The leadership of the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) under National President Arch. Renato Heray for this fiscal year 2020-2021 is marked by this year’s theme of “Noble Leadership, Good Governance and Members First.” One of the hallmarks this professional organization has done this year of the pandemic is the “Members First” approach.

It cannot be denied that the pandemic has claimed several lives with no end in sight amid the hope the vaccines coming into the country will be able to save all of us.

The members of the organization like all other professional organizations have only ourselves to protect thru personal protective equipment, face masks, face shields, alcohol, hospital treatments and other medicines to strengthen our immune systems. Fear, disappointments, anxieties, members tested positive and even died from the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) have made life uneasy for members of the UAP.

Hence the Members Welfare Fund was initiated this year by the Commission on Internal Affairs headed by Arch. Vanessa Lagman Ledesma thru the blessing of the National Board, to help assist members who were tested positive or passed away because of Covid-19.

Another challenge of the UAP leadership is the support it can provide to the various chapters nationwide and even outside of the country. The Professional Development Commission headed by Arch. Virgilio Andres made sure the free continuing professional development programs would readily be available to the members thru the online platforms and social media. Even the UAP National Secretariat had worked double time at the UAP headquarters to thresh out concerns of its members. In several occasions, the humble and kind-hearted National President Arch. Heray would call the chapter presidents and give them assurances that the UAP National is on top of the situation, making sure the concerns of the members and chapters are being processed and taken care of by the UAP Secretariat.

On one occasion, Arch. Heray, together with Secretary-General Arch. Jonathan Manalad, visited the UAP Nueva Ecija Central Palayan Chapter headed by Arch. Voltaire Agbayani to preside over their induction ceremonies last year. This was the first trip they did outside of the UAP headquarters to the delight of the Palayan Chapter members. On another occasion, he called the president of UAP Daraga Cagsawa chapter Arch. Ana Capuno to be updated on the Bayanihan Arkitektura project the chapter was doing for the community. There were many more of hands-on concerns the national president had been doing to uplift the members of the UAP.

Even Past National President Medeliano Roldan, the chair of the committee on Republic Act 9266 who regularly visited Arch. Heray at the UAP Headquarters has this to say, “NP (National President) Rene’s friendship goes way back to the early 2010 when his chapter was tapped to help me in the first International Conference of Architects together with the APEC Architects Council meeting in the Philippines. Arch. Rene Heray of UAP Cavite Chapter consented and the bonding started from there. I knew Rene Heray was unselfish and dedicated to the profession.”

Secretary-General Manalad also has good words for NP Rene, “ I have never been too sure whom to give my loyalty of service until you became my National President.”

My pronouncement then as the 26th National President during the National Conference of Architects in 2019 at Koronadal, South Cotabato acclaimed in advance that Arch. Heray would make a good leader and the next UAP National President. I had no doubt he would stamp his mark with his theme of Members First during this pandemic.

It was unfortunate that Arch. Heray was not able to finish his term as he unexpectedly passed away a few weeks ago. Even the UAP National Secretariat lost a true employee in the person of Mr. Jason Aban who died two weeks earlier. And some of the UAP officers and members and even the Secretariat had been found Covid-positive and are still healing themselves.

NP Rene’s legacy was that despite the pandemic, he was able to touch the lives of the members. He was accommodating, friendly and always smiling. He served the organization well and was fondly associated with the Bayanihan Arkitektura committee and the corporate social responsibility projects of the UAP. He will be well remembered for that.

Thank you for your dedication and service to the professional organization. May you rest well now in the loving arms of Our Creator, Arch. Renato A. Heray, the 27th UAP National President.

Arch. Benjamin K. Panganiban, Jr., FUAP is the immediate past national president of the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) and the first national president from Mindanao.

He has been in the private practice for more than 34 years and is a fellow of the UAP. He is also the first Asean and APEC architect from Davao City. He is a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Mindanao, a doctor fellow of the Royal Institute of Architects Singapore and a recipient of the European Business Assembly.