LOOK: 11-year old designs urban plans from memory

By Fernando Sepe, Jr., ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Feb 18 2014 02:58 PM | Updated as of Feb 22 2014 02:47 AM

MANILA -- Those involved in the rehabilitation efforts in Tacloban can probably learn a thing or two from Lance Basilio with his line drawings of urban landscape.

Basilio, or “Tikoy” as he likes to be called, is currently exhibiting his works at the Museo Pambata in Manila. The works consist mostly of cityscapes and buildings from an aerial perspective, much like how a professional architect or urban planner would envision a city while building from scratch.

The catch is: Tikoy is just 11 and a grade four student at the Maria Montessori in Pasay City. The pen-and-paper drawings are his way of whiling away his time.

The interest in such drawings started early on when he was four. He was first fascinated with different flags of the world that eventually led him the different capitals of these countries. Upon seeing pictures of these capitals, Tikoy immediately started drawing sketches of buildings and skylines, according to his elder brother Lionel Basilio.

“He just looks at hundreds of photos while surfing the Internet and from there he builds his own concepts,” said the elder Basilio.

Having an interior lighting decorator for a mother probably rubbed off on Tikoy as well. His mother, Mimi Basilio, said she has sketches of lighting designs she has for her clients lying around the house but she didn’t think this is what influenced Tikoy to go into landscape drawings.

“There is no artist in the family and Tikoy never had formal art training,” she added.

But it was also Mimi and Tikoy’s godmother, well-known Cultural Center of the Philippines resident lighting director Shoko Matsumoto, who spotted Tikoy’s potential.

Tikoy at first dismissed the idea of him exhibiting his works saying he was “ashamed” of them. But when they finally convinced him on the idea of an exhibit, Tikoy immediately got down to work and proceeded to work even more fervently on his drawings.

In one month, he produced a 40-piece urban cityscape that he drew page by page, without any masterplan, but turned out connected to each plate once laid out as a whole.

Tikoy did this from memory alone. His memory is so good that he even drew one scene two different times but turned out exactly the same, like it was a photocopy of each other.

Such attention to detail and precise memory is probably brought by his condition. You see, Tikoy has Asperger’s Syndrome, a mild form of autism.

Mimi believes Tikoys interest in drawing is what drew him out of his shell and allowed him to progress in his schooling. Tikoy first went to Bridges School, a school for children with special needs, but after seeing him progress in his education the school itself recommended he transfer to a mainstream school, hence his enrollment at Maria Montessori.

“Kids with special needs also have special abilities and it’s in the visual arts that they often exhibit these,” said Maricel Montero, Museo Pambata director.

Aside from the plates of Tikoy on exhibit, some of his drawings were transformed by his mother to elegant lamps, her own expertise. Indeed, more than urban plans, Tikoy’s artworks are an inspiration to any adolescent wanting a better future for the Philippines.

“We don’t deserve to have squatters,” Tikoy would often say, according to his mother.

But right now, being an urban planner, or much less design future cities, is farthest from his interests. For Tikoy, he would just like to draw what’s on his mind, but it would be a pity if the rest of us would not see the beauty hidden inside there.

Tikoy Basilio's exhibit runs until February 22 at the Museo Pambata.