I was born in 1984 in Quezon City, Metro Manila. My parents are both artists. My dad Danilo Garcia is an abstract visual artist. My mother Lolita Garcia is an educator. She was a visual communications and fine arts professor at the University of the Philippines at Dilliman. It was natural that I picked up the arts. I started with pencil and Crayola crayons. My parents did not want an artist’s life for me because it is difficult especially in the Philippines. They’d hide my pens and pencils because I was drawing ninja turtles. Ninja turtles made me want to draw! My mom said “Uh-oh.” They wanted to stop me but they could not. When they saw that my passion for art was unstoppable, they introduced me to Fernando Cena. They took me to a class every Sunday at The Heart Center, a kind of hospital. The lessons took place in their big hall and it was there that I learned the foundations of art. Although my father definitely influenced my work ethic, his abstract style of art is his own. I am more drawn to traditional fine arts.
In terms of content, I draw social justice art. I was almost 17 years old when I left the Philippines. Since my mom was a professor, I would see students drawing on placards messages like “No to Student Hikes!” I wondered why they were writing that. What was going on? I began to comprehend the balance of society in the Philippines through the perspective of students’ protests and activity. They opened my eyes and made me question things. My mom also helped me develop that social consciousness.
At the end of high school, I won an art contest in which the grand prize was a full scholarship to a fine arts school in Texas set up by a Lion’s club. One week after I graduated, I took the art exam in high school to qualify for the University of the Philippines in Fine Arts. That very day, my mother told me, ”Oh yeah, you’re flying to Texas, America, in one week.” I was totally taken by surprise by the news. I didn’t even get a chance to properly say goodbye to my friends. My initial experience in Texas was complete culture shock. I barely spoke English. After a couple of weeks, I told my parents that I wanted to move to L.A. where I could attend vocational school and also link up with my father’s college friends. And that is when I met the chair of Habi Arts, Danilo “PAPO” De Asis in early 2001.
Under De Asis’ influence, I returned to the questions that began with my exposure to the students from the Philippines. I began to connect that history to the present. What is really going on in the Philippines? Papo showed me everything. I realized things about the Philippines that I didn’t know when I was actually there. Many years later in 2012, Habi Arts co-curated my solo art exhibition “Kiskisan” which means "to clash.” In this exhibition and my art in general, I try to show the richness of the struggle and history of the Philippines.
- Born: Quezon City, Philippines
- Based: Los Angeles, CA, USA