Philippine Daily Inquirer
by Chelo Banal-Formoso

architecture and interiors by Melinda P. Laudico

For architect Popi Laudico, building a resort---an extended home---means bringing everything that you are into the effort. That’s why she keeps her own life multi-faceted

WHEN you realize that she loves to scuba-dive, spends her free weekends in a gorgeous Mindoro house with a drop-dead view of the ocean that she built herself, and is quite comfortable visiting job sites in her bikini, you no longer wonder why architect Popi Laudico is fast becoming known as a builder of resorts. Not just any resort, but delightful ones, built with durable Filipino materials, huge windows, airy spaces and natural light.

“Last year I gave a talk to the graduating batch of architecture students at the University of the Philippines (UP),” says Laudico, “and the best advice I could give them was, ‘Don’t work all the time.’ The architectural profession is a personal service. You need to cultivate yourself, the person doing the service, in order to have a thriving practice. Basically I think I am able to design resorts and vacation homes because they’re so much a part of my life. I’m credible when it comes to making it real for other people. I’m just lucky, I guess.”

Lucky indeed, but just because Laudico’s working amidst the sun and sand of Boracay, as she was most of the time when she designed the venerable Friday’s resort, doesn’t mean she’s not taking the business of leisure seriously.

“ The factors in resort design would be similar to that of house design, only magnified a hundred times, since it’s a lodging for guests who would consider it their ‘home’ for a few days,” she explains. “You need to consider safety, comfort and a certain level of luxury that the guests may not normally provide for themselves in their own homes.”




Popi’s handiwork:
Beach Front rooms in Miniloc Island, El Nido Resorts








Popi with Una










A popi-designed house in Mindoro









Laudico recently finished a house in Terrazas de Punta Fuego, but the 36-year-old’s expertise doesn’t end there. She also designed the high-end restaurant of her brother Rolando Laudico, Chef Laudico Bistro Filipino, at the Fort, along with another restaurant in Salcedo village called Apartment 1B. Then there’s a spa in Shanghai, a wine bar in Legaspi Village---who knows what’s next?

Design was part of Laudico’s life growing up, as her mother, designer Yolanda Johnson, was an art scene fixture. Prodigious at drawing as a child, she enrolled in Architecture at the UP, and followed that up with a stint in Los Angeles in 1992. Today, she also does designs for the family business, Soumak Collections, a home accessories hub and a favorite source for some of the city’s finest bath linens and beddings.

Like many designers, Laudico can’t pinpoint the moment when she decides upon what to build for her client. “After all the factors come in---site inspection, client’s input, developer guidelines, etc.---inspiration needs to kick in. I really don’t know how it happens, but the visuals start coming in and it’s like I’m imagining the building like it already exists. I just go back to the details to work out the kinks. I once read that Mozart could hear the whole concerto in his head before he even hit a key. It’s sort of like that. Kapal ba? (Am I being presumptuous?)” says Laudico with a loud, infectious laugh.

Neither does Laudico identify a particular style that characterizes her oeuvre. “None of my projects really look alike,” she recounts. “But once, a client told me that someone went into a house that we built, and asked them if their architect did this other house, which I also built. My client asked the person if the two houses looked the same. The answer was, ‘No, they don’t look the same, but they feel the same.’ So I guess I don’t have a particular ‘style,’ but a particular ‘feel’ that people pick up. Maybe it has to do with light and air. There’s a lot of passive lighting and passive cooling in my designs.”

“Feel” is paramount to Laudico, who takes very seriously the idea of being well-rounded. In her favorite working clothes of jeans and T-shirts, the ultra-petite Laudico is often mistaken for a high school kid---not a problem at all, she reveals. “It’s the best advantage in the world!” she exclaims. “Nobody can ever say no to a little girl!” When she’s not driving her big SUV to sites or working on projects, Laudico scuba-dives, does pottery, teaches at the Iyengar Yoga Center Manila, and spends time with the love of her life, a black Labrador named Una (who’s 3 years old today).

Which brings us to Laudico’s dream projects: “not so much exercises in architectural design, but structures and facilities that would make the world a better place. That’s the ultimate responsibility of all architects.”

Top of that list is a spectacular, comprehensive Dog Park, “where Una and his friends can gallivant off-leash, safe and completely in their element.” The park would include a space for the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), of which Laudico is a staunch supporter. There will also be an Olympic-sized pool for therapy and play for dogs as well as special kids. “I want kids to have a place to go to learn to love animals.” That much you can say about Popi Laudico: If it feels good, she’s going to build it.