Architecture firm traces beginnings to ‘champoy’
It was the drawings and doodles on every pack of Fat & Thin champoy that inspired Daniel Go to become a respected architect in the country.
“My family runs a processed and preserved food manufacturing business specializing in Chinese delicacies, the most famous of which is the Fat & Thin champoy candy. I got into architecture because of my dad who used to do all the drawings for the play cards that went into those champoy packages,” Go, 48, shared in a recent interview with the Inquirer.
“It was my dad who made those caricatures and cartoon characters. I grew up seeing him on his drawing table, working on those drawings,” he added.
The eldest in the family, Go spent most of his time watching his father work, eventually acquiring the same love for the art.
That exposure to sketches awakened Go’s passion for architecture, enabling him to set up Daniel C. Go & Associates, and be the principal architect for ADGO Architecture & Design Inc.
“Even in school, I would always be in these drawing competitions. My dad would often tell me that maybe, I have a future in architecture. When I was around 12-13 years old, I decided that I wanted to be an architect,” he recalled.
Things, however, took a dramatic turn when he got to high school and forced to move to another school.
Go said that humbling experience was life changing—a wake up call that pushed him to redeem himself and make up for the mistakes he had committed.
He proceeded to the University of Santo Tomas where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Architecture.
“I made a pact with myself to become one of the best in the field. On my first day at UST, I was already very focused and it has been all about architecture for me since then,” Go shared.
It did not take long for Go’s hard work and newfound discipline to pay off as professors began to take notice of his work. Even when he was just a freshman, he already joined drawing competitions, with full color entries with elaborate designs.
“I always wanted to be the best, and every year, I joined competitions. In my first year, I was disqualified because they thought somebody else did the job for me. But on my second and third years, I joined competitions again and luckily, my groupmates and I always got the biggest prizes,” he said.
But because he spent all his energy and time on studying, Go eventually got burned out.
On his fifth year, he felt his interest in architecture fading.
“I only got a passing grade for my thesis, but I accumulated such a high grade during the first four years that I managed to still graduate with honors. I was a cum laude and, if I remember correctly, there were only five of us then,” he said.
But after graduation, he did not immediately practice his profession. Instead, he focused on the business he put up with the help of his father.
“It was a buy-and-sell and auto shop that I opened beside our house. During that time, I had that feeling that maybe architecture wasn’t really that fun and good. Also, there was no else in the family who was doing it as everyone was into business,” he said.
Return to architecture
But a trip to Taiwan and a talk with one of his suppliers made Go realize again how much he loved architecture.
“One of my dad’s friends learned that I took up architecture but was into car repairs. He told me, ‘You know Daniel, you are exchanging something very, very good for something that will only give you peanuts.’ For weeks, I thought about what he said and I told myself that maybe it was time for me to rekindle my love for architecture. And to do that, I needed to get my license and prior to that, go on training,” he explained.
Go then briefly worked as a draftsman for architect Jose Siao Ling. He took the exams and got his license in 1991, after which he formally practiced architecture.
“It took me a year before I went back to architecture and it was during my stint with Architect Siao Ling that my love for architecture slowly came back. I did only one project that I would say shaped my life—a church in Sta. Mesa. From that experience, I found myself loving architecture again and doing a number of church projects that eventually became among the strengths of our office,” Go explained.
As he was building a career in architecture, Go established a company with his college buddies.
Two projects later, however, the company had to shut down.
As Go could not afford not to have a steady source of income, he and his wife decided to put up a printing company.
“My thoughts then were that, as an architect, I may not make it big, and if that happens, where will I get the resources to feed my family? I decided to set up a printing company as this might help sustain us. This was also the time I asked for God’s help and guidance and decided to give myself five more years. I said that if I don’t make something out of those five years, I’ll just go full time into business. In 1993, I was about 80 percent printer, 20 percent architect. I would juggle between two jobs,” Go shared.
According to Go, God must have answered his prayers because in 1996, projects from friends and referrals started to pour in.
That same year, Go put up Daniel C. Go & Associates.
In 2000, Go got one of the most important projects that helped define his career. He was put in charge of putting up the building for Philippine Campus Crusade for Christ. Go began to make a name for himself, eventually being conferred and elevated to the College of Fellows in the Field and Category of Design of the United Architects of the Philippines in 2006.
In the same year, he established ADGO Architecture & Designs Inc., and started taking in bigger projects alongside a pool of younger architects. By 2008, Go was given an Apec Architect Award.
“The biggest break also came in 2006 when I won the project to build CCF Center (Christ’s Commission Fellowship Worship and Training Center), which was completed only last year. When I was given this project, I said to the Lord that I’m giving you my service pro bono as a form of gratitude for the many blessings that have come my way,” Go said.
This, Go claimed, was his first big project even though he had already worked on various developments such as residential spaces, condominiums, townhouse units, institutional buildings, warehouse compounds, commercial and office buildings, industrial complexes and hotels.
“I have not designed anything of this magnitude, and designing and erecting this project took me seven years. But with God’s guidance, I was able to create something that could help change and transform lives,” Go said, referring to the CCF Center.
The 11-story CCF Center in Pasig City is the international headquarters of the non-denominational CCF. It is one of the largest worship centers in the Philippines, with an area of 97,000 square meters and a seating capacity of 10,000.
Aside from the CCF Center, another major project for Go is the BTTC Centre in Greenhills, San Juan City.
Completed in 2013, the BTTC Centre is a LEED Gold certified building, reportedly the first in San Juan City, as well as for Go, who is looking forward to building more.
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