Concrete Chronicles: A Conversation with Maila Villadelgado of the PICC

The PICC’s Events Services Officer gives a glimpse of what it is like to work in National Artist Leandro Locsin's brutalist oeuvre

Interview Patrick Kasingsing (PICC)
Video and Editing Danielle Austria
Editing Gabrielle de la Cruz and Mano de la Cruz
Photography Patrick Kasingsing and Danielle Austria

Maila Villadelgado, Events Services Officer of the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC)

Editor’s note: Further edits have been made to the video transcript to fit the website format.

Hello! Please introduce yourself. What are the things that come with your role in the PICC?

Hello, Brutalist Pilipinas and Kanto! My name is Maila Villadelgado. I am an Events Services Officer here at the Philippine International Convention Center, or the PICC.

I oversee going around the common areas and ensuring all the requirements discussed for an event are in place. This includes calling our technical staff to ensure everything we need is working, double-checking set-ups and decorations, ensuring there are signages for guests, and confirming that safety protocols are in place. I am also responsible for the smallest details. I check whether the floors have been swept and whether there are stains on the carpets or rugs. I even note the smell of each venue and look at the toilet areas! We also give the client eight (8) hours before their event to prepare, which is complimentary and standard.

Oath-taking ceremonies on the day of our visit. Ms. Villadelgado took us behind the scenes of her day job

That’s a lot of detailed work for such a big space! Do you remember your first day at the office? What were your first impressions of the building and the environment?

I remember the day I was going to be interviewed for a job here at the PICC; it has been a while since I visited or set foot in the building. As we were driving by the building, I recall being impressed and intimidated at the same time. I never realized how massive the structure is. It’s all stone and cement—much like a giant boulder. Then, the moment I stepped inside the lobby, I was surprised by how wide and spacious it was. It felt light and airy. Looking up and seeing the lights felt like looking at stars, especially at night. I was truly surprised by how beautiful and well-maintained the building was, especially since I knew its age.


Do you have a favorite spot or time of day in the PICC? Outside your desk, which part of the building do you spend the most time in?

I have three favorite spots here in the center. One is at the upper bridgeway with views of the center’s pillars, which appear like two giants when you sit in the middle. During the pandemic, we were encouraged to dine al fresco. Tables and chairs would be set out in that area, and we’d have lunch or merienda there. The stone bridge also adds to the beauty of the entire scenery. You get to witness the heaviness of the structure while breathing in the lightness of the open spaces, the APEC garden on the left, and the courtyard towards the right. I love that.

The APEC Garden itself is another favorite! I love walking around it during the afternoons. I would also love to know more about the donated artworks there.

The third is the space between the lower bridgeway and the courtyard, which has tables, chairs, and umbrellas. Here, you can bring a book, have a cup of tea or coffee, or just sit and relax.

Are there portions or qualities of the Convention Center that merit enhancement or improvement?

Are there portions of the PICC that need improvement? I can picture a lounge area where people can come in, sit down, and appreciate art. We lack spaces where people can rest, and it would be good to add those in.

The APEC Garden (left) and Arturo Luz’s giant Anito at the PICC courtyard (right)
The walkway from the bridgeway towards the courtyard lined with umbrella-sheltered chairs and tables

What are some memorable things you’ve heard whenever people talk about the PICC? Are there any misconceptions you’d like to debunk?

The PICC is recognized as a place for huge events such as graduations and oath-takings. And while that is nice, it’s important for people to know that the center has more to offer. We have smaller rooms and versatile indoor and outdoor spaces that accommodate different activities. Breakfast meetings, small gatherings, or even outdoor photo shoots can be done here. Runway types of events are also possible at the upper or lower bridgeways. The center is more than what people have perceived it to be for the longest time. I hope the public realizes that so they can appreciate the space more.

The PICC has always hosted large numbers of people. How would you describe the space’s atmosphere when there are events compared to relatively quieter days?

The building felt utterly different during the pandemic. We only reported two at a time per department, and while it felt quiet and safe, I also sensed a bit of loneliness. You could hear the footsteps echoing as a few people walked along the corridors and hallways. Even if it was empty, it felt heavy.

Once the restrictions were lifted and we saw the graduations, oath-takings, and small conventions returning, I felt the place’s energy change. It was livelier and, surprisingly, lighter. You could say that the space was happy to welcome back the people, the noise, and the chatter. Young people were in their togas again, braving the sweltering sun and taking selfies at some of the structure’s iconic spots. The building was back to its true form.

One thing we can take away from this is that the building really needs people, be it small or big crowds. PICC is a space for celebrations. It’s built that way. It’s meant to be that way.

Lastly, what do you appreciate most about the PICC’s spaces and how they are designed?

One thing I’ve observed about PICC is that it is well-loved. Despite its imposing façade, something about its light interiors tells you it has witnessed many personal and professional milestones. The space has hosted numerous graduations, oath-takings, Christmas parties, general membership meetings, and more. It’s a place where people gather and celebrate their successes. There’s no wonder that it is well-loved. •

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp
Share on linkedin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *