In reaction to the documentary on Pre-Hispanic architecture in the Philippines, pre-Hispanic architecture includes various factors affecting its structure and arrangement such as the geographical location and topographical features of its location and religious affiliations. Where the early Filipinos resided and habituated, whether along the coastlines or on top of a hill, shaped the resources available for them to utilize as materials for their architecture such as narra, molave, yakal, ipil, nipa, and others found in their environment.
Apart from wood resources, they also utilized stones for sturdier house structure as a form of refuge and shield from hostile climate just like the Ivatans in Batanes whose stone-houses are made of limestone. Apparently, just like the Ivatans, other pre-Hispanic house structures also depended on the climate. The influence of religion in the pre-Hispanic architecture, animism being their religion before Spanish contact, is manifested in the decorative natural symbols displayed and carved in their houses to symbolize protection from evil spirits, reincarnation of deity, fertility, and more values practiced in their religion.
Early Filipinos practice simple home building with the use of wood, nipa and leaves, and bamboo. All these manifestations of pre-Hispanic architecture resulted from the peoples’ mere need to survive, be sheltered, respond and adapt to the environment they belong to. As decades and decades went by and this form of architecture has been immensely affected and influenced by colonization, I observed that the perception of living has also changed among the entire Filipinos today.
There are those who prefer a simple house, while there are those who desire ambitiously until they reach their sky-high limit. This perception emerged as a result of colonization’s cutthroat manifestation which is capitalism. And capitalism has been continuously producing various forms of competition to the people such as property ownership and social hierarchy to the next level. One effect of these forms of competition leads to homeless individuals and families who strive perseveringly in finding a home to live.
This phenomenon particularly and usually happens in the urban setting. They can hardly find a home because of insufficient financial resources. However, some of these homeless individuals, desperate as they are, search for a home in the middle of the busy metropolis by building a house through different scraps such as thrown tarpaulins as their roof, scrapped woods and iron from construction sites to complete an entire simple house residing in what we call the squatters’ area.
Most communities who live in the rural setting, on the other hand, still utilize the resources available in their environment in building a simple home. At some point, these people disregard competition among one another but are gravely affected by land exploitation done by huge capitalistic and religious institutions, which they struggle to fight for their land which has always been theirs. When before, living was communal and everybody got the chance to share what one had to others; today, even a home is difficult to find.
When before, building a shelter was as easy as standing a wood thatched with grass or palm leaves and surviving depended on the resources available around; today, even the resources have to be paid. Unfortunate as it seems but the psychology attached to the changing forms of architecture influenced by various outsiders have reached to the point of building the sky-scraping tower of competition, envy, and greed.