TIME magazine labeled 1989 as “The Year That Changed the World.” Europe saw its divisions and its centrality wither, Germany finally saw the Fall of the Berlin Wall, China pushed for democracy at Tiananmen Square, South Africa’s apartheid system has started to collapse, and the world started to feel the impact of the Internet’s Big Bang. Back home, the Philippines experienced coup d’etats against the Aquino government, and the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) was created. Because of all these events, the country’s construction industry was at one of its lowest points. It was a tumultuous year to be starting an architecture, planning, and design firm.
But for the optimist in me, 1989 was “The Year the Changed my Life.”
Palafox Associates was born in a period of change and challenges, and change is what has kept the company on its toes as a multi-disciplinary firm, and challenges are what has made the firm strong and invited its employees to think outside the box.
When people ask me what is our best project, I always say it’s the next one, because I know that the next project opens up new opportunities, new standards for our staff to meet and and hone their craft in. This is not because I am a perfectionist, but because at 64, I’m still trying to improve myself, striving to elevate my expertise, for in order to do better at your work, you have to completely immerse yourself in it. You have to fall in love with your work, and give a part of your life into it.
This continuing strive to be first at everything I do is something that has been instilled in me since I was young. I grew up in a big family: I have six other brothers and three sisters, and each of us were disciplined by our parents to do best in everything we do and value hard work, honesty, integrity, and appreciate the beauty in art and music. All the boys in the family were sent to the Seminary to “test” our fortitude. So as a young boy, I spent most of my days serving as an altar boy and bell ringer in our church in Bacarra, Ilocos Norte.Ora et Labora (Pray and Work) was all I knew.
I always tell my staff that core values are like lighthouses, they cannot be moved. That is why we have core values that we live up to in our company, and honesty and integrity are the top, followed closely with professionalism and excellence.
The success of the firm’s longevity is due to our staff’s international experience, expertise, and continuing education. We recognize that we are professionals serving other professionals, and we advise our clients with the highest level of professionalism and excellence they rightfully deserve through our honesty, integrity, innovativeness, agility, and versatility.
Big plans, bigger risks
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. So when I started practicing architecture and planning, I was extra careful that every line that I draw improves life rather than disrupt it.
We’re not out to create trophies for ourselves. I don’t plan to put my signature on my projects. Rather, I believe each project has its own uniqueness, or identity. We’re out there to enhance its uniqueness. As much as I may love finishing first, I find winning against the design constraints of our country and winning over climate change with forward-thinking projects is a greater reward that no trophy or recognition could ever give.
2014 has been a monumental year for Palafox Associates and Palafox Architecture Group as our firm celebrated its 25th year in the architecture, planning, engineering, real estate, and design industry. Palafox Associates, in its 25 years of existence, has been able to perceive the planning initiatives of the past, its impact on the pesent urbanized districts, and the possibility of interweaving effective traditional planning concepts with the challenges posed by the future.
As the firm continues to envision a social and environmental renaissance through its innovative, sustainable, and exemplary practice of architecture, planning, engineering, and design, it also remains open to the challenges and opportunities that lends to the firm’s virtue of versatility.
With the reality of the Asean Mutual Recognition Arrangement taking effect next year, our firm has taken the necessary steps towards the border-less practice with the firm’s introduction of its new Palafox Architecture Group. The group serves as the architectural design arm of Palafox Associates and has steadily garnered big and challenging projects for the firm since its formal launch during the firm’s anniversary celebration this year. The next 25, 50, 75, 100, 200 years is an exciting time for Palafox Associates and Palafox Architecture as we continue to plan and design sustainable futures for all.