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raison d'être

Russel Lazaro, 22, Philippines
architect's apprentice, part-time caricaturist. photography enthusiast, and a frustrated
chef. This blog is a hodge podge of everything that I live for thus the title "Raison d' etre".

All posts under the tag russellazaro and or own are mine and if you're planning to use it, kindly notify me first.

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Once upon a time, a little chubby boy from a far far away land called Cavite, dreamed of one day becoming an architect. Armed with his ambition and some magical Kure Color Markers, he battle 5 years of architecture school, a year and a half of apprenticeship, endured 2 grueling days of Professional Licensure Examinations, and a week of anxious waiting, finally, the little chubby kid became an architect. :)

Pictures were taken during the Oath-Taking for New Architects a couple of weeks ago at the Historic Manila Hotel.  

Tappiya Falls

Batad, Ifugao


Gateway to Batad: Saddle Point.

After 2 hours of that intense jeepney ride (good thing I didin’t succumb to Matt’s challenge of riding on top of the jeepney),  we started preparing for our descend to Batad. We did some stretching, and bought some last minute supplies for our hike.

Oh, here are the things that you may need for your hike to Batad:

1. A Raincoat

-If you are planning to go during summer, it might not be necessary but if you are going during the wet season, you may want to bring a sturdy raincoat. Buy the heavy duty one. It’s a lesson learned for me because I didn’t bring one and I just bought a huge laundry bag and made  into a make-shift raincoat, and it only lasted, well for a couple of hours. 

2. Water Bottle

Like any strenuous activity, you need to stay hydrated during the hike. Rather than buying from the store at Saddle Point, I advise you to please just bring a water bottle with you, fill it up with water in advance. It would save you money and it would be one less plastic water bottle on the trail.

3. Mosquito Repellent  

Oh boy,did Matt came prepared with this one. He brought mosquito repellent lotion, stick-ons, a can of insecticide, and mosquito coils. If that’s not a manifestation of a phobia of mosquitoes/ malaria/ dengue , I don’t know what is! 

4. First Aid Kit

Rough terrain, rain, mud, and sharp rocks could be a concoction for disaster. During the hike you may get bruises, cuts, and whatnot so you may want to bring a simple First aid kit. Some band aids, cotton swabs,and a travel size bottle of Isopropyl  alcohol will do.

The hike from Saddle point to Batad Proper could take from 2-3.5 hours depending on how fast you move. Our group made it to Batad in 3 hours because we had to stop for 20 minutes at a rest stop because the rain was unbearable.

En route to Batad

One of the most amazing perks of travelling alone is that you get to meet new interesting people. I’m usually very shy when it comes to meeting new people, you know, my social skills are like -43, but on this trip, i tried to take things differently.

On the way to Banaue, I met Matthew and Mel, a couple from London and we clicked right away and since we’re all headed to Batad, we decided to go as a group. They’re really nice; Matt and I shared a lot in common because we are both architects, we talked a lot about Filipino Architecture and the practice and on their next trip here I promised to take them to Vigan.

Anyway, the trip from Manila to Banaue take 8 hours by land, the original plan is to go straight to Batad from Banaue, but then the 3 of  us were so exhausted from the 8 hour bus ride that we decided to stay overnight in Banaue to rest so we can go to Batad the next morning fresh and well rested. Matt and Mel went to a different lodge (People’s Lodge) because there are no more available private rooms with Toilet at the lodge that we first visited but I decided to stay at the first Lodge (Green View Lodge) because I don’t mind using communal toilets and baths.

We had breakfast at my lodge then the two took a well deserved nap because an 8 hour bus ride is no joke. I couldn’t sleep so I went for a walk/hike. I went to the Banaue Museum and did some sketches then I felt tired so I took a nap. I woke up around 3pm, grabbed a book at the my lodge’s lounge and read, after an hour I fell asleep on the wooden sofa and Matt and Mel woke me up because it’s already time for dinner! We had dinner and a couple of beers at my lounge and then they headed out. I stayed at the lodge’s Dinner for a while to just chill and sketch some more. A retired art teacher from Florida (Keith) approached me because he saw me sketching and he gave me some pointers on sketching. After a while, 2 ladies from Holland (Michelle and Milek) joined us at the table, they were so funny, they let me guess what country they are from, I said Poland (CLOSE ENOUGH, Milek actually has Polish roots). I thought the night would be a little mellow, but then here come the Koreans, 2 Korean guys (Jun and Dae Hyun) joined our table and they are Hilarious, the 6 of us moved to the Lounge and Dae Hyun pulled out a suspicious looking bottle of water, IT’S TEQUILA! After a couple of shots, we played truth or dare and Keith dared me to buy something from the store with a fake British accent (I was pretty convincing BTW). After a few more shots, we decided to call it the night.

I woke up around 6 am the next day all refreshed and ready for the hike to Batad. I recieved a message from Matt to meet me at their lodge for breakfast. I prepared my things, took a shower and headed out. It’s just unfortunate that I didn’t have a chance to say goodbye to my new friends at the lodge. While waiting for me, Matt made arrangements with the tour guides for us 3 and we paid a total of P 1700 each (inclusive of the transfers, the tour guide, and overnight accommodation in Batad)  

Matt, Mel, and I boarded the jeepney en route to Saddle Point with other backpackers around 7:30 am. Let me tell you, that was one hell of a jeepney ride. I’m talking rain, falling debris, and super narrow road networks here people. 

-To Be Continued-    

Banaue, Ifugao

For most backpackers and travelers, the journey starts here in Banaue. Once a quaint, humble town, now Banaue is now emerging as a backpacking mecca in the country.

Connecting trips to nearby destinations like Sagada and Batad can be found here at reasonable prices, you can haggle with the drivers for a better price. Quick tip: Travelling in groups will save you a lot more money. If you’re S.O.L.O., you can join groups of backpackers to go with. 

Planning to stay overnight? Banaue has got you covered. Inns, pensions, and lodges can be found along the main artery of the town; prices may range from P 250.00 (I am serious) to P 1000.00 a night depending on the type and the size of the room. Most of the lodges and inns have complimentary Wi Fi so you don’t have to worry, you can still instagram the hell out of Banaue.


The Batad Amphitheater Rice Terraces. 

Batad, Banaue

Think of Batad as Banaue’s unpopular yet equally as gorgeous little sister;  often overlooked but once you get to know her, you’ll immediately fall in love with her. This is from my trip last November and my heart tells me that I should go back up there really soon. More photos and stories to come!


It’s been a while Tumblr. :) I have had a lot on my plate lately and please do consider this as a comeback. I have thought of deactivating my tumblr once but I realized that I have already poured so much time in to it that I decided to stay. I’m more active on Instagram now, so you can also follow me there (arch_lazaro).

 Hookah Bar, Candy Shoppe

6208 W 87th Street, Los Angeles, California

Design and Rendering by : yours, truly. :)

Here’s my second solo project. :) It’s a hookah lounge in LA owned by my Aunt and we’re now gearing towards construction! Yay!  We now have a contractor and I hope the construction goes smoothly. I won’t be able to see the construction  first-hand because I can’t fly to LA just yet because I’m prepping for my architecture licensure exams on January. For the meantime, my Aunt now is supervising everything for me. :)


Kenneth Cobonpue Hive Collection

Our job site happens to be in the same building as Kenneth Cobonpue’s showroom in Makati, so I decided to pay a visit. Most of the stuff on display are from Cobonpue’s Hive collection which he debuted last Manila FAME. Hive is a long shot from his earlier collections which are more serious and are mostly in earth colors. Hive boasts a myriad of vibrant colors and rich textures with of course the a twist of modernism.

Kenneth Cobonpue Opening at The Residences at Greenbelt. It’s like I died and went up to design heaven! #KennethCobonpue #InteriorDesign #design #furniture #modern #Filipino #Makati

Gala - Rodriguez House, Sariaya Quezon

A few Saturdays back, our client invited our team over to present the final scheme of our church design in their ancestral house in Sariaya, Quezon. The presentation went well, everyone was pleased with our design, in fact we secured 3 checks for the funding.

After the presentation, we had lunch with the Bishop of Quezon who’s a little grumpy at that time, the Parish Priest, our client, and some very wealthy donors.<wink>. After Lunch our client offered to give us a tour of their Art Deco heaven, without no pinch of hesitation, I said “Yes”.

The House was built at the turn of the World War 2 by Dr. Isidro Rodriguez as a response to his Ailing wife’s last request, her dream home. Dr. Rodriguez, comissioned the Architect Juan Nakpil, who’s now one of the 4 National Artist for Architecture in the country. The style of the house is Dominantly of the Art Deco style, highlighted by fine French Art Nouveau furniture from the biggest furniture atelier of their time, Don Gonzalo Puyat.

"Maswerte"(lucky) as the people of Sariaya call it, because it was actually bombed 3 times by the Americans during the World War 2 because the Japanese loved the design so much that they made it as their headquarters. They even shot a Japanese Commercial here in the 30’s. The first bomb hit only their fence but luckily the bomb didn’t explode. The second bomb hit a portion of their stairwell and again the bomb didn’t explode. The last and final bomb exploded but it only damaged their backyard, the hole made by the bomb was later on made into a swimming pool.

The other interesting feature of the house is the secret passage way to the bunker where they used to hide the young, beautiful Donya Carmen Rodriguez from General Ashima who, at that time was obsessed with Donya Carmen. the secret bunker is hidden under the floor of their formal dining room which was covered with carpeting to conceal the passage way. Donya Carmen hid there with his entire family during the climax of the World War.

Decades later, The house was passed on to Donya Carmen with her husband Judge Vicente Arguelles. Which later on passed to their only child, our Client, Gladiola Arguelles - Cabunag.

There’s no secret that i love heritage structures, but this one really spoke to me because of its history. It has been bombed several times but it’s still there standing tall in all its glory. The mansion is also a symbol of Dr. Rodriguez’s love for his wife and his promise of a grand home. Our client told me that maybe the reason why the house didn’t fall apart during the war was because it’s a testimony of his grandfather’s love, a love that is stronger than any bomb or grenade or any piece of war weaponry ever created.

"I’m breaking my attachment to physical power and possessions. Because only through destroying myself can I discover the greater power of my spirit."


Fight Club | Chuck Palahniuk 

Nagsasa, 2011

Seeing your work take shape before your eyes is one of the best feelings in the world; It’s kinda like watching your child grow up. :”) I’m so excited. We are installing the roof trusses this week! yay!

San Sebstian Church

Manila, Philippines