four years as an artist

I was always afraid to call myself an artist when I was younger. I was writing all the time and I definitely had ambitions but I had such high regard for artists and what they do that I was not ever going to call myself one until I felt that I had earned that right. Prior to 2013, I always said that I “was trying to be an artist.” I could never call myself that. I felt that I didn’t have that right.

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Cherie Gil as Regina Cadena in Sonata

In 2013, I wrote Sonata and it felt right. What I was able to accomplish and how the film turned out gave me the push that I needed to really take stock of what I had been able to do. I had to realign the way I looked at myself and I made a conscious effort to be fair. Sonata was an achievement. In that script were parts of me, parts of my life, and parts of the lives of other people and I wove these pieces together and imagined this story about healing, and forgiveness, and of coming home.

In 2014, I was asked to write the script of T’yanak and in that script I explored things that frightened me. I allowed myself to be confrontational, which I’m not in real life, but I had to be for the character of Madie (played by Solenn Heussaff), who has to confront her future sister-in-law Julie (Judy Ann Santos) that her adopted child might actually be a monster. I brought myself to a place I never thought I could, and to be honest, I still cannot do. But at least I was able to through Madie.

In 2015, I got to work on No Filter and No Filter 2.0. As one of the head writers and the dramaturge, I was there assisting the director and the cast and talented pool of writers in putting together the play and doing my part in helping that production take flight. This was my most technical work, to date, as I had to safe guard the process from losing its way as the director and cast went to explore all the possibilities. Here, I felt I served best as an anchor and port, to bring us back to our original intention should we have gone too far off course. Other times, I would be tasked to find the rational for a particular creative impulse and make it permissible if it was outside our original framework.

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Curtain call for the press preview of No Filter 2.0 — the cast and crew and artistic team got up on stage to take a bow

In 2016, I wrote Tabang. In the short film, I found myself at play. It was an ambitious concept that intrigued me and fascinated me but I had no personal stake in it unlike all the other projects I had mentioned above. This was a work of pure imagination and technique and it was an opportunity for me to include my love for poetry into a narrative form. This was me, creating a statement or a declaration, through a short film.

And now, before the year ends, I find myself with a new work that I am attached to and I am so proud of. The pilot episode of the web series Hanging Out premiered yesterday at A Space in Greenbelt and the team told me that the episode was well-received and I am so happy about this. For some reason, I feel so deeply connected to this project. I was with the team in developing the story but my tangible contribution is the script for the second episode. I can’t wait for you all to see this web series.

Tomorrow, the first episode will be available online and I’m just so excited to hear the feedback and to learn from this. This is so exciting for me and new. The whole project has the same energy and atmosphere of No Filter and No Filter 2.0. We are all so unsure of what we want out of this and we all have our different reasons for doing this but we know we have to do it and we all poured our hearts and souls into this project.

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Jox Gonzales and Paulito del Mundo in a scene from the first episode of Hanging Out (taken from the Instagram of our director Petersen Vargas @awarewolves)

I look at all the projects I’ve written above and its a small body of work but I can say that I’m proud of each one. I’m slowly building my portfolio and I can see a thin line that threads the work together. Eventually, I’m hoping, that as it gets larger and larger, that a more pronounced voice emerges from this.

But this is the resume of a young artist. I am beginning. I can call myself an artist and not be afraid of the sound of that word ascribed to my name.

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