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I was born and grew up eating pakbet and bagnet in the Northern province of the Philippines, Ilocos Norte. I studied at the Philippine High School for the Arts in the kingdom of the deity Maria Makiling, Mount Makiling. It was there where I learned art. I took up fine arts at the University of the Philippines, Diliman where I was politicized and exposed to the other side of the Marcos regime. Hailing from Marcoslandia and spending four years of high school in an Imelda Marcos project playing angklung and banduria for Imelda dignitary visitors, it was at UP where I was awakened with the socio-political realities of the country at that time. I went on to work for multi-national companies in the advertising industry for more than two decades as an art director, selling consumer products from shampoo and deodorants to motor oils to food and beverages to cooperative banks. I worked on the side on book illustrations and designs garnering the Book Designer of the Year at the National Awards in 1998 and finalist for Best Children’s Book Award in 1996. I was awarded the Bronze Medal in the Art Association of the Philippine Painting Competition in 1995. I had my first Solo Exhibit in 1996, and I was censored several times after that in succeeding exhibitions because of the socio-political content of my works. They were socio-political satires of the Philippines. People in power in the Philippines just don’t have the sense of humor! I’ve stopped painting for a while until I was awarded with an art grant from the Asian Cultural Council in 2009. I’ve just retired from advertising, and I’m going to take Masters Studies in Anthropology. I’m starting in the art scene all over again.
This was the artist statement for the exhibit “Impakto” in 1999 at Ayala Museum where the works I’m submitting were part of:
Aswang. Tikbalang. Tiyanak. Mangkukulam. Sirena. Kapre. Engkanto. Nuno sa Punso.
We are afraid of them. They are our nightmare, these creatures of darkness. Mga IMPAKTO - the entities of nature: the mountains, forests, rivers, seas and the underground.
We are very afraid of them. They are the forces of unexplainable malevolence. We create devices to counter them. We appease them with offerings. We ask permission to enter their domain: “Tabi-tabi po! They serve as social controls, guardians of nature.
We are very very afraid of them. They harm us and make us ill.
But perhaps they are more afraid of us! We do more harm to their world. For the past 100 years, we have destroyed about 75% of their forests. We wrecked havoc on their mountains and coral reefs. We continue to poison their rivers, lakes and seas.
Who should be more afraid, us or them? Sino ang IMPAKTO, sila o tayo?
- Born: Badoc, Ilocos Norte
- Based: Quezon City, Philippines