Retrospective 2012

Wow. It’s been nearly 2 years since my last meaningful post. It’s also the perfect time to do the end-of-the-year retrospective.

All mistakes I have made considered, I realized 3 things about myself:

  1. Advancement in career and money/spending power are what drive me.
  2. BUT I don’t want to take the boards. Yet. Any time soon. I don’t feel learned nor mature enough to deserve the license.
  3. Permanent and binding commitments to people scare me. I am willing to hurt myself to be my own master.

A Year in Review: Trends of 2011

Excerpted REPOST from

(Image source:

In January of each year, CTBUH publishes a review of tall building construction and statistics from the previous year. The annual story is becoming a familiar one: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and now 2011 have each sequentially broke the record for the most 200 meter or higher buildings completed in a given year. Once again, more 200 m+ buildings were completed in 2011 than in any year previous, with a total of 88 projects opening their doors (for an overview of all 200 m+ buildings, see the “Tall Buildings in Numbers” study). Shenzhen’s Kingkey 100, at 442 meters, tops the 2011 list.

Looking to the future, it is now foreseeable – indeed likely – that the recent trend of an annual increase in building completions will continue for the next several years, perhaps even through the end of the decade. This represents a change in recent predictions. It had been expected that skyscraper completions would drop off very sharply after 2011, as a result of the 2008 global financial crisis and the large number of projects put on hold. Now however, due in large part to the continuing high activity of skyscraper design and construction in China, as well as the development of several relatively new markets, this global dip is no longer expected. The effect this will have on the skylines of the world will be tremendous (see “The Tallest 20 in 2020” article for more on the future of the skyscraper).

Continuing Shifts
The buildings completed in 2011 have effected a significant change in the world’s tallest 100 buildings, with 17 new buildings added to the list. This change continues the trends of recent years (see Figures 2–5).  Perhaps most significantly, for the first time in history the number of office buildings in the tallest 100 has diminished to the 50% mark, as mixed-use buildings continue to increase, jumping from 23 to 31. As recently as the year 2000, 85% of the world’s tallest were office buildings – meaning that a 35% change has occurred in just over a decade. In terms of location, Asia, now with 46 of the 100, continues to edge toward containing half of the world’s tallest buildings. The Middle East region saw an increase of three, while Europe diminished to only one building in the tallest 100: Capital City Moscow Tower.


Full article by the Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat can be found here.

Dear graduates, the real world is fake

By Leloy Claudio  The Philippine Star Updated March 02, 2012 12:00 AM

(direct link)

MANILA, Philippines – I said goodbye to my graduating students today. The farewell was visceral. Five year ago, I was in their shoes, excited about starting a career while anxious about leaving behind the comforts of university: 15 units, org time, college romance, perennial grade consciousness, blockmates, etc.

Graduation, as the cliché goes, is when you begin the hard transition into “the real world” — a concept I never really understood. In my mind, only MTV has defined this world adequately, fleshing it out in all its trashy grandiosity for 26 seasons. In that case, reality was actually fake, revealing the inherent flimsiness of the concept.

The idea of a post-graduation real world is offensive to academics. If the real world lies outside university halls, what do teachers do? Play? Act? Dissimulate?

The life of the mind may at times be solitary, and it may lead to bouts of depression, but it’s as real, if not more real, than Taylorized work. And when lived to the fullest, this life may even alter reality.

Common-sense reality refers to a specific lifestyle, rendered normal by a society that prices everything. The real world, especially for the upwardly mobile/wealthily immobile Atenistas I teach, is a nine-to-five job in a big corporation. This is a valid reality, and, though leftist, I am not crass enough to issue a blanket condemnation of this choice. But we should not conflate the choice of a moneymaking lifestyle with reality. For a lifestyle choice is precisely that: a choice, an option within an array of plural realities, each one of them wellsprings of lived complexity.

Marx — a false prophet of global redemption but a trenchant analyst of events — argued that work under capitalism is alienating. No matter how much your boss tells you to feel ownership for your brand, you will probably never own “your” brand, let alone the company. Moreover, seeking the bottom line every day of the week constitutes a kind of tunnel vision where profit precedes creativity and love. This is not to trivialize the need for material stability, only to point out that conventional notions of reality can be as fleeting as university life.

My heroes in academia have all experienced realities that demand real responses. Patricio “Jojo” Abinales continues to confront death in Muslim Mindanao — a place subjected to systematic violence by the Philippine government. Walden Bello rendered real the rapaciousness of the Marcos regime when he obtained classified documents from the World Bank. My mother Sylvia Estrada-Claudio comes home depressed because of what she witnesses as a feminist researcher: systematic rape, domestic violence, state denial of reproductive rights. All three are fiercely independent critics who tear down conventional wisdom better than moralizing op-ed rock stars on popular broadsheets. But, more importantly, they are real.

Two years ago, I began conducting doctoral research in Hacienda Luisita. I befriended farmers feeding families with wages of P200 a day. Others had witnessed the horror of the Hacienda Luisita massacre. I shared their grief. When I wept after my first visit, I felt closer to other socially engaged academics. To me, scholarship, when done right, involves sharing experiences like these to students.

The liberal arts university provides students opportunities to dream big and to pose grand questions. Unfortunately, the scale of a liberal arts education reinforces the notion that teachers place their students’ heads in the clouds. I hope I am guilty of this accusation.

If I got my students to think about a life outside their careers, if I was able to show them a different world and introduce them to people, places and ideas they would not have encountered otherwise, I would have achieved my goal as an educator. I’ve never wanted to force a reality on my students; I just wanted to show them differing ones: there are start-up companies, but there are also labor unions; there are flyovers that take people to work, but there also are poor people who sleep under them; there are women heroes who break the corporate glass ceiling, but there are also those who serve as volunteers in community health centers.

Dreaming can be real when you dream in solidarity with others, especially those who suffer.

I know that, after graduation, many of my students will be caught in their individual realities, and the world of my classroom will likely recede into fantasy. But I hope some of them visit me as I grow up and grow old in my cubicle. When they do, maybe we can dream together anew.

Leloy Claudio obtained a PhD in history from the University of Melbourne. He teaches political science at Ateneo de Manila. 

The (Career) Story So Far

The Bible of catalogues for museum design. The drawing on yellow tracing is just an option I contributed to a pool of design schemes for a facade in the province.

I have been working for five months already.  I started working in my classmate’s mother’s firm not too long after my application stint with ASYA. The  factors in my decision making were

  1. Transportation / Location – The firm’s located in Pasong Tamo, a very convenient location.  It’s a 15 minute speed-walk and a jeep ride to Greenbelt, where I get picked up by my parents. Or two jeep rides if I’m lazy.
  2. Size of the firm – Small enough so that I don’t end up as another cog in the system.  Small enough so I get to see a project from conceptualization to construction.
  3. Work hours – NO WORK ON SATURDAYS!
  4. My boss’ program – My boss said that it was her personal goal to teach her apprentices how to start up and run a firm properly.  She said she had a hard time setting up her own firm and wished to impart the knowledge that she learned during this period so that her apprentices don’t repeat these mistakes.

To date,  I am part of a team working on a museum which will be located in a new high-rise building in Rockwell.  The team is basically involved with the space planning of the exhibit areas and the conservation center–which I find more interesting.  In addition, there are the sub-jobs of space planning: coordinating with the team designing the building and the Museum group, product research, and more research.  I knew early on that I lacked training to be a professional 3D renderer; so I am fortunate that I landed a space planning project instead.  The output is much harder to produce, not as pretty as making presentation drawings on 3Ds Max, but just as fulfilling.

My desk during a 10 minute break

The novelty of finally generating my own spending capacity that exceeds what I had with my college allowance has long worn off.  Interestingly, it made me more stingy.  I have no complaints about my current set-up.  Maybe, save for one: College life allowed me more impulsive moments.

The 3.5 Year Bucket List

1.   A new gadget

I think it’s high time I got a decent smartphone.  I was aspiring for a Blackberry at first but I realized I prioritized a large screen over anything else.  My most ambitious choice would be the Samsung Galaxy S II.


2.   Learn the basics of Parkour

I almost accomplished this one.  I was supposed to attend a basic workshop this coming October with my two siblings.  But the training schedule would not permit us to do so.  In addition, my parents suggested that one of my siblings get physically fit first before the three of us could train together.

My wanting to learn this for AGES is probably an offshoot of my climbing over objects and on trees as a child.


3.   Diversify my sources of income

I don’t want to rely purely on direct income.  Interesting enough, I thought I’d spend my very first paycheck on material wants.  But after looking at the the check, I suddenly got stingy.  At my level, the most that I could do is open a time deposit account.


4.   Pass the Architecture Board Exam


5.   Become a proficient marksman

This is Guo Wenjun, an Olympic shooter from Beijing.  I don’t want to reach that level but I want to be able to defend myself should there be a zombie apocalypse.  Haha!

Because Technophobes Need All the Help They Can Get

When I was offered a new phone after my old one was pick-pocketed, I settled for a Nokia C5 I wanted to keep things simple.  I thought the only essential functions I needed for a phone were the calling, texting, rudimentary camera and alarm clock functions.  Never mind WiFi capability.  I figured that I was already glued to the computer long enough not to consider a WiFi capable celphone a necessity.

Back then, in college, it was easier to share and interact with people that I saw on a near-daily basis.  The other avenues where I could share to a wider audience were this blog, my Flickr page and Facebook.  At the university, I shared my work with my peers and professors by printing out hard copies and exhibiting them.


Now I bet you are wondering why anyone would settle for a low-end smartphone. Reader, you probably guessed right.  I am a self-confessed technophobe.


While most of my friends had already upgraded to phone/laptop software organizers to plan ahead, I was still stuck in the 19th century using good old-fashioned paper.


I survived college with a “system” of Post-It notes on my door and two Starbucks planners in which I used both during the toughest school year–THESIS YEAR.

I also had friends who I constantly–an UNDERSTATEMENT–asked to remind me about impending deadlines.

What I failed to consider was that a simple phone model does not necessarily equate to an efficient method of sharing oneself with the world.   My trusty Nokia has served me well in college and even until now.  However, I am about to enter the workforce in a few weeks time.  As an architect-apprentice, I need a mobile device that will allow me to send more data, especially pictures and videos, to more contacts.  (The 5 MP camera of the Blackberry Bold 9780 is perfect for the job.)

my DSLR → copy/paste to LAPTOP → attach to EMAIL  → send to FRIEND

my DSLR → copy/paste to LAPTOP → upload to IMAGESHACK  → send to BLOG

—-Imagine how much waiting time I could reduce if I did everything with the Blackberry!—-

photo from BLACKBERRY → connect to WiFi → send to CLIENT

I could have tweeted a photo of my first breakfast in France.  The cafe had free WiFi, but my phone couldn’t connect!  :(


The solution to a technophobe’s woes: The BlackBerry Bold 9780.  With it I could gain convenient, meaningful, substantial communication with the people who matter.


I have got to hand it to BlackBerry Messenger for including nifty indicators that tell whether your message has been read or not.  That means no more excuses for messages getting “swallowed up” by the network.


BlackBerry Groups would allow me to set up forums with other BlackBerry Messenger contacts.  It’s very much like carrying a message board wherever I go.  I can share pictures, calendars, task lists, and voice notes without the inconvenience of carrying a laptop to view them all.

I could get things done so much faster with the help of BlackBerry Messenger.  No need to bring around a heavy laptop and worry about Internet connection!  If there is one thing I never did enjoy with my current gadget set-up is that I have to relegate all group discussions to a chat program like Yahoo Messenger or Skype.  Why? It’s because my phone doesn’t have BlackBerry’s Group features.  With BlackBerry Messenger,   it will be very convenient for me to be able to communicate with friends and future clients alike while on the go.

Now that’s simplifying life, having less gadgets to carry!

Look at my contacts lists for Yahoo Messenger and Skype.  They’re practically empty!  No one stays at home on Friday and Saturday nights.  So what is the point of sticking to the static laptop cum DSL connection to communicate with people when they’re not online?



I’m still stuck in the Stone Age of smart phones and Internet mail. :(

It’s high time that I’ve graduated to a Blackberry Bold 9780.  I am a technophobe and I badly need to be cured!

[This is an entry for the WIN a Brand New BlackBerry Bold 9780! from  Thank you to Research In Motion and Virtusio Public Relations for making this contest possible!]


I had to return to a prospective employer for my fourth and final interview with the Big Boss.  I was asked the night before to bring more of my sample works/portfolio.  Since I never had any time to compile any of works into a formatted portfolio.  I brought my thesis boards instead.

Me :: I would like to present my thesis, which is a Technical Vocational School–

Boss :: *Motions for me to stop, turns to his assistant (1 of 4 assistants in the room)* Tawagan mo nga yung expert natin na pumunta dito sa conference room. Si… si… yung galing UK.  (Call our expert to come down to the conference room. The one from the UK.)

Assistant # 1 :: *rushes out of conference room*

Assistant # 2 :: *rushes out of conference room, makes a phone call at the reception*

Assistant # 1 :: *comes back in* Sir, nagbreak po siya. (Sir, he’s on break.)

Boss :: *pause* Sige. *Turns back and motions for me to continue*

Me :: *inward sigh of relief*

That rattled me for a moment.  Anyway, HR emailed me later that night the job offer to join the firm.  I decided not to accept since commuting there would also be especially difficult.  Maybe I would eventually adapt to a hard routine.  I can’t help but wonder how it would be like to work for the Boss.  Personally, I was impressed when I saw the office set-up.  The operations–well, at least those visible to me that time–were running like a well-oiled machine.

Paris, La Ville-Lumière (3/3)

Je t’adore big guns and Chanel…

We gave up trying to go up to the Eiffel Tower.  The lines were too long.

(Photocredit: Dad)

And we were also unfortunate enough to Versailles on a holiday.  It was Ascension Thursday.  Every nation and the French decided to spend the day there.

(Photocredit: Dad)

(Photocredit: Dad)

For all its grandiosity and pretentious pomp, the architect left out one essential room in Versailles–BATHROOMS.  According to our tour guide, Versailles’ inhabitants just came and relieved their bladders wherever they pleased.  It slightly tarnished my first impressions of the Palace.  It is a work of art, really.  One just has to overlook its unhygenic provisions.  Hmmm….

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Paris, La Ville-Lumière (2/3)

Sunday in Paris. Still Asian and still lost…

This is how the city looks from Notre Dame’s towers.  I believe this is the city where I have climbed more than 4 high points just to see top views in all angles.

We were nearly late for the Sunday service because we got lost.  Some of the streets have their signs hung on the corners in tiny signs.  In addition, there was the language barrier.  We couldn’t ask anyone to give us detailed directions to the cathedral.  Fortunately, we made it in time and got relatively good seats.

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Paris, La Ville-Lumière (1/3)

Asian lost in Paris…

It would be redundant, borderline ridiculous to say that Paris is a beautiful city.  It’d take around a five minute walk from our hotel to see this at 10:30 PM, just a little after sunset.  After nearly a week’s stay in London, I still got disoriented because of the time difference.  In my “world” the sun sets at 6:00 PM.  Anyway…

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