Manila 14th March 2012
After quite a number of years I am back again in the Philippines. It’s been quite a while, but on the back of the WorldBex 2012 exhibition and conference, for which I have been invited as at guest speaker, I will make sure to take some time out to revisit some old friends and business clients. The nice thing about travelling is that you get exposed to different cultures, different ways of life, different climates, which all reflects in the country’s architectural building expressions, its urban infra-structure, transportation and so on. As a lighting designer these are important cues as we design our lighting for people and people live in different social/ cultural environments, different climates and have therefore different habits, needs and preferences. Without having been there how will you understand? I pride myself therefore lucky having travelled the world the way I have as it has given me so much understanding of the different cultures and ways of life. The “culture shock” book series (I was given one as compulsory reading as part of my training when I was sent out as an expatriate to Singapore by Philips in 1988), is great reading if you have never been to a part of the world that has such different culture then you have grown up with in your home country.
When it comes to lighting, what we take away from being actually “on location” is what the local standards are in regards to lighting installations, the quality of light fittings locally available and most of all how the lighting market locally ticks. By simply driving around as I did tonight, you get a feel of how advanced (or not) the lighting market is. How many buildings are lit (LED!), the quality of the road lighting installations.
Why is this knowledge important? Because it helps you to relate your designs to local industry standards, local taste, local needs and most of all local availability and budgets. Yes we are hired to innovate, bring something new to the table, improve quality standards, but without a local reference frame it is hard to position your design…Mabuhay (“welcome” in Tagalog)!
Light Watch 3-36: My very first project in Manila (with Philips in the late 80-ties) was the lighting of the Quezon Memorial. At the time executed with conventional gas discharge lighting. A search on Google resulted in some pictures with coloured lighting, so I have to assume that the lighting was re-done at some point of time. Also a satellite picture of Manila and a close up of the Quezon Memorial Circle from the sky.