HoRP#23: Mary Grace

(c) John Mervin Borja

After almost a lifetime of fighting for her dream degree, she was ready to give up. Then life took an unexpected turn. Mary Grace Hadlos, a third-year architecture student, shares how she convinced her mother to let her take the course.


Though unaware, her love for the craft started at a young age.

“Noong bata pa kasi ko mahilig ako gumawa ng plan ng bahay pero di ko pa actually alam. Noong past lang tinignan ko ‘yung mga gawa ko, okay naman. Basta ‘yun po, mahilig ako mag-floor plans, mag-visualize ng mga bahay. Interior.”

Mary Grace has already set her mind to become an architect way before she was out of high school. Her father, who studied the same course but was too ill to finish it, has always been supportive of her. For a young girl to aspire for a professional path that she loves, what could possibly go wrong?

(c) John Mervin Borja

Then life’s practicality got in the way. It kept pushing Mary Grace to study Education, which to her mother’s eyes, was the best and safest shot.

Kasi yung auntie ko, ‘yung bunso n’yang kapatid ay principal ng public school. Para daw backer-backer. Tsaka ‘yung school ko kasi dati, teaching talaga ‘yung focus. Simula kinder hanggang high school, doon ako pinag-aral. Parang gusto nya na rin, doon na rin ako ng college. Sabi ko: “Ayoko naman makulong na do’n.”

She tried to talk her way out of her mother’s decision, but it didn’t work. Mary Grace took it all out in every graduation speech she made, hoping that she may be heard. Her mother did see all the hints, but still refused to cave in.

(c) John Mervin Borja


Parang hindi n’ya kasi pinapakinggan. Meron pala kaming pinagtalunan noon kaso tinanggap ko na lang. Teaching na talaga. Inisip ko na lang na: “Sige, sundin mo ‘yung magulang mo.” Christian din kasi ko so parang kapag sinaway mo ‘yung magulang mo, iba yo’n e. Kaya siguro, si God na lang din para ma-take ko ’to. Kasi bawal umiba sa landas. Inaccept ko na lang sa sarili ko, ay teaching na talaga ko.”

That time, Mary Grace decided to raise the white flag and let things be. Soon came the college registration day.

“Tapos all of a sudden, noong first year college enrollment. Sabi nya “Sige na mag-architecture ka na.” Umiyak kaya ko noon kasi ina-accept ko na. Whole day iniyak ko na lang.”

Now, she is halfway through finishing the degree with goals already lined-up.

(c) Trixie Bautista


“Graduate muna, makapasa muna sa mga subject, especially design. Hirap din kasi hanggang design 10 kami, design 6 pa lang ako. Tapos ‘yon, makagraduate. Makapasa ng board, makapagtrabaho, ‘yung licensed. Tapos matulungan sila Mama muna.”

With the exception of the pambansang photobomb,  DMCI Torre de Manila,  this future architect finds Manila’s skyline inspiring.

“Imbes na itong park ‘yung maging attraction naging disturbance s’ya doon sa dapat na environment.”

Our short conversation ended with Mary Grace sharing a quote she tries to live by:

“Everybody fails, but who cares. At least you learned. Basta nagpatuloy ka pa rin sa buhay mo.”

On why she is at Rizal Park:

“Parang naging hobby ko na rin kasi kapag mag-isa po o kaya may inaantay.”

Words by Trixie Bautista

Photos by John Mervin Borja and Trixie Bautista


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