News & Insights

Architecture, planning and urban design: Palafox Associates' 33 years

Today, we at Palafox Associates are celebrating our 33rd anniversary! Looking back at our humble beginnings and at a panoramic view of the past three decades, I am profoundly grateful to see how Palafox Associates has grown into a multidisciplinary team of professionals — architects, designers, urban and environmental planners, engineers, partners, staffers and accredited consultants — and be able to complete more than 1,800 projects in 40 countries. Throughout the 33 years, we have attained the master planning of over 50 billion square meters of land and the architecture and design of more than 20 million square meters of building floor area.

July 1989 was not an ideal time to start a company, but with the support of my wife, Wilma, and my family, I took a leap of faith and established Palafox Associates' professional practice in architecture, urban planning, and master planning. Myself and three other colleagues worked even on weekends and holidays to finish projects from three different time zones: Asian, American and European. In our first few years, we worked together in a rented office space in a condominium. Our working tables were made of plywood, and to make them last, we covered them in leather.

Today, we have so much to be grateful for. Firstly, I would like to give thanks to our Chief Architect and Chief Planner, our Lord Almighty, for all His blessings and to my family for their unwavering support. Next, Palafox Associates would not have been able to achieve all its milestones without the hard work, talent, skills, commitment and loyalty of our colleagues, staffers, team leaders, and project managers. I am very proud to see my colleagues exerting their best. Hard work pays off in ways money cannot measure. Together, we have spent millions of man hours together to plan and develop opportunities for others. It is a privilege to serve with you through our professions. We would not have accomplished so many projects and so many firsts without our core values and design and planning principles.

Palafox Associates is the first Filipino firm to be included in the world's top 500, 300, and 200; to be among Asean firms included in the top 100 architects as per World Architecture Magazine, London; the first Filipino architecture firm to be ISO-certified in management and environmental management in the fields of architecture, urban planning, environmental planning, landscape architecture, interior design, among others; the architects and planners of Rockwell Center— the pioneer of mixed-use developments in the Philippines; the Leyte Ecological Industrial Zone — the Philippines' first ecological zone — and the Batangas State University's Knowledge, Innovation, and Science Technology (KIST) Park — the Philippines' first KIST Park; and many others.

We have also achieved other architectural and planning feats and milestones like the Sultan Hassanal Al Bolkiah Masjid in Cotabato, the largest mosque in the country; the Gulf Dream Tourist City in the United Arab Emirates; the King Abdullah Financial District in Saudi Arabia; the Philippines' Embassy and Chancery in Brunei Darussalam; the Asian Development Bank Third Atrium; SM Malls; and Robinsons Malls; Fisher Mall; the Tarlac Medical Center; Proposed Master Redevelopment Plan of St. Luke's Medical Center; the Pasig RiverRehabilitation Plan; the La Mesa Ecopark; the Marikina Riverfront Conceptual Master Plan; the Pampanga Megalopolis; the Master Development Plan and Business Plan of Clark Freeport Zone; the Metro Davao Urban Master Plan; the Metro Ilocos Master Development Plan;.the Corregidor Comprehensive Tourism Master Plan; the Zamboanga City Comprehensive Land Use Plan; the San Juan City Comprehensive Land Use Plan and Urban Design; and the Iloilo Comprehensive Land Use Plan and Zoning Ordinance; among others. We are also looking forward to the completion of the SMC Aerocity, which is envisioned to be among the world's largest aerocities.

We are thankful to our clients in the private sector, the government, and civic organizations for the opportunity to plan and design urban centers, international gateways, communities, offices schools, shopping centers, hospitals, hotels, resorts, civic centers, and places of worship, among others, here and abroad. Your continued support, trust, and confidence in us have helped us develop visionary plans for brighter futures for our communities and cities.

The many challenges we have hurdled, gave us numerous opportunities too. Coinciding with our 33rd anniversary is my golden jubilee or 50 years as an architect. I am immensely grateful for countless learning experiences and for the core values and principles I picked up along the way and continue to uphold, which I also encourage my colleagues at Palafox Associates to abide by. I have always said that these are like lighthouses, especially during challenging circumstances, for these values and principles will strengthen and guide us through stormy weather. Our core principles include: 1) Integral Ecology or people first, then planet earth or the natural environment, and the profit or economic development without forgetting culture, history, heritage, and identity, and interfaith spirituality; 2) 12 Green Sustainable Design Principles; 3) Green Urbanism; 4) Green Architecture; 5) New Urbanism; and 6) Re-Century to re-imagine, re-plan, re-architecture, redesign, re-engineer, re-develop, renew, reduce, reuse, recycle to hopefully achieve Renaissance.

For every building, community, and city we help plan and design, each project should be "Pro Deo, Patri, et Terra" — for God, Country, and Planet Earth. We do not only design architecture for business and infrastructure, we strongly advocate Patriotic Architecture, Philanthropic Architecture, Architectural Activism, Architecture for Humanity, Architecture of Faith, Architecture for the Poor, Architecture for Transportation, Green Architecture, and Democratic Architecture, and we will continue our commitment to promote urban and regional development in the Philippines.

It is our goal that Filipinos and the beneficiaries of our projects would be able to live, work, study, play, and thrive in environment-friendly, master-planned, and well-designed buildings, communities, and cities that are smart, resilient, livable, accessible, walkable, bikeable, safer, better lit, convenient, and clean with mixed-income, cross-generational, mixed-use developments that integrate places to live, work, shop, dine, learn, and worship with healthcare recreation, leisure, and 24-hour-cycle activity centers.

Our journey at Palafox has just begun. In spite of the challenges throughout the years, having a rear view of the past and a windshield view of the future can guide us in envisioning what is next for our growing firm in the next decades and beyond. With God's grace, we will continue to serve Him, the people, the country and the planet!