Prior to American colonization, the architectural profession was essentially embodied by the maestro de obras (literally translated as “master builder”). There was no actual title of “architect.” Instead, the maestro de obras was responsible for the construction and supervision over the erection of public and private structures.
The nearest form of architectural education during the Spanish period was the Escuela Practica y Profesional de Artes y Oficios de Manila, which was established by the Spanish government in 1890. Among the first graduates of this school were Arcadio Arellano, Juan Carreon, Julio Hernandez, and Isidro Medina.
Later, private schools, such as the Liceo de Manila, were established in 1900, granting the academic title of maestro de obras. Francisco Agraran, Carlos Diaz, Antonio Goguico, Angel Tampinco, and Zoilo Villanueva were among the first graduates of the Liceo.
The Liceo, together with the Academia de Arquitectura y Agrimensura de Filipinas, the first professional organization of architects, engineers, and surveyors, founded in 1902, offered a four-year course in civil engineering and architecture in 1904.
Beginning in 1903, the Insular government had launched a scholarship program that allowed Filipino students to pursue university education in the United States known as the pensionado program.
The first recipient of the (pensionado program) scholarship for architecture was Carlos A. Barretto, who received academic training at the Drexel Institute of Philadelphia.
Antonio Toledo stood out as the youngest pensionado when he was sent to the United States to study architecture at the age of sixteen. He was one of the pioneer professors of Mapua Institute of Technology founded by his fellow pensionado Tomas Mapua and taught there until 1967. He designed the National Museum of the Philippines, Leyte Provincial Capitol, Manila City Hall, Cebu Provincial Capitol, Bureau of Customs, Department of Tourism & Finance Buildings.
Tomas Mapua holds the distinction of being the first registered Architect of the Philippines. He was a known civic leader in Manila. He once became a councilor of Manila. He founded the Mapua Institute of Technology. Buildings Librada Avelino Hall, Centro Escolar University J. Mapua Memorial Hall, Mapua Institute of Technology Pier 7.
Juan M. Arellano, was a Filipino architect, best known for Manila's Metropolitan Theater (1935), Legislative Building (1926), now houses the National Museum of the Philippines), the Manila Central Post Office Building (1926), the Cebu Provincial Capitol (1937), the Bank of the Philippine Islands Cebu Main Branch (1940), and the Jones Bridge. Other Buildings were the Manila Central Post Office, Manila Metropolitan Theater, National Museum of the Philippines, Jaro Municipal Building Center for West Visayan Studies and Museum, UP Visayas Cebu Provincial Capitol, Jones Bridge, Malcolm Hall, University of the Philippines, Diliman.
These pensionados, together with the maestro de obras Arcadio Arellano and Tomas Arguelles, formed the first generation of Filipino architects. All six had individual distinctions to claim. Arcadio Arellano was the first Filipino to be employed by the Americans as one of their architectural advisors. Carlos Barreto was the first Filipino architect with an academic degree from abroad, the Drexel Institute in Philadelphia, from which he graduated in 1907. He became one of the pioneering staff of the Division of Architecture. Tomas Arguelles was known as a public administrator who advocated the enforcement of the Building Code of Manila. Antonio Toledo was a master of the Neoclassic style and was among the first architect educators.
In 1930, the University of Santo Tomas (UST) established its School of Architecture and Fine Arts. Soon after, Adamson University opened its architecture program in 1941. That same year, the Philippine College of Design was founded and it recruited the luminaries of the design profession in the Philippines as its Faculty. Other schools of architecture outside Manila would also institute architecture courses after World War II, such as the Cebu Institute of Technology (1946) and Mindanao Colleges (1953).
The curriculum for the Bachelor of Science in Architecture at the University of Santo Tomas and the Mapua Institute of Technology reflected this French school lineage through the emphasis on rendered drawings and perspectives, highly symmetrical planning and massing, and Classical Revival preferences in details and motifs.
From 1930 to 1966 the Program of Architecture was4 years . In 1967 a new 5 year program was introduced with a total of 210 units. The first graduates of this 5 year program was in 1972.