1. Tell us about your career – what are you doing now, what is it like and what do you enjoy the most about it?

I am a visual artist working in different media, from drawing and photography to textiles and installation. I have been exhibiting internationally since I graduated from my MA at the Royal Academy of Arts in 2012. Recently, I have had solo exhibitions at the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art in Sydney, Art Basel Encounters in Hong Kong and Silverlens, the gallery that represents my work in Manila.

I have a studio in South London at Gasworks, a non-profit contemporary arts organisation. I have also recently become one of their trustees. Gasworks not only offers long-term studios to London-based artists but also has an exhibitions programme and a residency programme for international artists. There is a dedicated three-month residency for Filipino artists and Gasworks has already hosted Martha Atienza and Cocoy Lumbao.

My working days, as you can imagine, are pretty varied but I try and maintain eight-hour working days in the studio. Days become longer when I’m working towards an exhibition. I also do some teaching as a visiting lecturer at the Royal College of Art and Goldsmiths University. 

2. Why did you choose the UK as a study destination?

My aunt, the painter Pacita Abad, told me I had to leave the Philippines and travel if I really wanted to be an artist. At that time, one of her assistants had just started studying at Glasgow School of Art and she told me to check out their BA programme. I knew I wanted to go to the UK and Glasgow, being a more manageable city that London, seemed like a perfect fit.

3. What programme did you take and what drew you to this programme?

It was initially the architecture that drew me to the BA (hons) Painting and Printmaking course at Glasgow. The opportunity to have a studio inside Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s building was a huge draw. For my MA at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, not only did it have a great reputation but also, it was and remains the only free Masters of Fine Art programme in the UK with a stipend. Getting in was really difficult as they only accept 16 artists per year, so I was very fortunate to have been given a place, not to mention a studio right in the heart of Piccadilly.

4. What’s the number one lesson you learned in your programme that you still carry with you today?

Work ethic is important. Don’t romanticise what you do too much.

5. What’s your best memory in the UK while you were studying?

I met my wife Frances at the Vic, our student union at Glasgow School of Art.

6. How did your experience in the UK change the way you see and understand art?

I think the exposure to so many different artistic practices and the opportunity to view so many key works of art has broadened my view point of what contemporary art can do and what it can be. Studying and living in Glasgow at such a pivotal moment when so many artist-run initiatives were flourishing in the city also gave me an amazing sense of possibility. Artists that I initially saw exhibiting works in people’s bedrooms were nominated for the Turner Prize a few years later. 

7. Which artist from the UK would you say influences you the most?

There isn’t one British artist that I can say influences my work but I admire artists like Jeremy Deller, Cornelia Parker and Cathy Wilkes.

8. If you were to take us to the most inspirational place in the UK, where would it be?

The Victoria and Albert Museum.

9. What’s your number one tip to survive an arts course?

Know when to listen to people’s opinions on your work and when to disregard them.

10. What are your ambitions for the future?

I want to keep doing what I do. Exhibiting and travelling all over the world. 

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