JUDGING from his enthusiasm in talking about his profession, 18 years are like mere days ago for this architect, who is gearing himself for another shot at glory.

Cebuano architect Jensen Racho’s zeal for his profession is still as fresh and contagious as the one he had when he finished his undergraduate studies in architecture at the University of San Carlos (USC) back in 1998 with flying colors.

The cum laude honor was bestowed upon him along with his college diploma. Just less than a year after that, he took the Professional Regulation Commission’s Licensure Examination for Architects in Manila and placed ninth.

This July, Jensen will be wearing the leader’s cap as he will assume his duties and responsibilities as the new district director of the United Architects of the Philippines Regional District C1 (UAP-RDC1). Just as a good architect should be, Jensen has already plans laid out clearly for his term as, in his own words, “big brother” to the architect-members based in Cebu, Bohol and Dumaguete.

He acknowledges the importance of the position as “generator of activities, programs and projects” in support of the organizational thrusts and encouraging active participation from the members. In his desire to make this year a busy yet enjoyable year, Jensen has crafted an acronym to sum up his vision during his term: “YOLO” (“You” as member participation, “O” for organizing professional development activities for the upcoming Asean integration, “L” for linkages with other agencies and organizations, and “O” for outreach programs).

Outreach activities are especially important for him since this is a good avenue where architects can establish rapport with the public and the government.

“(Architects) already have a good impression from the public, but we still have to exert more effort to involve ourselves in community service as an expert in the architecture profession. We should go out and serve,” he says. It can be remembered, though, during the calamities that struck the province two years ago, the architects got creative and went out to the affected towns and communities to help provide emergency shelters, among others. However, they need not wait for another disaster to become relevant since architects are supposed to be vital in not just providing shelters but also in designing buildings that are beautiful, stable and efficient in function.

“Architecture is not simply buildings, but it is the soul of our culture and the expression of our values. The architect is an expert in spatial planning and designing buildings that become part of our environment.

Many people lack the sensitivity toward giving value to our environment. It is the duty of the architect to educate people about it through his work,” adds Jensen, who is also a college instructor at USC apart from being a managing architect of his firm, Racho Architects.

The architects have long been engaged in an advocacy against the illegal practice of their profession. Just recently, bills in the Senate and the House of Representatives have been crafted to fully support the Architecture Act of 2004, which remains wanting of full implementation nationwide, making Jensen’s role and other leaders of the UAP truly vital.

With that aside, Jensen looks forward to his “big brother” duties especially in getting other architects into the same boat for professional development and community service (Jensen and the new district and chapter leaders of UAP RD-C1 will be inducted a few weeks from now). But more than that, the incoming district director is eager to make architects act as “big brothers” in society, to become design professionals whom each person, family or sector in the cities and towns can rely upon when it comes to satisfying the need for a built environment that truly embraces the needs of its users.  (Contributed Fotos)