"The Philippines isn't something you can just whip up every time you feel the need for some identity or when it's convenient or when you need to be creative or critical. You can't just choose the parts you like. You love her with all you are, contribute to her well-being, and you wrestle with that love constantly. And both of you always win or both of you always lose every fight. Because you are her, and she, you."
This is a space about all things Pilipinas. But mostly about social development issues, civil society and citizen engagement, culture and heritage, and similar topics that capture the writer's attention. It is also a space where individuals who make worthwhile contributions to Philippine society are featured and celebrated. Because there is power in sharing good stories. Because there is power in community. Dahil ang Pilipinas ay ikaw at ako.
Myta Santiago: Culture, History, and Art
1. What is it that you do with passion, conviction, and determined purpose? Why do you do it? (This doesn’t have to be your day job, of course.)
» First off, my passions revolve around Philippine history, ethnic culture, and art in general. I’m actually a varied artist because my mother is a painter and a frustrated draftsman — she lets me dabble in all kinds of art, but I’m more adept in writing and photography; these have become passions as well. Now, what do I do with this passion? I share it with other people. I don’t want to be selfish and use big words and scholarly ways of getting my point across. Since I am in love with history, arts, and culture, I share my love. This passion diverts me from mediocrity — and it brings me closer to the god I believe in (I’m Catholic, if that is important to know).
But my real cause is deeper than finding a diversion. I’ve noticed that our youths have become blind to art, culture, and history. They take everything and they don’t filter out what is truth and what is fiction. They believe that art is for the rich, when art stems from all walks of life! At the same time, children living in Manila do not know what lies beyond the city, or what treasures lay within the city. From my childhood until today, it is a contagious social illness. My writing, from simple expression of opinion, has turned into a small propaganda to re-educate children of the diversity, the historical richness, and the artistic genius of the Filipino people. This is why I write: I write to educate. This passion of mine is part of the “cultural revolution” I believe should be happening right now, and it has to start with teaching everyone about the Philippines.
2. When and how did you know about this passion of yours? Was there a person who influenced you? If so, who and how?
» I’ve always had a love for indigenous people and history, though through standardized schooling, I almost forgot about them. I’ve always been immersed in art, and I consider myself as a student of the Cubism movement. However, when I started becoming more serious about my passions I was a senior in college. An event, not a person, inspired me. I was on an immersion trip to an Aeta community in Capas, Tarlac, and at the same time I was also taking Cultural Heritage classes under Fernando Zialcita. I did not realize it then, but I was returning to the things I love, and I regained my passion for all things culture. I just put two and two together.
It was not in senior year, technically, that I became more aware of what I used to love. It was actually way back in 2007, when I was a college freshman. I joined an org called Ateneo Lingua Ars Cultura (ALAC), and because of that org I became a student leader and my passion for the arts and culture grew. Since then I slowly began to remember my love for other cultures, but I used the org as an output. I blogged on typepad and wordpress but I didn’t really enjoy the blogging experience there, and during my senior year, I registered on Tumblr. This account is actually my third one since the first one was deleted by some hacker, and I had to leave the second one since I had a falling-out with a once-friend who I met on the site.
3. Who/What are your current influences, role models, inspirations?
» Influential people? My mom, of course. Being a retired filmmaker, painter, frustrated draftsman and frustrated architect, she really made sure that I am exposed to art as much as possible. Then my professors in university: Irwin A. Cruz (who taught me Cross Cultural Communication) and Fernando N. Zialcita (who taught me Intro to Cultural Heritage and Culture and the Senses). Persons such as Manning Garchitorena (PR Head or something of The Peninsula) who instructed me to take Spanish at the age of three or four, and Sonia Ner, a historian and lover of art. Online, of course, There’s iwriteasiwrite, ellobofilipino, and panchodelaluna.
My role models are the latter three. I wish to be more like them, more enlightened, and more cultured (and more intelligent!). The Philippines herself inspires me. Whenever I look out the window or step outside, I always feel that I’ll be on a great adventure. There’s so much inspiration emanating from the country, and I always see it. I see so much beauty here.
Panchodelaluna is most influential in how I conceptualized my blog. The title and its description came from an article he wrote for me recently. However the three bloggers are equal in terms of inspiring me to continue writing.
Other influences would be Andre Malraux, Picasso, William Henry Scott, Gandhi, and Wade Davis.
What inspires me… first of all it’s the Philippines (for apparent reasons), art in all its forms, beauty, and love. Really. I am not kidding.