Architect-writer Karl Aries Emerson F. Cabilao shows us his perspective on a board topnotcher in the same field as he is.
It’s almost a common refrain when board topnotchers are asked about how they felt when they knew about their momentary drift to “Cloud 9”. They would often recall those junctures they are completely caught off-guard, although with a wide grin on their faces, upon seeing their names not just in the list of passers but on the upper echelon of such list.
Well, that’s not the complete scenario for 24-year-old Jason Anthony Chua, who placed 5th in the June 2012 Licensure Examination for Architects (LEA) held in Manila. A graduate of the University of San Carlos (USC), Jason continued his alma mater’s admirable streak of topnotchers which includes two consecutive 1st placers in the June 2011 and January 2012 LEA’s. While the others considered their placement as “unexpected”, Jason was secretly aiming for a spot in the top ten.
“I felt that I had done more than enough to pass the exam. Topping it was an entirely different story, especially when I felt that there were so many candidates from our school alone that had the potential to excel,” he says.
Jason spent the fateful night, when the LEA results were released, with friends who were equally anxious on how they fared in the tests. For four hours, they were glued on the internet waiting. He recalls: “We were in the car at the time. I decided to check it for one last time, and boom, the results were out. I looked for my name and found out that that I had passed. We stopped the car, went outside and started jumping up and down. After that, we got back in the car and checked the website again for the list of top 10 examinees. Then I got a call from my friend who informed me that I had made it to the top 5! I literally almost leapt out of the car when I found out.”
Certifying one’s place in the roster of licensed architects in the country is indeed a great fulfillment for an aspirant to the profession who sincerely persevered through the five-year rigid academic training and the two-year diversified experience in actual practice. For Jason, passing the board exams was a “graduation ceremony”.
He motivated himself by constantly telling himself that he had just to hurdle one more exam and he’d finally reach his dream of being an architect.
Apart from that, the thought of being the first architect in the family was also a challenge for him. He shared that his parents constantly reminded him that if ever he gets his professional license, he would have to start his practice from scratch. “I wouldn’t have a firm to inherit, so I’d have to work extra hard to make a name for myself,” he said.
Surely, with this feat of his, Jason’s parents are mighty proud. In fact, they have already offered to send him on a trip to Europe as a “gift”. “We keep studying about all these great buildings around the world, it would be nice to actually see them,” he enthuses. For him, there was no better “gift” than this. Topping his itinerary list are of course architectural landmarks such as the Notre Dame Cathedral, Sagrada Familia, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and the new buildings constructed for the London Olympics.
While his topnotcher dreams were made in silence, he is very vocal about promoting his profession now that he has the esteemed PRC license under his belt. He pointed out the continuing public misconception about architecture as just mere “drawing drawing” as one of the most pressing problems today that his colleagues must do something on.
“People seem to give more respect to civil engineers. While I do think being able to crunch big numbers is an admirable skill to posses, to actually create something out of nothing is a completely more daunting task than most people realize. I think this is the reason why architects don’t have as much freedom as they’d like in creating their designs,” he shares.
As a solution, he plans to work with other architects in creating better awareness about the profession and show people through actual buildings and spaces “that we really know what we’re talking about”. He also sets his eyes on a thriving private practice but after a few years more of experience under an architectural firm.
He says that “good architecture has the ability to inspire, and it’s our job to inspire people to create a better environment and a better city.” For all these, give this young topnotch architect a high five.