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An epitome of strong, modern Filipina with unshakeable determination and fierce dynamism. USec. Maria Catalina E. Cabral, PhD proved that women have progressed in various industries that were dominated by men. She is the first female rank-and-file employee who has reached the level of Undersecretary in the hierarchy of officials in the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). USec. Cabral was able to reach the second highest position in the Department through hard work, determination and perseverance.

Engr. Maria Catalina Estamo–Cabral, PhD

She finished her primary and secondary education from Holy Trinity Academy. Usec. Cabral graduated at the University of the East with the degree in Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. Dr. Usec. Cabral has three (3) Masters Degrees and two (2) Doctorate Degrees in the field of Business Management, Economics and Public Administration. She later earned her degrees in Master in Business Administration, Doctor of Philosophy in Business Management and Doctor in Public Administration from Manuel L. Quezon University. Further on, Usec. Cabral also gained her Master in Economics from Lyceum of the Philippines in 2007 and her last Master’s Degree in Strategic Business Economics at the University of Asia and the Pacific in 2015. At present, she is taking another Doctorate Degree on Urban and Regional Planning at the University of the Philippines. She has attended several local and international scholarships and trainings, and is a frequently invited resource speaker here and abroad.

PROPOSED PANGUIL BAY BRIDGE City of Tangub in Misamis Occidental and Municipality of Tubod in Lanao del Norte

As DPWH Undersecretary for Planning and Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Service, Usec. Cabral is in-charge of overseeing the development of strategic and priority plans and programs of the Department including implementation of PPP projects. She is the National President and first female highest leader of the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers (PICE), which is again, exemplifying the role of women in infrastructure. She is also an active member of Road Engineering Association of the Philippines (REAP) and the American Society for Civil EngineersPhilippine Group.

“I hope that I inspire other female civil engineers out there that you, too, can do it. Never shall we be treated less than our male counterparts, and that we are now respected in an industry dominated by them.”

… was inspired by her dad to become a Civil Engineer. “During my childhood, I remember, I was fascinated on how structures are built such as high-rise buildings, roads, bridges, and others. My dad was a Civil Engineer and he was the one who started the construction of Makati Medical Center. He died when I was still in my elementary school. He didn’t live long to see the completion of the Makati Medical Center. We have a painting of that structure when it was still undergoing construction. Vaguely, I remember him telling me there are only three of the same paintings and he owned one of them. Every time I look at it in our apartment house during my childhood, I knew for sure, I wanted to become like my dad.”

… was a working student.
“This fascination was further bolstered by the workplace of my mother who incidentally was working then in the Department of Public Works and Highways. After my dad died, she singlehandedly raised us, her three children, and with no other helper to mind us, she occasionally brought us in her place of work. There, at DPWH, while my mom was working as a Clerk, I was playing with her office mates, many of them were engineers, tinkering with their tools, like rulers, slide rule T-square, etc, as there were no desktop computers back then. In college, I became a working student. At the age of 18, I started working at DPWH while getting my Civil Engineering degree. I worked from 8AM to 5PM and went to evening classes. My Saturdays and Sundays were for Laboratory classes. What I earned then helped a lot in supporting my college education.”

… started from the bottom way up to where she is today.                                                                                                                                  “I began from the bottom of the ranks so to speak as Civil Engineering Aide. I started my first Master’s Degree right after I got my license as Civil Engineer. I struggled, too, because that was still the time that a woman civil engineer is not yet acceptable in world dominated by men. But, I was more motivated by the seemingly non-acceptance of my presence in their workplace. I worked hard to show my mettle. I studied and I studied and I studied.

With God’s graces, I was promoted to where I am today.

The good thing is – I know the feeling of those in the bottom ranks because once in my life, I was in their shoes, trying to build my career as a Civil Engineer.”  

from top
Cavite Laguna Expressway, NAIA Expressway



As the society accepts the fact that women bring diverse mindsets into play, woman of today proves that they don’t just contribute to the industry, but rather, they light their own torch, illuminate the life of others, while paving their own way to success. Ar. Liza Morales-Crespo changed the game of the architecture industry as she leads the way to greener paths of the future.

Ar. Liza Morales-Crespo, UAP, LEED AP, AIA

She graduated Cum Laude from the University of the Philippines College of Architecture in 1995 and ranked 6th place in the PRC Licensure Exam for Architecture. Ar. Liza is also a New York State Licensed Architect. She finished her Master in Architecture and Urban Design (M.S.A.U.D) at Columbia University in New York and her Master in Infrastructure Planning (M.I.P.) at New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, New Jersey in 1999.She is now pursuing her Certificate in Green Building Design from the prestigious Cooper Union in New York. 

Ar. Liza Morales-Crespo, principal of Liza Crespo Ecotecture, is an architect with a focus on sustainable design. Her practice encompasses a wide range of scales from residences, office buildings, to master plan developments. For over two decades, she has worked on 5 star hotel projects and luxury residential developments all over the world as an associate at the award winning New York City firm, Brennan Beer Gorman Architects.


In 2008, she was one of the first Filipino architects to be certified as a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Accredited Professional by the U.S. Green Building Council. 

Aside from maintaining a practice in both New York and Manila, she is also a sustainable design consultant and a professor of Architecture at De La Salle University School of Design and Arts. She has delivered numerous lectures and seminars to various organizations such as the United Architects of the Philippines, Association of Structural Engineers of the Philippines, Philippine Concrete Industry Association, architecture schools and various multinational corporations.

Quezon City Residence Quezon City
Use of sustainable wood throughout as well as Big Ass Fans to circulate air throughout the space, helps ensure that this home scores green points.
ALAB Tomas Morato Ave., Quezon City This restaurant puts a fun twist to traditional Filipino cuisine and this is also manifest in the interior design. Various references to memories of Filipino childhood such as jackstones, the large spoon and fork etc. are scattered throughout the various spaces.

… was a nerd.

“I was always curious as a child. I loved to read. I would be cooped up in my room reading during the summer. I was a nerd who loved to hang out in the library. The few times I did venture out as a child, I would play with my cousins and my two brothers, who hated having their older sister hanging out with them. I wasn’t really a dolls and dresses kind of girl. I played basketball with my brothers, and wrestled with them. That was probably why it wasn’t that difficult for me to work in a field that’s predominantly male. I was comfortable being around the opposite sex.”

…is a lifelong learner.
“I was a very diligent student. I never skipped school. I never got called to the principal’s office. I really did enjoy school and learning new things. I call myself as a lifelong learner. Every year, I make it a point to learn something new. One year, I enrolled in a wine appreciation (road to being a sommelier) class. This year, I’m trying to learn about mindfulness through meditation. On my bucket list of things to learn French, completing an MBA course, etc.”

…values respect as what her parents taught her.
 “It was a lot of trial and error along the way. It was an uphill climb,but one thing that my parents taught me is to treat everyone with respect, whether they are clients or construction workers. People will remember who treated them well. And that has proven extremely helpful, as building a good reputation takes a long time and that stays with you forever.”


“I would like to be remembered as an architect who made people re-think their notions about how the built environment should be. I want to be someone who triggered questions as opposed to providing answers.”

ANTIPOLO RESIDENCE Antipolo, Rizal Sustainable design strategies were implemented throughout such as the tri-level atrium which allows daylight to filter thru all the spaces.



There are many reasons why women are making significant rise in the industry: a woman’s attention to detail, organization and negotiation skills, emotional intelligence, and more. Indeed, women empowerment is more visible in the management side of construction industry. One proof of this is Ar. Cecilia Cayman-Gamana.

Ar. Cecilia Cayman-Gamana, UAP, ASEAN Architect

As an active member of the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP), Ar. Cecil is the current Chairperson of UAP Committee of Private Practice, and held several positions including the presidency at UAP-Quezon City Silangan Chapter and Regional District Director for UAP District A3. She is also the UAP Deputy Chairman of Special Committee on APEC Architects, ASEAN Architects, and Global Practice. As acknowledgment of her dedication to the organization, Ar. Cecil have received recognitions from UAP including UAP National Awards for Best District Director Fiscal Year 2016-2017, Presidential Award of Merit, Regional Director A3 District Fiscal Year 2016- 2017, and Award of Recognitions for different positions held, to name a few

Born and raised in San Antonio, Nueva Ecija, Ar. Cecil, as what her friends and colleagues call her, graduated from Mapua Institute of Technology College of Architecture in 1993. At present, she is the Partner Architect at Robert S. Sac Architectural Design, Vice President for Project Development at RSAC & Associates, Inc., and the Principal Architect at ARCSpace Architectural Design Solution. Aside from being a registered Architect in the country, Ar. Cecil was one of the first Filipino architects to be certified as an ASEAN Architect. This certification facilitates the mobility of architectural professionals within Association of South East Asian Nation members and enhances information exchange in order to promote adoption of best practices on standards of architectural education, professional practices and qualifications. Soon, Ar. Cecil will also be conferred as an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Architect. The APEC Architect Project is intended to facilitate the provision of architectural services between participating economies around the Pacific Rim. Ar. Cecil was a delegate for the 12th Asian Congress of Architects in Beijing, China last 2006, and 13th Architects Regional Council Asia Forum in Chang Mai Thailand last 2005. She is also the Deputy Congress Director of the first and second ASEAN Architects Congress.

“Whether big or small, we consider all our projects memorable because in every project, we continue to learn more.”

El Nido, Palawan

El Nido Gardens Hotel is an ongoing project with a 6,200 sqm five (5) storey resort hotel that adapts the tropical sensibilities of Southeast Asian living located in El Nido, Palawan. Each 52 hotel room were carefully planned to fit the needs of tourists and travelers alike. along with the hotel rooms are the double volume lobby, dining restaurant, wellness activity center, multi purpose room and roof deck bar with viewing deck. Every minute detail is taken into consideration to make certain that beauty and function come together for the comfort and enjoyment of the hotel guests.

Tacloban, Leyte

The Atrium is a proposed nine (9) – storey hotel and multipurpose events venue strategically located in the heart of Tacloban City. The project has 30 hotel rooms and includes an ample space for main banquet hall with 500 person seating capacity, four (4) function rooms for conferences and business meetings, a grand reception lobby, and a restaurant café. The design of the building is inspired by the timeless beauty and elegance of Neoclassical Architecture to satisfy the aspirations of the Owner. It has a total gross floor area of 4350.00 sqm

Catbalogan, Samar

This building is a four (4) – storey with mezzanine mixed use building located at Catbalogan City, Samar. The ground floor is allotted for commercial spaces. The second and third floors are allotted for office spaces. The fourth floor is utilized as the residence of the owner of the building. This Modern Asian structure is given a combination of horizontal and vertical exterior finish through the fins complemented with large window panels.

… was a cheerful kid who loves art.
“I love to play. I had a huge imagination. I loved to draw and I read a lot, too. Like most kids, I had my ups and downs and its best to remember good old days and forget the things went wrong. But I think, I would have classified myself as a happy kid. I was blessed to have good parents, and I’m sure that made a huge difference.”

… was influenced
by his grandfather to take Architecture. “I am an average but determined student. Being an architect wasn’t really my dream course. I really wanted to take Fine Arts, but my grandfather influenced me in choosing my course. He was working as the Legal Officer at Mapua Institute of Technology and encouraged me to study in Manila. I eventually chose Architecture since, I guess, it is the closest course to Fine Arts.”

…was able to rise through her curiosity.
“I had a mix of everything when I started. Full of hopes yet with a lot of fear. I am excited but the same time, anxious, curious, and had many questions.”

Read their Q&A’s and learn more about them by downloading our June to April 2018 Issue here: Downloads

WORDS: Engr. Emilson C. Gole Cruz

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