SPACE
Rogue|March - April 2018

In its four decades of Brutalist glory, National Artist Leandro V. Locsin’s magnum opus has played host not only to delegations and conventions, but also a fabled collection of art

Patricia Chong

THE PHILIPPINE INTERNATIONAL Convention Center (PICC) has the uncanny ability to make you feel like a microscopic speck in the universe. Looking up at the massive stone slabs of exposed concrete, so heavy they ought to have their own gravitational pull, it registers that in the eyes of many, this is architect Leandro V. Locsin’s magnum opus. In his hands, what should be a textbook case of Brutalism looks and feels impossible: sinewy curves and endless volumes float seemingly unsupported over the water in the reflecting pools outside. Here, there is lightness in a design language primed to communicate the weight of power.

“In Marcos’s time, the thrust for the Philippines was global acceptance,” explains Deputy General Manager Roberto Garcia. “That’s why he invited heads of state here. That’s why Imelda invited all the artists. They wanted to say, ‘Hoy! The Philippines has arrived!’”

The story goes, General Manager Renato Padilla tells us, that upon the International Monetary Fund inspection team’s request to see the venue for their presitigous annual meeting, Imelda Marcos took them to the Cultural Center of the Philippines. “Mrs. Marcos points to Manila Bay,” Padilla narrates, “and says, ‘That is where your convention center will be built.’” In a frankly ridiculous 23 months, the land was reclaimed from the water, and on it stood a colossal monolith owned by Bangko Sentral Pilipinas (BSP).

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