Core values and principles

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Last of two parts

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(The first part of “To the future architects, designers, planners, and engineers of the Philippines” appeared last Thursday.)

TO help bring our country well into the 21st century, we can start with ourselves by identifying and strengthening our core values. I always tell my staff that core values are like lighthouses, they cannot be moved. They will always be there to guide us. They don’t move even in stormy weather. If I may share with you our core values:

Professionalism and Excellence.

Honesty, Integrity, Innovativeness, Agility, and Versatility.

Business Orientation
We recognize that every project, in addition to its technical feasibility, its aesthetic and functional features, must also be economically and financially viable with a long term vision of elevating the international stature of the Filipino professional.

Nature and the Environment
We recognize that we are merely borrowing the environment from future generations, therefore we endeavor to minimize the impact of our actions, plans, and designs, enhance the environment and minimize the negative impact of our projects.

Spirituality
Ultimately, we recognize that God is the Creator, Master Planner, and Chief Architect of the Universe. In gratitude, we honor Him through sanctifying our work and through good stewardship of His blessings.

Our previous and present slogans have also served as guideposts in achieving our purpose and goal. We started with recognizing that “We are professionals serving other professionals.” Our pursuit to surpass previously held benchmarks inspired us to aim for “Architecture, Planning, Design, and Engineering towards global excellence.”[Opinion Editor’s note: The Times style uses the American "toward” but we have retained the Palafox Group’s use of the British "towards” in the preceding sentence because it is its slogan.]

Palafox Associates and Palafox Architecture Group adhere to several models like the triple E or triple P approaches as one of its unique value propositions. The triple E model stands for Social Equity, Earth, Economy, or it could also be referred to as triple P – People, Planet, and Profit. The firm’s plans and designs embody care for the environment, promotion of social growth and development and take into consideration the impact to community, city and humanity. We also like to add Culture, History, Heritage, and Spirituality.

More lessons to learn and bigger dreams to achieve
They say the harshest critic you can ever have is yourself, and for someone who works in an industry responsible for the architecture, planning, and design of buildings, towns, communities, and cities for millions of people, you need to be at the top of your game. At age 65, I still continue my professional development through education. It is very important to continuously seek mentors and coaches because in life, the more you learn, the more you know that you don’t know. Remember that today is not the end of your education; rather it is only the beginning.

I have also given talks, presentations, and lectures in 18 countries. For in sharing your knowledge with others, you also gain expertise. I have also learned through my mentors that every line I draw should improve life rather than disrupt it. Mistakes are better seen on paper than in concrete.

One of my favorite quotes is that of Daniel Burnham, who planned Manila in 1905 and Baguio in 1909. He said, “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. MAKE BIG PLANS. AIM High in high Hope and Work. Remember that a noble diagram, once recorded will never die. But long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever growing insistence. Remember that our sons and daughters are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watch word be ORDER and BEACON BEAUTY.”

In 2006, at the 60th Anniversary of the United Nations held in New York, I suggested that all the continents of the world should be connected by bridges and tunnels. People might have thought it was a crazy idea at that time. Not long enough, scientists and experts affirmed my idea and one even said it would cost cheaper than the Iraq war.

In our professional practice at Palafox Associates and Palafox Architecture, we take pictures of the “uglification” of our cities and reimagine them into better places. We then turn these ideas into powerful images and send them to our politicians as Postcards from the Future. Dreaming big, I have always been inspired by a quote from Robert Francis Kennedy, “Some men see things as they are and say, ‘Why?’ I dream things that never were and say, ‘Why not?”

Lastly, I would like to leave with you an assignment my professor in Harvard has given me. He told us to write our own eulogy. If you die tonight, what legacy would you leave behind for your children and the future generations?

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