What a hot mess! In 2009 there was a recession in the US and I lost my day job. I cut expenses and reinvested back into my young venture. I tried a bunch of shit to see what resonated with myself and people. Trial and many errors during this time. I also took side contract gigs managing customer service for a startup and process consulting for a finance company. It was tough starting something new in the middle of all the challenges. 10 years later, we’re faced with something worst. Through this, I’m seeing folks innovate and move forward accepting the reality that will create a better tomorrow for themselves and community. Keep pushing forward
There are some schools of thought where the cultural practice is above everything. I disagree – The people should be above the practice as it’s them who decide if you’re a cultural practitioner in the first place. Sure, you can practice by yourself or with your circle friends. However, that goes against the mission of every practitioner whose ultimate goal is to save and pass on an endangered culture. The people can shut down your practice by disowning you.
That’s not to say do whatever the hell people want, but people are complex. Changing all the time, not changing, stuck in toxic ways, happy, sad, going back, etc. You get the idea. These are attitudes and emotions that a cultural practitioner has to deal with. I can see how it can be a physical and emotional drain to deal with people with their uninformed comments on Instagram. It’s especially gut-wrenching if you’re not a people person or introvert. That’s where the beauty of a diverse circle comes into play. You’ll need someone in your circle that has these people skills. Someone savvy to the everchanging modern youth culture that can communicate clearly with compassion. A solo cultural practitioner is not sustainable.
An example of being about the people, not the practice is today. Right now, as I’m typing this in Grammarly, the Coronavirus is wreaking havoc in all our lives. Even if you think this is all bullshit being perpetuated by the “Fake news media” guided by the invisible Illuminati, the reality is that people are concerned. The fear may not even be specifically about themselves or their family getting sick, but the fear of the interruption of their daily lives. The very real effects of the socio-economic situation require compassion no matter what the root cause is. Manufactured or not. Childcare, jobs, health, are real concerns right now.
Personally, I’ve been affected by 3 events canceled with 4 more possibly affected. The 3 cancellations resulted in significant monetary losses. Yes, I’m disappointed, but if I abide by “People, not the practice,” I understand. On the other side, some culture bearers make their living servicing people, so they’re affected as well. I’m privileged enough that I have a backup for situations like this. I’ll go into planning for culture bearers in another post. Address the elephant in the room. Stay safe
If you’ve been in your game for at least a year and haven’t knowingly been canceled by anyone, you’re playing it too safe. I’m a big believer in experimentation. It leads to new ideas that you wouldn’t get while sitting still. You must learn how to disrupt yourself before someone disrupts you.
While it might hurt being canceled, try to understand why if possible.
Being canceled leads to some of the following understandings:
- Strong opposition to your view on a specific subject.
- What if you’re wrong?
- Did the canceller provide you with new ideas?
- How did it make you feel?
One memorable cancelation was a couple of years ago, I was running what’s called an A/B split testing experiment on IG stories. A/B testing is a method of comparing two versions of a message or product app against each other to determine which one performs better.
If I remember correctly, the subject was around how people question the impracticality of cultural practices. How to make writing pre-Philippine script, tattooing, weaving, Kali, etc as your source of income. and comparing it to everyday “practical” Philippine endeavors like Duterte’s war on drugs and bleaching one’s private parts in hopes to attract a mate for a better life. Except I didn’t say private parts. I wanted to test a racy message vs a safe one. That resulted in using Vagina vs Pussy. During the safe post 24 hour period, the responses were meh. The racy one got better engagement and one reply that was disappointed with my choice of words. I went back and forth with them to understand more. For some reason, I felt compelled to let them in on my experiment. Let’s just say they weren’t happy and felt personally manipulated. I was quickly blocked, AKA canceled!
I’ve been doing A/B tests for years testing what email subjects, graphics, models, and what apparel generates more sales. This was the first time I had strong feedback on one of my tests. I like to think that most people that follow my work know that I joke around, provoke, and experiment. Obviously, not all know. I believe that if you brand yourself an experimenter, you might be able to get out of some sticky situations in the future.
At around 102 years old, the beloved Apo What Od, aka the oldest mambabatok (tattoo practitioner) in the Philippines, will eventually pass away. I’ll admit that thinking of this and even writing about it can seem like a downer, but as someone fascinated with death, I couldn’t help think about what might happen. This will kick-off a ripple effect around the “Filipino” tattoo industry, cultural practitioners, social media, and government. Here are my predictions on what will happen.
- People will post their pictures with Whang Od along with their tattoos telling stories of their trip.
- Tribute portrait artwork all over social media and murals.
- The enterprising will sell shirts with her image with symbols popular in Buscalan. Then people will call them out for capitalizing on her death.
- There will be endless news programs and mini-docs on TV telling the same story over and over.
- Grace and Elyang will be elevated and continue the tattoo tourism in Buscalan. The trips to the province will slow-down, causing the local economy to decline. This will force Grace and Elyang to do more work in Manila, where the money is.
- The younger tattooists, like Joanne, will take on more of the workload to fill the gap.
- Machine tattoo artists start to tattoo patterns found in Buscalan. A few will attempt to hand-tap using the souvenir tools.
- A book will be written about Whang Od by someone from UP
- She will get some government recognition other than the Dangal ng Haraya.
- A practitioner named Piper of Atawu Tattoo Tradition from Cebu will be more recognized.
- Some Fil-Ams will return home to continue and evangelize traditional tattooing. This will include educating about patterns in different parts of the Philippines and how they relate to our cousins in the Pacific. This person will also gather current hand-tappers outside Kalinga and teach them how to make traditional tools with boar’s tusk. When that happens, they’ll be called fake, cultural appropriators, and not even a real Filipino.
- There will be a showbiz tribute on a Sunday show complete with dancers painted with patterns.
- The flashboard currently used will expand to Korean Hangul characters.
- There will be a white guy that will specialize in hand-tapped Kalinga patterns.
- The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines will declare the popular designs and the 3 dot signature as the property of the Kalinga tribe.
- With the increasing number of people attempting to hand-tap, the government will implement a law that only allows it practiced in Kalinga or limits the practice.
- People will get mad about this post because they think that it’s negative and may have somehow contributed to her death.
- There will be a movie about Whang Od portrayed by a Mestiza…Oh wait, there was a TV show that already did that.
I’m back on the Blog after a couple of years to discuss death and disruption. I’ve always been fascinated with death. One of my early childhood memories was watching a VHS tape of Faces of Death. I was a compilation of clips of people getting into accidents, beheadings, etc. You know, normal stuff you see on the internet now. Back then, it was more of a shock factor.
As I got older, I became interested in dying cultures in Africa and Asia. It was natural I would somehow connect death with Philippine cultural practices. My first instance was a section of my Intro to Baybayin book in 2009, where I had a section titled “The Death of Baybayin.” About four years later, I was taking part in a Super Bowl street fair. After talking to about 50 people and explaining the basic script history, it wasn’t resonating. Maybe it was my voice or lack of eye contact. Maybe it was the story I was telling. It was then; I decided to experiment with using a strong absolute term like DEATH. Death is a bulldozer that forces conversations. I learned when you use strong terms; you get strong reactions with strong emotions. Strong emotions cause action. Action kicks Idea’s ass all day long. Death = Action
Scripts have frequent exposure in news programs, social media, and even movies. New advocates have popped-up in the Philippines to expose scripts to a new generation.
For years, I, along with others, have championed the term Baybayin kill the erroneous Alibata term. Now it’s time to kill the term Baybayin. This will be a much more difficult task because there isn’t an obvious replacement…yet but maybe there shouldn’t be. As a refresher, Baybayin is a term that means to spell. It’s not a name but a description of an action. Maybe there shouldn’t be a name, and it should be called whatever the term is for writing/spelling in someone’s local language. More on this on another article. The timing of this also coincides with the recent activity around the National Script Act AKA the Baybayin Bill.
As I mentioned above, Action beats Ideas. Here are my action items:
– Move the Baybayin.com blog domain under blog.Kabuay.com. I’ll keep the domain as a landing page because people will still use the search term. I did something similar with an Alibata domain landing page.
– Acknowledging the issues with the term when conducting lectures similar to what I’ve done with prePhilippine and preFilipino.
– Get rid of the Baybayin School branding in my upcoming BalaySchool.org project.
Baybayin is dead, long live Baybayin
7/29 at the Bayanihan Center in SF
For just a $10-20 donation learn about FIVE different art forms from some phenomenal Bay Area, SF based Pinoy artists:
12 – 1 · Baybayin with Kristian Kabuay
Workshop on the native ancient writing system, Baybayin
1 – 2:30 · Improv with Aureen Almario & Joe Cascasan
An intro to the art of improvisation ~ the exploration of “letting go of fear” & group collab AND Sketch Comedy with Granny Cart Gangstas Sketch comedy writing workshop with the all-female sketch comedy group Granny Cart Gangstas
2:30 – 3:30 · Eskrima with Gregory Manalo
Learn the basics of Maestro Sonny Umpad’s Visayan Style Corto Kadena Eskrima System
3:30 – 5 · Comic Storytelling with Raf Salazar
Watch a special comics demo, and learn about storytelling through the art of comics with group exercises
This is for a pilot monthly Baybayin workshops. This initial session will be two parts: 1) “An Introduction to Baybayin” covering an overview of the script history to the modern context and 2) A hands-on activity with an in-depth overview of characters and techniques.
While the topic will be geared towards beginners, those who already know how to write the basics will learn my systematic techniques on strokes, teaching and transliterating.
At the end of the session, you’ll learn about:
- The basic history of the script
- How the script is being used today
- How to write the basic characters
- A technique that allows you to quickly translate words
- A workbook
- Calligraphy pen
I’ll be back at the Asian Art Museum in SF 3/5 & 3/6 for a large scale#baybayin performance with my kulintang friends (Kulintronica & Titania Buchholdt) playing while I write. I’ll also have art on display and short talk. This is a collaboration with international Japanese calligraphy artist Aoi Yamaguchiwho’ll have taiko drumming. You won’t want to miss this!
Here’s an interview I gave last November with a local San Francisco Asian TV network. I talked about my personal story, event producing, Baybayin, cultural advocacy, art, etc
Here we go again! After calling out the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines in my blog post, it made the rounds of social media and mainstream news. ABS-CBN, Philstar, When in Manila, thousands of views, netizens comments on the IPOPHL FB page. I myself took part of the fun until I was banned by them 😦 At least I got a rating in. They can’t delete those. So with all that news coverage and comments, they had to make a statement and in typical lawyery fashion, they did and boy was it typical of the cancer that eats at Philippine government.
Here’s the PDF if you want an “official” copy. Apparently you have to release it on PDF to be official. Now let’s breakdown the 2 last points. You can watch the video below for my reaction to the whole thing below…more on that later.
– Baybayin characters are commonly used as in the logos of several government agencies such as the National Museum, National Library, NCCA, AFP and others.
– Baybayin is an ancient script, and no one has the exclusive right to use it.
First of all, so what if Baybayin is used on several government agencies. What is the point? Did they steal their logos from a designer? All their logos are original artwork. How does that justify stealing?
The 2nd point is where I didn’t expect them to go because even a child knows that if they create artwork using ANY writing system, they know it’s their personal creation. It’s also the same language Walker Underwear used to justify stealing my IP (artwork).
They mentioned “ancient” so does that mean that if it wasn’t, it would be OK? What’s their definition of ancient or did they just get that from somewhere else? They forgot that they’re dealing with Baybayin experts. For arguments sake, let’s say that it’s true that nobody can claim IP for Baybayin because it’s an ancient writing system no matter if they designed art based on the characters in illustrator or painted them. Using IPO’s same definition, the roman alphabet is also an ancient script so anything created using it as a base for the artwork cannot be claimed as IP. What does that now say about the logo for Shoe Mart? Is it not protected because nobody has the exclusive rights to the roman alphabet?
Here’s something I created for a Surf Company. The Baybayin says Lakas. Because Baybayin is an ancient script, it’s not my intellectual property and anyone can copy the artwork on the shirt and use it for commercial purposes?
Can people also use the SM logo and make products with it? Hell no! They would protect roman alphabet design to death but since they themselves stole a Baybayin based design, it’s OK for others to do so. Because IPO doesn’t know shit about Baybayin, they treat is differently. They’re basically saying that they will protect the roman alphabet but not Baybayin. How colonial minded can you get? The issue isn’t Baybayin but the artwork created from Baybayin. Get it? prePhilippine script design, typography, art and etc have to be protected the same way the roman alphabet would be. IPO was recently one of the organizers of a jewelry competition. Since nobody owns the rights to precious metals and stones, are their creations not intellectual property? Their logic is extremely flawed.
I do have to thank IPO though for getting me annoyed enough to take action and finally get my new podcast up and running. It’s called Stinky Fish podcast named after my upcoming documentary, Sulat ng Malansang Isda. IPO is definitely a Stinky Fish. Future podcasts will probably be audio only because video takes too long to edit 🙂
Here’s a Dropbox link as mentioned in the video to some of the evidence including concept designs presented, an invitation as a Baybayin resource speaker and timestamps. Want more evidence? Wait for John Leyson to drop the bomb soon.
The sad part as I read though all the hundreds of comments about this issue is that Filipinos aren’t surprised this happened. They’re used to theft, corruption, and being let down.
PS: Ticao Masbate Rizal stone was correct 🙂 My prediction of this Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines issue is that it will go to trial and IPO will win because of corruption.
PSS: The way IPO handled the issue shows how backwards thinking they are. You never delete comments! It shows your weakness and pisses off the people even more. Don’t be anonymous cowards. Sign your stupid PDF statement and let the public know who’s in charge. Also, don’t let your dumb employees comment on the issue praising where she works and giving you a 5 star rating while pretending to be a regular person. Below is a screenshot of Szn Crd defending IPO and rating 5 stars. Thanks to 龍瀧幽歌 from Baybayin discussion group on FB. That’s free advice. No charge.