Pursuing Horizons: The Story of Architect Marco Bildan
“As long as new technology, new discoveries, new inventions in buildings & utilities are present, my professional advancement in architecture and plumbing must follow.” – Ar. Bildan
This month, we had the privilege to have a one-on-one chat with one of the most inspiring personalities in the field of Modern Philippine Architecture. Architect Marco Bildan is the current Dean of the College of Architecture & Fine Arts of Tarlac State University, and working at MFB Design Solutions as well. As if that isn’t enough, he also has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and is currently pursuing a Doctorate Degree. He is truly an inspiration for all aspiring architects and a true example to the members of the academe. He is one of the most distinguished personalities in architecture today, being a recognized fellow of both the National Master Plumbers Association of the Philippines, and United Architects of the Philippines. He is also currently a candidate in the ASEAN Architect (AA)–PRC, and an appointed Representative of the Academe by PDC Engineering Evolve.
However, for Architect Bildan, it hasn’t always been all achievements and high profiles. Being the youngest of three engineer brothers and two accountant ones, he was pressured to take up architecture in college, allegedly to complete their family’s future construction firm, in spite of the fact that he was more inclined to music and the arts. And yet, even with the tribulations of college life, he grew to love architecture. After exactly five years, with a lot of perseverance, diligence, and hard work, Architect Bildan finished with a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and had the privilege to take the plumbing board exam without the mandatory OJT requirement.
He then started his post graduate apprenticeship as project draftsman with AG & P, and within six months, he was assigned as Architectural Quality Assurance Officer in the construction of the 33-storey Pacific Star Building. But given the high cost of living in the big city of imperialistic Manila, the salary he was given could not sustain his basic needs. However, there is a saying that goes, “when one door closes, another one opens.” In his home province of Tarlac, Architect Bildan found an opportunity in the academe, and just in time for enrolment too. In 1998, he was admitted as an instructor in the Department of Architecture of Tarlac State University. A whole new path opened up for him, and that started his career in education.
While pursuing his primary career in architecture, he felt the need to pursue another professional license – in Master Plumbing. And so he took the board exams in February 1993 and, fortunately was one of the topnotchers. Out of the many students who took the exam, only seven passed and Architect Bildan was one of them.
It was all more or less smooth sailing, until he hit a roadblock in October of 1993. He’d begun to feel a little bored and dried out in the academe. He was exhausted. He had nothing new left to share with his students, and it left him with a dissatisfaction that was hard to ignore. He needed to be educated once again. To broaden his horizons, to learn, to fly high and soar once again. He went abroad for five years, working for KSA Group Architecture where he worked as a plumbing designer. Then in July of the following year, he transferred to Thailand, working on joint ventures, building expressways, and segmental bridges. He also worked on an elevated transit system in Bangkok with 20 stations. He was greatly exposed to the art of designing and building bridges. It proved to be quite a learning experience, which enabled him to grow more in his field. It changed him from the inside out, renewing his attitude towards life and changing his view on the work field.
After his adventures on foreign land and upon coming back home to the Philippines in 1999, he took up again a teaching profession in Tarlac State University where he was promptly accepted. After six months, he was prestigiously appointed Dean of the College of Architecture and Fine Arts.
Since then, he has seen the field of architecture in the Philippines expand and grow. He has seen how it has evolved because of the high-rise skyscraper buildings that were starting to pop up one after the other. Naturally, competition exists between these, and it entails new trends of building designs and construction systems. New environmentally-friendly plumbing materials have been developed such as waterless sanitary wares, water appliances with motion sensors for flushing, etc. According to him, we are a signatory of ASEAN integration, and that we should be quite well versed and competitive now in terms of design and installation of plumbing works. Despite the many advances, however, Architect Bildan still thinks that architects face many obstacles in a third world country like ours, the chief one being that most people under appreciate the architectural profession. Some clients do not know the value of design.
In spite of all these challenges, there are still many fulfilling things about the profession. For Architect Bildan, one of these is seeing his students pass the licensure exams in Architecture and Master Plumbing, and eventually seeing them gain success in their fields. A few tips he has for these students of his, as well as other people aspiring to be in the same career field, are to be positive and to have the right attitude towards everything, to have integrity and always be honest.
He says that it pays to learn from others, from more experienced architects and seasoned master plumbers, and to join organizations that will help them grow. Take every opportunity to grow and learn. Because for Architect Bildan, there will always be new horizons to pursue. “As long as new technology, new discoveries, new inventions in buildings & utilities are present, my professional advancement in architecture and plumbing must follow.” (Bildan, 2017) – (by MIKAYLA DE GUZMAN / Photos courtesy: Arch. Marc Bildan)