Interviewed via E-Mail
December 19, 2013

Matthew Andrews, CA+T Interviewer
Manny Montelibano, Artist

Matthew Andrews: How did you get started in art (e.g., as a child, in school)?

Manny Montelibano: My exposure to art started since pre-school. Specifically, I was exposed to theater and reading old magazines which were sent to us by our Aunt from the US. At the same time, I love to watch movies. During weekends, I would collect junk from my grandfathers' junk lot and would sell it, and the money I got I spent to watch movies. Other than that, my parents run a fish farm, and I would sell fish to our neighbors, and profits that I got I would spend it also in the movies.

In high school, there was a boom on the rental of movies on Betamax and VHS, but it was only for those who can afford the Betamax or VHS players. So, I got an opportunity to work for my aunt in her video rental store during summer, and I got to watch all the new movies. This also included NBA games, TV series, etc.

This continued during the time of laser discs, VCDs, and DVDs. I am very observant of the things that are happening around me and would analyze it.

My education is from an exclusive boys’ school, University of St. La Salle, until college.

MA: Many of your works include video. How did you become interested in using video as a medium in your work?

MM: I started to produce documentaries when i was in college, and after i established a collective that aimed to produce independent short films. I used Betamax, VHS, video 8, Hi8, DVD, and mini-DVDs. The medium is so accessible now; cellphones have videos already.

MA: You have said that your work focuses on the psychology of current social, political, economic, and religious structures. Could you speak more about this?

MM: I am a very interested in analyzing things. Especially what is happening around me, my community, my country, and the world. The complexity of events, that which happened in the past in relation to the present, is very "colorful". Living in the Philippines is a challenge, and being exposed to all these structures is an inspiration. I live in a very complex society. The social, political, economic, and religious structures are built from a mix of cultures and different traditions practiced in different islands, the evolution of feudalism, Christianity, imported education, and include genetics.

MA: How did you come up with the idea of your piece ESCABECHE: Filipino Sweet and Sour?

MM: Every family in the Philippines has a relative living or working outside the country. Our government refers to them as our modern day heroes, the Overseas Filipino Workers. They are heroes because they provide for their families, good education, better homes, and they provide a door to opportunities. But on the other hand, [working overseas] destroys the basic structure of the Filipino society, the family. Fathers and mothers leave their children so that they can provide for their wants and needs. ESCABECHE is inspired by the OFW experience, a sweet and sour experience.

MA: What inspires you and why?

MM: Human behavior. It is constantly adjusting to the changing times.