Collector spotlight: Francisco J. Nakpil, artist and architect 2
Francisco Nakpil with wife Esther. (Right) "Cyclist" by Arturo Luz. Photo from the Nakpil family.

The legacy of Francisco J. Nakpil, descendant of heroes and one National Artist

He was part of the team that designed the Rizal Theater, which was headed by his father Juan Nakpil, but he had his own notable contributions to Philippine architecture
ANCX Staff | Nov 20 2022

Among the highlights of the upcoming Leon Gallery The Kingly Treasures Auction is an important Arturo Luz painting from the collection of Francisco J. Nakpil, the Filipino architect and artist, second son of the esteemed Juan Nakpil, National Artist for Architecture and Anita Noble, the first-ever Miss Philippines. 

From left Eulogio Nakpil, Juan Nakpil,Ariston Nakpil and Francisco Nakpil
From left: Eulogio Nakpil, Juan Nakpil, Ariston Nakpil and Francisco Nakpil

Affectionately called “Tatay” or “Kokoy” by his loved ones, he followed his father’s footsteps in making a name for himself in architecture. Francisco was also a descendent of the noted musician Julio Nakpil, who was ‘Sub-Supremo’ after Andres Bonifacio in the Philippine Revolution of 1896. Julio would later marry the widow of Bonifacio, the intrepid Gregoria De Jesus. Thus, the creative virtuosity and devotion to the arts runs strongly in his veins.

the Nakpil brothers with Mrs Marcos : (l-r) Eulogio, Francisco and Ariston
The Nakpil brothers—Eulogio, Francisco and Ariston—with Imelda Marcos. 

According to Laura Yupangco Nakpil, granddaughter of Francisco, Juan grew up in a traditional illustrado household, which means orthodox and dignified. “He would regularly take his children to trips, especially in their various rest-houses such as one in Yangco Street, Baguio as well as their house in Novaliches, Bulacan,” says Laura. “They also kept the regular gatherings in their home in Dakota, Manila where Francisco and his siblings all grew up. Moreover, their Dakota residence was designed by Juan Nakpil himself.” 

The Nakpil brothers with Mrs. Marcos
The Nakpil brothers with Mrs. Marcos

Laura adds that because of Juan’s close personal friendship with the painter, Fernando Amorsolo, in their mansion in Dakota used to hang a large, life-sized painting of Juan’s wife by the master himself, a centerpiece in the Nakpil living room. 

Kokoy’s academic background further honed his technical and artistic skills, graduating from the University of Santo Tomas with a degree of B.S Architecture, as well as obtaining a Master’s Degree of Architecture in the Cranbrook Academy of Arts – Michigan, U.S.A. He would polish his craft more by pursuing graduate work in the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Fontainebleau, France.

The Rizal Theater.
The Rizal Theater.

Francisco had an extensive repertoire of projects contributing to the conception of several prominent buildings in the Philippines. He was on the design team of his father in creating some of the most iconic buildings, which included the Rizal Theater, known for its elegance and grandeur, a memorable Makati spot for many for being a go-to performance and film venue of its time.

Kokoy would also be on the design team of his father for several theaters, including the art-deco jewel Ever as well as Main, State, and Quezon.

Don Bosco Technical School, Makati
Don Bosco Technical School, Makati

His own projects included the Don Bosco Technical Institute in Makati as well as several structures in the University of the Philippines, including the College of Mathematics, the Institute of Physics, the Science Library and Administration and the Institute of Marine Science. He also designed various private residences and business offices across the city.

National Computer Center, Diliman Quezon City
National Computer Center, Diliman Quezon City

Kokoy was a family man and was married to Esther Atienza. They eventually had eight children. He wanted to pass his love of the arts down to his offspring by filling the walls of his home—which he had designed himself—with a diverse collection of art pieces ranging from paintings and sculptures that were done by prominent Filipino artists. His love for the arts was clearly not just limited to creating art, but also blossomed to his being an avid collector.

National Institute of Physics Bldg. UP Diliman
National Institute of Physics Bldg. UP Diliman

Among his favorites was a painting by the National Artist Arturo Luz, of a trigonic humanoid atop a bicycle engulfed in a moody yet intense atmosphere that he purchased in the 1950s. Luz was known for his meticulously intricate details and imaginative abstraction, and here he incorporates elements of Neo-Realism for which Francisco had a love and fascination.

Cyclist by Arturo Luz
Lot 38 "Cyclist" by Arturo Luz. ca. 1955-1958. Signed (lower right). Enamel on board. 30" x 20" (76 cm x 51 cm)

Displaying it at the heart of his home’s living room for his guests to appreciate, that painting became an integral sentimental memory for those who set foot in that house, from his children to his grandchildren. The painting majestically hung on its wall for decades, witness to the various narratives of those who inhabited that house, as well as being the backdrop for many family photos taken during Sunday lunches and reunions. 

The painting therefore, being offered at The Kingly Treasures Auction on December 3, holds a special place in the hearts of the members of the clan. It was in addition lovingly maintained and taken care of, no wonder it was able to preserve its beauty and withstand several generations. Hopefully, it lives longer to capture the hearts and amazement of more people to come. 

[The painting from the private collection of Francisco Nakpil is among the highlights of the upcoming Leon Gallery The Kingly Treasures Auction. Co-presented by ANCX, the urban man’s guide to culture and style, the auction is happening on December 3 at 2PM, G/F Eurovilla I, V.A. Rufino corner Legazpi Streets, Legazpi Village, Makati City.]

For more information and to browse the rest of the auction lots, visit their website at

Photos courtesy of Leon Gallery