

Officials also noted that while local and international competitors have newer, technologically advanced facilities, PICC still enjoys a distinct edge as it provides world-class personalized service to all clients. They pointed out that their clients have tried other venues but their events do not evoke the same sense of prestige as when they are held in PICC. This is why PICC’s client base is expanding and increasing in number every year.

New warehouse, more jobs

Cementaid Philippines Inc., is set to increase its manpower by 27 percent with the inauguration of a newly expanded warehouse adjacent to its manufacturing plant in Barangay San Antonio, San Pedro, Laguna.

According to Cementaid senior manager for Philippines and Indonesia Rodillo dela Pasion, the 470-square-meter facility was prompted by the increased demand for concrete admixtures along with the robust growth of the construction industry over the last decade.

Pasion said there has been a significant increase in demand for quality concrete waterproofing products as infrastructure continues to be a high priority in public works, which Cementaid took as an opportunity to expand its manufacturing capacities and better serve not just its customers, but the community as well.

Meanwhile, Cemantaid Philippines national sales manager Manuel Gamis revealed that a 64 percent increase in sales is expected following a planned enhancement of retail products.

He explained that they are always looking at different ways to improve the quality of their products and services as they continue to push for reliable concrete. The firm has recently partnered with four new distributors to serve Davao, Palawan, Bacolod, and the Ilocos Region.

Cementaid International pioneered a type of permanent waterproofing admixture called hydrophobic pore-blocking ingredient (HPI) that prevents the absorption of moisture and helps maintain the structural integrity of concrete. The Australia-based firm first set foot in the Philippines in 2010 with a subsidiary in Parañaque. Cementaid Philippines later moved to a 2,000-square-meter manufacturing plant in San Pedro, Laguna, to further meet the country’s fast-growing demand for concrete-enhancing products.

The expanded warehouse’ inauguration was attended by the company’s distributor in Cebu, LSB general manager Anthony Lim, and representatives from key players in the local construction market such as D.M. Consunji Inc., Makati Development Corp., and Monocrete Construction Philippines. Top structural and architectural firms also attended including Sy^2 + Associates Inc.; RCHITECTS Inc.; CASAS+ Architects; Edward Co Tan + Architects; H1 Architecture; WTA Architecture and Design Studio; and Mañosa & Co.

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