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Articles tagged “Philippines

A Wizard in Oz

Posted on June 4, 2017

Kitt Santos

Illustrator and UX Designer, AUSTRALIA

Let’s start with your name — what’s the story there?

If you were born in the ’80s or ’90s, you might be familiar with David Hasselhoff’s series, Knight Rider. His superpower car’s name is where my mum got my name from. (As in, Knight Industries Two Thousand — an autonomous car with a mind of its own.)

What do you do and where do you live currently?

I would like to say I do design mostly, but — in reality — I do all sorts of creative stuff from painting and illustrating to sculpting, and other crafts.

I am currently based in Canberra, a three-hour drive south-west of Sydney. It’s a pretty quiet city, mostly a network of suburbs, surrounded with majestic landscapes.

And how long have you been living and working in Canberra?

I have been living and working in Canberra for almost a year now, and it has been great so far.

You’ve had quite a journey; you’ve been living and working in different cities — big ones — away from your home country. Was this a lifelong dream of yours? What has the ride been like?

When I “quit” architecture and decided to venture into other creative disciplines, I struggled with making connections with other creatives in my own country. It was quite challenging to introduce yourself in a very tight-knit community where everyone knows each other. That was part of my motivation to move out and make a start somewhere.

In hindsight, living and working in a different country only became a dream for me when I immersed myself in a different culture, and realized that the possibility of going places further was within arms reach.

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Bambike’s Revolution

Posted on September 8, 2013

replanting bamboo

Bryan Benitez McClelland, PHILIPPINES

Social Entrepreneur and Founder, BAMBIKE

“If there’s a wheel, there’s a way,” as some like to use the pun. In the case of Bryan Benitez-McClelland, he took the wheel, as well as one of the most resilient trees on the planet, and started a revolution. His socio-ecological enterprise, Bambike, produces bicycles made from bamboo, and its mission goes beyond the retail business of selling specialised, custom-built bicycles to an elite market. The brand is built on a set of core values (people, planet, progress) with the earnest intention of providing solutions to some of the Philippines’ biggest problems: environmental degradation, transportation and mobility, poverty and under-utilised manpower. Using the bicycle, bamboo technology, and business, Bambike reorients how we look at consumerism and entrepreneurship in relation to the community. This is not the first time bamboo was used for lifestyle products or for innovative sustainable solutions in the country, but it’s definitely speeding things up on the road to change.

What was the idea behind Bambike?

I moved back to the Philippines in 2007, after completing my Masters in Environmental Resource Management focused on Sustainable Community Development at the University of Pensilvania. My attention was drawn to Gawad Kalinga, a community development program in the Philippines. I was interested in a project that would make a positive impact in the country. It all started as a volutourism type of project to help Gawad Kalinga create a green building program. Back in the states, I was a whitewater kayak instructor, and I didn’t see much of that here, so I seized the opportunity and started Rapid Stream Ecotours, my first business endeavour in ecotourism development. My interest wasn’t merely in starting a business to make money.

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Collectible Anthropology

Posted on May 12, 2013

Charisse

Charisse Aquino-Tugade, Philippines

Anthropologist, Cultural Explorer, Founder of The Manila Collectible Co.

Weaving through the cobble-stoned streets of what was once a fortress-city, I wondered how I would be able to spot The Manila Collectible Co (TMCC). Its home, tucked within an enclave of Spanish colonial shops and galleries and sitting behind the iconic Manila Cathedral in Intramuros, is a charming, light-coloured baroque building with a little signage bearing the name, Villa Blanca. I had the privilege of interviewing its founder and owner, Charisse Aquino-Tugade, an anthropologist and cultural travel guide who was happy to share the story behind her shop and advocacy with Open Brief.

What is the story behind The Manila Collectible Co.?

My background is in anthropology and I’ve always been really crazy about our (Filipino) indigenous cultures and history. As a cultural travel guide, I would organise tours and go on expeditions to various parts of the country. The Philippines is so rich with artistry, ingenuity and craftsmanship, all of it deeply rooted in multi-cultures and history. Yet, (I noticed) not everyone really knows much about these artisans and craftsmen and what they create. By everyone, I mean, most of their own fellow countrymen. The reason for this is really geographical accessibility. Being an archipelago with over 7,000 islands, it’s just not easy to get around. Most of these indigenous artisanal communities dwell in obscure, tucked-away corners all over the islands. Their craft is a prime source of livelihood, yet how do they reach their market? How can they put a premium price on their work, when they themselves don’t actually realize the high value of their creations?

I am passionate about indigenous cultures and artisanal crafts, so I felt drawn to create a way — an actual physical space — to bridge this gap and just help make it more accessible. Also, my experience of working with museums and my love for the curative experience have shaped the concept of TCMM—which is a one-stop-shop anthropological gallery of art, crafts, and functional products for daily living, wherein everything is direct from the source and not mass produced for mass consumption.

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Photo: Dickie Neri

Staying Alive: What Moves A Country

Posted on April 26, 2013

This article is the 1st of 3 in a series entitled, Dance to Live: Decoding a Culture, which explores the intersections of dance, culture, history, and identity in the 21st century Philippine context, aiming to scratch the surface of an ever festive, ever gyrating culture and probe into the nuances and contrast with its Hispanic heritage, and its continental incongruity. This article offers an overview of the Filipino dancing culture as the world sees it, and attempts to peel the layers to reveal an ingrained permission culture.

The sun, bright and fiery than ever, burns mercilessly. Its rays seem to stretch out to the opposite poles of the earth, spreading and engulfing like wildfire. Wildfire of a tropical summer, burning as bad as it drains.

And at the heart of this noontime spotlight—of smog, traffic and road rage—is a solitary figure, with a large grin and limbs that swing, wave, and gyrate to an esoteric beat. The person is in uniform, almost-easily recognized by the general public as a traffic enforcer. A public servant. A civil officer. He looks like he’s having fun, as he twirls and beckons to one side of the thoroughfare. His hips don’t lie; you can almost hear him vocalize, as he signals to your car to move along and make it snappy.

Enveloped by thick layers of fumes, vehicles, and tension, this officer maintains his routine of standing—dancing—in the middle of the road to ease the traffic and your nerves. And so far, it seems to be effective. The decrease in horn honking is noticeable, as well as the minimized tendency for gridlocks and counter-flows, not to least mention the steadier traffic flow—perhaps not the smoothest, but nonetheless calm and cooperative.

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Hunger + Survival = Mother of Creativity

Posted on March 19, 2013

Clara

Clara Balaguer, Philippines

Founder, Office of Culture and Design

“To us, art, literature and design are not elitist luxuries. They are useful necessities.”

Clara Lobregat Balaguer is an oddball.

As she meets me for this interview, it’s not so difficult to notice that she does stand out in a crowd than it is to pinpoint why. Yes, she is rather tall compared to the average Filipina; her woven sombrero towering over everyone else makes it easy for me to spot her. She greets me with a smile, full and fiery red. I am relieved; she says she’s been stressed. She has been buried deep in work, which at the moment is in post-production for a film about an active volcano in the Philippines and the displaced indigenous people living around it.

Photo: Office of Culture & Design

Photo: Office of Culture & Design

This is just one of her hands-on projects for her company, the Office of Culture and Design (OCD), which serves as a platform for artists, writers, and designers in the developing world. That description barely sums up the OCD as a leveraging multi-platform. Based on the mixed composition of its projects, its stakeholders and the diverse range of collaborators, the Office of Culture and Design is a constantly fluid, constantly evolving entity engaged in as many diverse forms of mixed media as the opportunities it aims to create and open. And that’s the striking feature of this creative enterprise: whether it’s a book, or an art workshop, or a film documentary, there is—and always will be—a bottom line. Each creative project identifies and directly engages with its stakeholder—real people.

And without an actual label for the OCD (a social enterprise? a creative social enabler? a design thinking firm?), it is pretty much an oddball in the business world. A mixed-breed and ongoing experiment in various aspects, albeit effective—just like its founder.

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