"Culture comes from the Latin term cultura that has its origin from colere. It generally refers to patterns of human activities and the symbolic structures that give such activities significance and importance."
That was what Dean Inocencio, our professor in Theory of Architecture 3, said as he make his introduction to our topic about culture as an essential factor in architectural design. He was in his casual calm tone when he called a student out of the blue, asking how much that student knew about himself as a social component of a bigger society, and more importantly as a human. The student was dumbstrucked at the sudden question. And so was I, trying my best to hide from the back of my seatmate who was thinking also of what to answer.
"In understanding your culture, you have to understand yourself,"
he went as I mused on how much I really knew of myself and on how much I knew of my culture. He asked us to make a short anecdote of our culture in the hometown or place where we grew up and how it affects us as a human, which can later be a source of idea in our design philosophy and belief about the logical behaviour of life, people, and the environment. Below was my anecdote submitted at the end of our class:
"Growing up in the urban setting and lifestyle of Quezon City, I find myself literally confused about my identity as a person with all the diverse showcase and influences from different pop culture movements and modern philosophies abundantly viewed among the youth. But despite the seemingly selfish perception of what most consider as today's "me-generation", evidently seen on the growing number of teen reality TV shows, young consumers, vanity publishers (read: young bloggers obsessed about documenting their adolescent years), and techno-geeks, I found my identity and purpose in the "green" culture of nature-lovers and climate-activists who are investing their time and money to raise the awareness of the public regarding the current state of the environment because of global warming.
The Philippines, according to studies, being a climate "hot spot" is enough to give me a jerk to contribute something on the green movement to counter the effects of climate-crisis, and eventually to dream or aspire to be a "green architect" that focuses primarily on using sustainable building materials and as well as on making efficient designs that actually cultivates natural resources.
And as with the widespread sight of poverty among the slum and depressed areas of the metro, evident on the lack of decent living spaces and homeless families residing in streets, I also found my purpose in the culture of volunteerism - that is, a great desire on involving myself in organizations such as Habitat for Humanity or Gawad Kalinga to build houses and communities for the poor."