I was at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) to watch a show and also join a quick tour of this iconic building. I did enjoy the live performance, but one thing that I also discovered was the place. It’s not my first time to be at the PICC. As a matter of fact, I had nice memories here.
In recent years, I’ve covered an event as a blogger at PICC. In the early 90s, I performed at the Plenary Hall when I was still an active member of the church in the mid 90s. And although I did not attend my graduation, I was able to witness my cousin’s. In all those instances of my visits, I never did pay attention of its surroundings.
An Architectural Feat
As a kid I learned that the Philippine International Convention Center is Asia’s first international convention center. That alone made history when it was formally opened on September 5, 1976, but that’s not all. I learned that the building was built in 23 months on reclaimed land with a floor area of more than 65,000 sq ft, designed by Filipino National Artist in Architecture Leandro V. Locsin.
From the outside, the building facade seemed massive (though it is), all-concrete, and probably unappealing to today’s generation used to the glass and metal facade. But not when you enter the building. PICC is actually composed of five building modules — the Delegation Building, Secretariat Building, Plenary Hall, Reception Hall, and The Forum. These building modules are separate and yet interconnected in a certain way.
House of the Arts
And as I joined a short tour inside PICC, I realized that this is such an instagrammable place. Take the lobby for instance with its over 3,000 drop lights. This area is truly breathtaking and is truly a grand entrance, it makes you feel like you arrived for a momentous event. As you move around, there are sights worth checking out.
The mural near the lobby for example is a painting by National Artist Jose Joya. Entitled “Pagdiriwang,” the masterpiece measures 5.5 x 7 meters, it was painted inside PICC. You’ll also see a mural by National Artist Arturo Luz entitled “Black and White” inside the Secretariat Building. At the courtyard there’s an imposing work of art called “Anito” also by Arturo Luz. Even the chairs at the PICC Executive Lounge is a work of art designed by National Artist Napoleon Abueva.
I would also consider it as a performing arts center, having been a venue for local and international artists including Lea Salonga, Ogie Alcasid, Luciano Pavarotti, Ricky Martin, Ballet performances, even beauty pageant such as the Miss Universe 1994. Just recently, I watched the popular stand-up comedian Russell Peters in his Deported World Tour at the Plenary Hall.
Meeting Place of the Minds
The Philippine International Convention Center was first used to host the World Bank’s International Monetary Fund Annual Meeting. From 1976 to now, it has become a venue for events such as the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, World Law Conference, World Congress of Anaesthesiologists, 74th Annual World Dental Congress.
During the time that I toured the place, there were corporate events happening in several function rooms. Some of the rooms have already wrapped up and are already in ingress.
A Place for Celebrations
PICC has been the go-to venue for commencement exercises. As a matter of fact, we were told that it has come to a point that educational institutions would delay their graduation rites to a later time just to be able to hold the event there. The place is also used for Christmas parties.
What surprised me the most is that this iconic venue can be used for weddings and debuts. Obviously I was putting PICC in a box where it can only host a certain type of gathering. I was dead wrong. After all, the place is huge and with many function rooms that cater to any kind of events. It’s also a venue that’ll make any celebration memorable.
Philippine International Convention Center in the Future
The Philippine International Convention Center continues to evolve. Pretty soon, the PICC Trade Exhibit Hall will be available for trade fairs, exhibitions, and events. Construction has commenced in 2017.
Construction of the Museo ng Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is also ongoing. By the looks of it, the new building will symbolize a renewal of some sort for the complex as it features a modern architecture that appeals to modern times.
It’s not that the current venue must be renovated. In it’s current state, the Philippine International Convention Center is already an iconic place that must be kept as it is. And I have to say that they’re doing a pretty good job at maintaining it.
I have to admit that, somehow, I wondered why there were no efforts to modernize the complex. After the tour, I realized that there is no need to. It is a beautiful place as it is; it’s just waiting to be discovered. A destination that should be explored by everyone.