How Architect Gelo Mañosa Upheld His Father's Legacy

The CEO of Mañosa & Co. talks about managing his firm, green design, and what's on his bucket list.

Your father Bobby Mañosa is a legendary Philippine architect. Several years ago, you took over as CEO of the firm he started. How intimidating was that?
My father's shadow is a big one to be under. In 2001, I started my own practice to make a name for myself: A. Mañosa+Architects. I still continue my personal practice but balance this with the much bigger family firm. Of course there are a lot more challenges running a bigger organization, but we always have fun with what we do best, hence, I never found it difficult.

What are the best lessons you’ve learned from?
Philippine Architecture for the Filipino. You are only as good as your reputation. Always have fun with our clients. Never compromise design for profit. Our family name is our greatest asset. Always take care of it.

How does your style differ from your father’s?
My style has been very much influenced by his practice as I have matured in architecture through his eyes. The big difference would be my push for “green” architecture and merging new ideas with new technologies while still being sensitive to our local culture. I do it in three simple ways: First, through my everyday living and lifestyle; second, through my practice in architecture; and third, through the Philippine Green Building Council (PHILGBC).

You’re working with your siblings Dino and Bambi as well. What’s that like?
Working with siblings is always fun. We are actually a very close-knit family which makes it easier to express our ideas, sentiments, and to challenge one another for the best design solutions.


How do you separate work time from family time?
I usually make it clear to my clients when I first meet them that I don’t work on weekends and holidays. These are reserved for my family. Only on very rare cases (site emergencies, clients time, deadlines, etc.) do I work on weekends. I also make it a point not to bring any work home—this keeps the separation in check, and almost all my clients understand the importance. On some occasions, I get to bring my family to an island or a resort due to work. Hence, I get to hit two birds with one stone—and that’s always a nice bonus.

With wife, Katrina, and children, Andrea and Santiago, in Subic

How did your love story with your wife Katrina develop?
We started out as childhood friends, then as we grew up she started to get really aggressive with me and I had no choice but to say “yes.” 

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Do you see your children Andrea and Santiago following in you and your dad’s footsteps as Mañosa architects?
My little Andi has very strong “right brain” qualities. I believe that if she doesn’t become an architect she will definitely be in the arts. With my son Santiago it is still too early to tell, but I do hope one of them continue the practice.

How do you bond with them?
I love playing with them. We take trips out of town. We also go a lot to the polo field and just kick a ball or fly a kite. I also take my daughter out on “father-daughter dates” at least once a month or whenever I can.

How do you unwind?
I love watching old movies, running, diving (when I can), and a rum coke always does the trick.

Biggest guilty pleasure?

Pet peeves?
People that say “can do” but can’t.

What’s the one thing you wish most people would do more often?
I wish people would “articulate” design before saying “yes.”

Gelo in a Paul Smith blazer and striped shirt

Favorite drink?
Rum coke, made with Tanduay rum, five years old.

What gets you excited the most?
With work, seeing my client's face when we present. With family, seeing my kids' faces when I bring home a surprise.

Complete this sentence: I like my job but I’d rather be…
On the beach drinking rum coke with my wife by my side!

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Jacs T. Sampayan
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