Interview: Suku, New Sun Artistry

suku art

Christian Cabuay
How and when did get started with Baybayin?

Christine Balza
My father was in the US AirForce, we had been stationed at Clark AFB in 1976-79 where I attended Lily Hill Jr High on the base. We studied Filipino Culture and aside from the general information we were introduced to ancient history. Including a brief description on our ancient script, Baybayin. Over the years I had glimspes of it on tattoos that family and friends proudly adorned. I carried a print out of the script and a deep curiousity of how it worked. With the internet I had been able to teach myself the basics.

Mixing Baybayin with my crafts… I made my sister a pendant for Mother’s Day(which said “Ina”)and it caught the eye of one of the tshirt vendors at a street fair and I followed my heart…

Christian Cabuay
Suku is pretty spiritual, do you think Baybayin has other aspects to it besides being a writing system?

Christine Balza
Suku is the name of a sun god of Mt. Arayat. I found a personal connection to this mythical story and the aspects of keeping harmony and balance in our lives.

There is strong spitual nature of the Philippine Island and our people. I have experienced first hand the mystical energies while living in the PI and here in the States. There is a common theme shared within the Filipino culture. I enjoy nothing more then hearing these stories from friends and family.

For me, Baybayin represents the energy of a lost civilization. Our ancestors were spitual, resourceful and intelligent people. This link to our origins is an validation to our strong character.

Adding Baybayin to what was a once a pastime and a clever gift idea has thrived with a life of its own.

Christian Cabuay
Most people (Filipinos included) don’t know about the script. What have you been doing in trying to educate? Are you focused on the Filipino community or are you also reaching out to the art community?

Christine Balza
I often meet people who haven’t heard of Baybayin. Many are my elders. Even my mother and father didn’t know about it.

It’s stirring an interest in people that is a challenge. Thanks to the internet and websites like yours that shed a light on Baybayin.

Educating the Filipino community comes easily at the fiestas and street fairs. I have held workshops at the Bayanihan Center in Vallejo, CA. I hope to spark enough interest to fill my workshops with participants.

The next workshop will be on May 16th @ 5pm at 5th Annual Asian Heritage Street Celebration located
in front of the Asian Art Museum on Larkin Street near McAllister.

I’m sure that I will be reaching out to a different crowd on May 16th as this festival encompasses the Asian Community.

An article was written in the Vallejo Times Herald by Lanz Christian Bañes which was picked up by a local news station, CBS 5. They will be filming the May 16th workshop @ 5pm and Sharon Chin will interviewing myself along with some participants attending the workshop. This event will reach out to a huge audience and the prospects are endless.

I will give whatever information I have to anybody who is interested in learning. Much of what I know about Baybayin is from the internet, my understanding of it is very basic and I’m eager to learn as much I can.

Christian Cabuay
How do you feel about modified Baybayin with the cancellation kudlit and modern Baybayin with extra characters to fill in the new Filipino alphabet? I’ve come across some folks who say using anything other than traditional Baybayin is colonial mentality.

Christine Balza
Wow, good question… I tend to lean towards the traditional script because it’s easier, but I use the modification when requested.

I found that learning the rules to write in the tradition Baybayin was challenging enough. I still read it like a child and sometimes find it difficult with out knowing the content of the writer or without the literal translation. Many people want to have Anglo Saxon words translated by the closest phonitical sound. It then becomes necessary to use the crossed kudlit. Is that a matter of preference, consumer needs, or sellout? The question is left up to core beliefs with the individual.

However, even modern Tagalog words has been modified and changed to accommodate Spanish and/or Tanglish. We as residents of the planet Earth have been going though different phase of “colonization” for generations. Reaping the discomfort and benefits of the progression of human transformation or rather, change is necessary and it is to be accepted.

How can we avoid the colonial mentality? That’s a bit like not eating Spam and Rice….

Christian Cabuay
How’s business as a cultureprenuer? Your core products are jewelry but I see that you now have expanded to paintings?

Christine Balza
In this time of recession I am fearful that I won’t be able to rise above the tide but I am hopeful and continue to do what I love.

I am always trying new mediums. Water colors are so much fun and an easy resource to get a hold of. Aside from the ceremic jewelry that I show online I have some silver, natural bamboo and shell pieces that I have embellished with Baybayin. I’m currently trying to figure out the magic of fused glass…

Thank you for this spot light!

Christian Cabuay
Thanks for your time. Anything else you want to add? Shoutouts?

Christine Balza
I really appreciate the love and support you and others in the Baybayin circle have shown to me. I feel so blessed to have these experiences!

Thank you to my husband’s encouragement and my children’s inspiration! Without my art… Momma’s not happy and if Momma’s not happy… nobody is happy!

Christine Balza

2 thoughts on “Interview: Suku, New Sun Artistry

  1. Pingback: Fiesta Filipina event photos : not Alibata

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