Philippine National Artist ancestral home explored by student-artist

Published January 26, 2022, 1:00 PM

by Manila Bulletin

The legacy of Philippine National Artist for Architecture Pablo S. Antonio continues to be preserved by his descendants, led by great-grandson Joshua Barrera.

The young artist grew up being exposed to coloring, sketching, fashion, and travel, which enabled him to appreciate various arts and cultures, heritages, and landscapes. “This aspect of my childhood further fueled my creativity and constant excitement to immerse myself in new environments,” he shared.

Thus, for his collegiate thesis, he opted to scan and scrutinize the home of his great-grandfather, the Pablo S. Antonio Residence in Pasay City.

“My interest in architectural heritage in particular was not only because of my great-grandfather’s built legacies, but also due to my love to visit and learn about them. For example, Casa Gorordo in Cebu and the Syquia Mansion in Vigan are two of my favorite heritage houses in the country. Their digital marketing through websites sparked my thesis project, where I could apply this promotional and curatorial strategy to uplift a home dear to me and my family,” explained Joshua.

The thesis, entitled Pablo S. Antonio’s House of Dreamers, is a curatorial study on the significance, narratives, and aesthetic features of his great-grandfather’s home. “I began collecting photographs and dwelling on archives, as well as well-kept stories through a series of interviews with family members and heritage professionals to better understand the importance of this home in relation to Philippine architecture and modern living,” he said.

ANCESTRAL HOME Pablo Antonio’s living room with pond

These stories have not been discussed or mentioned to a broader Filipino audience, according to Joshua. “One insight revealed to me how the home inspired the designs of the exclusive Manila Polo Club and the very first houses in Forbes Park, which Pablo S. Antonio likewise designed,” he said.

One insight revealed to me how the home inspired the designs of the exclusive Manila Polo Club and the very first houses in Forbes Park, which Pablo S. Antonio likewise designed.

Today, Joshua is the curator of the said property. “Curating a heritage house is neither limited to the arrangement of furniture and collections, nor a designed pathway for visitors to be toured around. It is all about creating an experience—the chance to fully experience a Pablo S. Antonio design and his architectural vision for ‘modern living in the tropics.’”

In addition to his responsibilities, he finds time for his own art pieces, specifically in pointillism, with motifs inspired by Philippine ethnic patterns.

ART-CHITECT Vibrant Art Studios PH Exhibit

Innerbloom, a piece he created in August 2021 amid the pandemic, which reflected his state of mind and personal growth, garnered third place at an international competition hosted by sterling art marker brand Copic in Tokyo, Japan. “This marked a triumphant moment not only in 2021, but in my life,” Joshua said.

Together with best friend Nigel Villaceran, he likewise launched Vibrant Art Studios PH, a collective of young artists who wish to uplift emerging talents while they advocate for the preservation of architectural heritage.

“We call ourselves Vibrant to celebrate diversity in the Filipino youth. There is a lot to offer in Philippine art,” Joshua ended.