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Tolentino Wins Asia Pacific Entrepreneur Awards

11 January 2016

Recognized as one of the pillars of the progressive practice of architecture and design in the country, Architect Abelardo M. Tolentino, Jr. is Aidea’s Founder, CEO and President. His 28 years of experience in the industry has earned him global recognition and catapulted Aidea as a premier architectural firm placing consistently in the World Architecture Top 100 for six years, ranking its best thus far at 62nd in 2015.

Architect Tolentino’s career began in 1987 when he joined Hong Kong based firms – John Lei Architects Ltd, HOK Asia Pacific and Robert Matthew Johnson Marshall (RMJM). After a decade of international practice, he went back to the Philippines and became the managing director of RMJM Philippines. In 2003, he then assumed the position of President and CEO when he decided to buy out the company’s operations and re-branded the firm as Aidea Philippines Inc., subsequently becoming an all-Filipino organization. The word Aidea comes from the Latin word “A idea ad esse” which means from ideas to reality.

He instituted reforms and introduced new ideas to the firm. One of the most significant of which is Aidea's principle on 'Integrated Design Service', which utilizes the four main core fields of design - architecture, planning, interior design and experiential graphics design. This discipline provides solutions to every design challenge, and with the application of new technologies produces exceptional designs that can compete with the best in the world.

An expert in design, Aidea has catapulted itself as the premier and foremost user of new platforms in technology. And as the firm redefines architectural services and strengthens its commitment in providing the highest value with innovation, it has since introduced Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) which covers the whole life cycle of a development from concept, schematic, design development, detail design, construction, operation and renovation stage thus allowing Aidea to work on even larger and more complex undertakings.

As a firm, Aidea is uniquely set-up with “studios” that functions as independent firms that have capabilities to handle different types of projects from concept to actual construction and turnover. It has an Innovations and Quality Assurance group which ensures that all plans pass through strict design standards and codes. Interestingly, he has also created a Technology department whose mandate is to explore systems and software that will enable the company to work more efficiently.

Under Architect Tolentino’s leadership, his firm has successfully completed award-winning projects that have become benchmarks in the world. A significant number of Aidea’s projects have received recognitions in the Philippines Property Awards, South East Asia Property Awards and International Property Awards making Architect Tolentino one of the Top 10 Architects ranked by BCI Asia since 2011.

In 2007, Architect Tolentino was an Ernst and Young Innovation Entrepreneur Awardee and one of the Outstanding Thomasian Alumni in 2008. He was also given the distinction of Ani ng Dangal for Architecture and Allied Arts by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts in 2013. In 2014, he became an ASEAN architect. This year, he was conferred as a Fellow of the United Architects of the Philippines and became an APEC architect.

To his credit, he is a member of the Council for New Urbanism, member of Urban Land Institute and a member of the Society of Environmental Graphic Design. He also has a Masters degree in Industrial Engineering and Management.

He has likewise received top honors in competitions including BIM Buzz Singapore 2011 for Best use of BIM for Sustainability, Buildability, Constructability in the Professional Category, Build Qatar Live 2012 and Build London Live 2012 for Best Use of BIM for Design, Drama and Excitement.

In the industry he is highly regarded as a man of integrity, who is results-driven and is always nurturing relationships. He has established a pretty good clientele base that he has worked with since the olden days and hence demonstrates a deep level of trust and confidence in him.

As a mentor, Sir Jojo, as he is fondly called, is respected and adored by his employees. He has shown genuine care for their professional and personal growth. In Aidea, he considers his people the firm’s biggest strength and has made it a priority to develop them to become well-rounded professionals with a global mindset. This year, he established an in-house University that will teach and train his employees not just on design but get them acquainted on the soft skills that are important in succeeding in this business. He is much appreciated by the people he works with for the genius that he is, who has willingly shared his knowledge and wealth of experience.

In 2012, he formalized the creation of a design foundation that aims to give back to the industry. Aidea is committed to educate aspiring designers to prepare them for practice. The foundation has 20 university scholars to date, providing them with a 100% coverage of their tuition and miscellaneous fees as well as monthly allowances and opportunities to attend supplemental formation, workshops and on-the-job trainings. Further expanding the foundation’s reach in 2015 with the firm’s adoption of a disadvantaged primary school that will be given support in kind and infrastructure. And in so many ways, he has gracefully accommodated speaking engagements with students and practitioners as audiences, where he has shared everything he knows and more about the profession that he was destined to be known for.

The future is brighter than ever for Architect Tolentino and Aidea as they move forward towards ASEAN integration and in a few years the GATS treaty. Aidea is poised to open offices in major cities in the world where opportunities to grow is pretty high. International alliances and joint ventures have been inked and are now fully operational. This network of practice will allow Aidea and its member firms to work on projects globally.

Through the years, Aidea has grown steadily from a manpower of 20 to a now 200 strong firm composed of brilliant designers who have built visions and dreams. Now in its 20th year, Aidea is geared towards becoming a force to reckon with in the international practice. With a reach that spans over 90 cities within 60 countries in five continents, Architect Abelardo Tolentino is a true visionary with world class design thinking.

Motto   The Filipino Talent is world class

Career Highlights

Abelardo Tolentino was managing director of Robert Matthew Johnson Marshall (RMJM) Philippines

2003 The firm was rebranded as Aidea Philippines Inc. and became an all-Filipino organization. Architect Tolentino assumed the position of President and CEO

2014-2015 He became an ASEAN and APEC Architect

2015 Aidea celebrates its 20th Anniversary


In the industry he is highly regarded as a man of integrity, who is results-driven and is always nurturing relationships.

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