Partial Transcript: I was fifteen my parents decided to come and move to the States. So, it was a little difficult being like fifteen when all your friends are just starting to go drinking [CW laughs] or like, you know like, everyone is starting their social lives or mixing in with the older generation and kinda trying to fit ourselves in it. Um, so… then like from then on it—my—it just felt like a little disjointed, I didn’t know the culture here. I didn’t, you know, like I-I was lucky enough that we were taught English. So like communication wasn’t that… a problem, it was more of like how do I fit myself now in a society that’s completely different, that’s like multicultural and especially like—we went straight to L.A.
Keywords: adjust; America; apartment; art class; Houston; job; L.A.; Philippines; siblings; transition
Partial Transcript: I went to go visit the Philippines last year. And one of my friends that I’ve known since high school, we were driving to a restaurant and he was like ‘Belle’ and I’m like, what. ‘Is racism, like does it actually exist?’ And the fact that he—he had to doubt it like, for me was like what? Like that’s a question? Like… to us it’s like a given because we’re living in it, we understand that it’s happening. You know, we kind of pick it up when it does happen but like for—for them that’s so different. I was—that for me was more of a culture shock than anything else.
Keywords: America; culture shock; different; disconnect; racism; reverse culture shock; sexism; Thanksgiving; Trump era
Partial Transcript: So a lot of artists, um… either have teaching jobs for like, you know, to just survive day by day. Or they go do residencies back to back ‘cause you have living space, you can—sometimes they give you a stipend and a show, and so like that’s what some people do. Like some artists do, like that’s how they survive the year. Which is a good way to do it if you love writing and, you know, have a lot of ideas I guess [laughs]. Yeah.
Keywords: Artist residency; community; connections; living space; stipend; workshop
Subjects: Artist residency
Partial Transcript: So… having experienced what it’s like—with the education you get with a bachelor’s versus the education you get as a—when you get a masters, it’s so vastly different. And I think for me, I would…ba—getting a bachelor’s degree in art is barely scratching the surface, barely. I was, I feel like I was so much more naïve… just getting a bachelor’s degree and I, if it’s something that other people want, I would highly suggest the graduate—um to get a masters. You’ll cry every day [CW and MT laugh] because it’s—it’s like so hurtful and everyone needs to say something to improve your work but it’s like ugh.
Keywords: architecture; collaboration; criticism; cry; duo; fail; knowledge; learning; painting; project; rejected; show; stress; support; work
Subjects: dealing with rejection and criticism; graduate school; growth as an artist
Partial Transcript: Like… and that’s where us Filipinos, or like minorities, we struggle with um… putting that type of work out because the—the expectation like if you’re Native American the expectation would be pottery and it’s gonna look like, you know someone with a headdress and so, that’s not really contemporary. That’s more of like, well… the—you are the stereotype. But we as artists today as, I guess a younger generation, we’re breaking all those rules of like we’re not trying to be stereotypes. I’m not painting water buffalos. I’m not painting forests. I’m not doing that, but I am referencing it. Like it’s never that far away from me, the—the titles of our show are always Filipino or like… the sort of… exploration of what that even means. Especially being out of that country and out of that culture, like what does that even mean, like, you know, like… How much of you is that and how much do you let yourself be that while also living in—as an American and, you know, trying to survive that way. So it’s— it’s like I think psychologically it’s a little, it’s… hard. It’s a lot of things to kind of face… and being female. So that I mean, you know, like there’s so much like stigma you gotta fight before you can even like say anything. You know? Like people will even like look at your work and you gotta be like… hey. I’m like all the things that are not what is expected. So, you know. It’s hard to kind of be… sometimes taken seriously, I think.
Keywords: architects; favorite artists; Filipino; Filipino art scene; images; minorities; old white males; Photoshop; president; program; traditional; Trump
Subjects: abstraction; art career; artwork; cultural influence in art; grad school; long-term goal
Partial Transcript: I used to think when I first got into this. I used to be so proud of my—like it was something, okay it’s—it’s something that I said to myself that I was like, I’m— if I—if I was just looking at something that I made, uh I’m looking at a painting. I would think… like if you didn’t know me, if you didn’t know who made it, you would think it a guy did it. And I for some reason felt proud of that—that my work looked like a male artist’s work. And… that was when I was like I didn’t really understand what that meant, that it was better somehow to be male. And so, from that, and like learning and like reading because we—we don’t know about feminism in the Philippines. There’s no feminism, it’s like not a thing we didn’t know that happened, you know, like it’s just not a thing. So, for me like I… learning about feminism and learning about my mindset about it I was like, wait why would I want that? Why would I want… why would I want my work to look like a—someone like a male did it? Or a guy did it? Like why would that make me proud? So, I think it’s more of I don’t necessarily think it’s about… trying to get success because it’s, I don’t know if I’m successful. You know like I—I don’t, I can’t deem myself successful. I can if it was from my standards, like that I love what I do and then, you know, and then like people like it sure but like I can’t really deem myself as doing it for success. But I think… being able to represent and be proud of what I do as a female and—and show it the places that I’ve shown I think it’s… those are uh like ways that I look at it.
Keywords: brother; environment; female; feminism; gender roles; goals; inform of gender on work; island; male; pride; progress; representation; role model; success; working
Subjects: Filipino artists; gender; representation
Houston Asian American Archive
Chao Center for Asian Studies, Rice University
Interviewee: Isabel Cuenca
Interviewer: Chelsey Wen, Mai Ton
Date/Time of Interview: April 20, 2019
Transcribed by: Tiffany Sloan
Audio Track Time: 1:07:48
Edited by: Tian-Tian He
Background: Isabel Cuenca was born on a small island in the Philippines andmoved with her parents to
the United States when she was fifteen years old. After about a year and a halfin America, Cuenca's
family moved to Houston, Texas. She stayed in Houston through her undergraduateyears at the
University of Houston before moving on to pursue her career as a painter. Shetraveled outside of Texas
to receive a graduate degree in art and has focused her painting career aroundthe style of geometric
abstraction. Following graduate school, Cuenca had the opportunity to completean art residency in her
home town in the Philippines which she says was a major step toward her ultimategoal: bringing her
knowledge of art back to the islands.
Setting: The interview took place in a study room at Fondren Library at RiceUniversity on April 20th,
IC: Isabel Cuenca
CW: Chelsey Wen
MT: Mai Ton
--: speech cuts off; abrupt stop
...: speech trails off; pause
(?): preceding word may not be accurate
[Brackets]: actions (laughs, sighs, etc.)
CW: Okay. Today is April 20th, 2019 [IC: Mhm]. My name is Chelsey Wen and thisis Mai Ton and we
are interviewing Isabel Cuenca [IC: Yeah]. So first could you just tell us aboutwhere you were born and
a little bit about what it was like growing up?
IC: Well I was born in the Philippines in a tiny island that looks like a sock.So, um-- I grew up in a
small city. Um, I guess everything else, everything in that area is prettysmall. Like-- you're-- you're
considered, you live in the province if you're--you know, if you live outside ofManila or, you know, the
northern part of the cit--of the country. And so-- um, very small socialcircles, very everybody knows
each other, everybody's like sort of married to each other. Um, and then when Iwas fifteen my parents
decided to come and move to the States. So, it was a little difficult being like1:00fifteen when all your
friends are just starting to go drinking [CW laughs] or like, you know like,everyone is starting their
social lives or mixing in with the older generation and kinda trying to fitourselves in it. Um, so-- then
like from then on it--my--it just felt like a little disjointed, I didn't knowthe culture here. I didn't, you
know, like I-I was lucky enough that we were taught English. So likecommunication wasn't that-- a
problem, it was more of like how do I fit myself now in a society that'scompletely different, that's like
multicultural and especially like--we went straight to L.A. Which is huge [CWand MT: Mhm.]
diversity and I just didn't understand a lot of it until later on you know, whenyou're-- in college or grad
school or something, like it's--
So, I don't know like life is different. Did you start from like knowing eachother, having a lot of friends
and growing up with the same people to having nobody? No, not necessarily2:00nobody, I had a cousin that I
was close to but that's it. Like my social circle became from like, went fromlike huge it went to like,
handful. So, it was, it was different. It was a little difficult but it's notthat bad. And, so, yeah, that's how
I grew up and that's where I'm from.
CW and MT: Okay. [IC laughs]
CW: Um-- uh, so why did your parents decide to move to America?
IC: I think it was just-- um, either, you know, like financially it was reallydifficult. Our-- our main
source of income in our island is-- um, sugar. So, the Philippines used to belike the biggest export of
sugar at some point in history, and our island, because we were so focused onthat and a lot of
developments started or like, I guess a lot of people that were interested inthat would kind of congregate
in our island. The--it-- you know, like, it-- it--it's just-- there's like a, I3:00don't know I've heard this
from my mom, but I don't know if it's true. But she said like the people thatlived there who were like the
top of that field were like the king makers, like they cho--you know they hadenough power to choose the
president or whatever of the country. So it's-- you know, it's-- it's good inthat sense but it isn't the
same since um-- since the 80s which was when--or like, I'm not sure in the 70sor in the 80s, but when
um Marcos, when our president put the whole country [CW coughs] under martiallaw and so it took the
power out of the people he didn't like and gave it to the people he did and soand then took all the wealth
from the country and then now we're like a third-world country. So, I thinkfinancially it was a little hard.
Um. I don't know, maybe they saw that if you stayed, we would just be the same.4:00You know? Like I've
been back, and I don't want to really say it, but like I feel like the peoplewho are there and especially in
my little island it's like it--they're a little stunted. Like they still--like-- like you're, you have a family
and you still love to party and [laughs] I'm like, I don't get that. Like t--thepriorities are very odd.
So, in that sense, like I'm appreciative of like moving out and I wouldn't havebeen an artist if I was
there. There's no art history there's nothing-- um maybe the most famous artistthere at the time would
have been like still Da Vinci when there's like so many more has happened sincethen and we just don't
know about it because no one really tells us. So, I remember being in an artclass and I painted like this
angel that I found, like it was another person's painting but it was-- I didn'tknow anything else. So, I
had these artistic--like art encyclopedias at home and so oh I picked this one5:00painting of an angel and I
copied it and like the next day-- like-- someone stole it? And I don't--I don'tunderstand that like I
don't understand like I don't know if like someh--like I don't like the value ofit for some reason-- was
enough to--for someone to steal it and I don't, I didn't really, I was soconfused about what that meant
when I was--it was just, you know, it was just a project. And so li--and I don'teven remember who the
artist that I copied was but, not that it was any good, I was like so young butit was just weird like
innocence that like-- just-- I don't know [laughs]. It's--it's just that's howit is, it's very weird. Yeah--
so I don't know--
CW: [laughs] Um.
IC: [laughs] I don't know if that answered your question, but--6:00
IC: I can--I can be pretty-- winded [all laugh] with my answers.
CW: Um, so, did you start painting for a very young age?
IC: No. -- Um, but uh, my mom was artistic so she did projects like she wouldmake necklaces and, you
know, she could--you know she would travel to like Bangkok and then kind ofimitate what they were
doing there and so it was more of like projects. It wasn't like we were making--we were painting picture
frames or like things you hang your keys on but I never thought-- I knew I coulddo it, like I--I guess I
kind of felt like-- I enjoyed doing something like that but I never reallythought of doing it as a
profession. Like, there was just no way. I would have been like [CW coughs], Idon't know what I would
have been if I stayed there [CW: Mm].
So, I didn't really start painting until-- college. Which, I was like maybe 22,23, and even then it was on 7:00
and off when I was trying to figure out a major it would-- you know, I got intolike, the physical
therapy and nursing you know I--and like um-- accounting and so th--it was likeeverything else but
art. So, I tried everything else but art. But I'd--for elective classes I didtake 'em and sort of figured out
what I liked and didn't like-- 'cause-- that's pretty specific too. Yeah.
CW: Um, so like when you were in the Philippines what were your parent's jobs?
IC: Um, we were um, hm-- sugar farmers like everyone there is. I mean, everyonewho has-- lineage, I
guess. So that's--that's you know [CW: Mhm]. So, for something that has been soprominent in like the
culture, you know, that's somet--that if you're--if you have a lot of land thenit's good 'cause then you
[CW: Mhm.] you can sustain yourself but if you don't have too much-- My--my dad8:00is uh one out of ten
children. [CW: Mhm.] So like, when everything got split up, and he's theyoungest [CW and MT laugh],
so not very much was left. So, it--it--it was a choice and-- he's the only onewho's here out of all ten
siblings, so that's kind of hard for him. It's a little bit better for my mom,half of her siblings are here and
half are there. But, for my dad it's just him, and so-- I don't know prettybrave I guess [laughs]. [CW:
Mhm.] It's not easy.
CW: So, when you guys moved to America, did they have difficulty finding jobs?
IC: Um, no. Um, I guess-- Kinda, kinda not because L.A. you know, um, again mymom's side of the
family she had a sister here already that helped her out and-- uh, my do--my dadgot sponsored. So, you
know, he worked pretty much right away. But for the first, maybe a year-- I was9:00living with--we were
all living with our aunt in a one-bedroom apartment with eleven people in it [CWlaughs]. So, I mean,
kind--w--very very weird and-- everyone was sleeping on the floor. You betternot go to the bathroom
at night [all laugh] 'cause you gotta step over like six people just to getthere. Like, it's crazy. It was
crazy. Like our bathroom door was broke, the toilet was always clogged, it was--it was fun and-- kind
of difficult but eventually we got our own place and so-- yeah. But that was, yeah.
MT: Um, why did you choose, like, Houston to go to?
IC: Um. About like a year and a half in to us moving here, my mom got offered ajob here [MT: Mhm.]
So then we all sort of, you know, she went ahead. She said it's good here, it'sa lot slower, and so she just
moved us all over. Um. It--it's nice because like the apartme--for me we were10:00also looking forward to it
because-- our apartment wasn't really that great. It wasn't in a greatneighborhood, there would be--
dealers coming into like the parking lot and there would be like a stabbing inthe school across the street
it's like, it's L.A. I guess. But um, [laughing] um, she--so, when theopportunity to come to Houston
came up, we were thinking about, you know, like apartment versus a home becausewe could rent a house
here for the same amount. And, you know, our neighbors downstairs wouldn't beblasting their music to
the point where our floors was like shaking all day, you know, so we were alllike yes! Let's go, you
know, and uh this like lifestyle is like crazy here in L.A. like. And thencoming here it's you know, a lot
more laid back and it's--it's--it's nice. But at some point I also wanted to11:00like get out of this [all laugh]
like it--it's slower it's you know, when you're young you're kind of-- you wantsome-- something else,
to try something else. And so, that's all part of it. I guess. So, yeah. So, mymom got a job and then we all
moved and then eventually my dad got a job and we all went to school and--college here and then grad
school I went somewhere else.
CW: Um, were there any other surprises that you had when you came to America?
IC: Hm. I think a lot. I-- I think, um-- I'm not sure if it's necessarily asurprise. Like do you, do you
have a specific like thing you're thinking of when you s--when you say that?12:00
CW: Um, no, just anything that you had to adjust to, something that wasdifferent than your previous life.
IC: I think--I think-- um-- tra--I think-- traveling on my own. -- 'cause, youknow, like well, okay, so
the difference is like in the Philippines you don't really drive yourself. Youhave, labor is cheap, so you
have a driver, you have a--you have a maid, you have someone who does yourlaundry, you have, you
know, someone who cleans your house. So-- in that sense, which helped to have acousin that, you know,
that I was with or my siblings is like trying to-- travel on our own. So like,learning bus routes, like that
stuff was different. And, you know, we spend our days in the library, 'causewhat else are we going to do?
And it was close, and we can walk or we would walk to the grocery store and--13:00not necessarily, like,
doing things for ourselves but I think-- we-- had to be a little bit moreindependent. Because again, our
parents were like working long hours and would never, you know, you would onlysee our parents at
night and they would have to leave early in the next day. So, for most of it, itwas like really independent
thinking or, you know, like kind of make plans on your own which I never reallydid before. But I think, I
don't know if that's necessarily something that's like just in the States that Iwould have experienced. I
think it's just part of growing up and just navigating, you know-- like how todo that, how to exist in this
environment or in this world or something like that.
Uh, I wouldn't, I don't know if there's anything that's really-- a culture shockper se. Maybe I can't think
of it on the top of my head, or I'm just not-- I don't--maybe I never dwelled on14:00it until I just kind of let
it go. But like eventually there were thing--like once you kind of... know, sortof social things? There
were things that would like feel a little bit more racist or, you know, like oh,maybe we shouldn't have
said that or, you know, being more aware of like cultures. Eventually that'skind of where I-- you
become a little bit more sensitive to it and try not to offend anyone which, youdon't get if you're in the
Philippines because everyone is all the same. There's no sort of racism becausethey're--we're all the
same but there is classism and all these other things. So, there's noother-ness, but here there is and so-- I
didn't even quite-- navigate that until like later, like, way later. So--
CW: And did you just learn that through practice or--
IC: I think it's a lot of like, school stuff which--I really, I love being inschool. I--I mean, I'm not the
best student [CW and MT: laugh], but I think-- I think it's, you know, maybe15:00grad school made a
difference? Or art because it's so personal and it's so, you gotta reallyreflect on yourself and, you know,
like who do you want to represent and who are you representing by default and solike you can't ignore
those things. Um, taking an Other-ness class helped which, you know, like thenyou kind of see the signs,
you kind of break down all the social issues that are promoting things that youdon't like and so, that are
not so helpful, and talking to other artists who are really socially activereally really helped, like Matt!
Matt has been more like-- he's, I feel like he's the more social of us two, andso like he, he really goes
out of his way to show up for things and talk to people and put himself outthere, and I'm like uh-- [CW:
laughs] just take me with you, you know, like just drag me along even though Idon't want to do all of
those things. So, I think-- but in--but in the same sense we're taught--we16:00understand each other that,
hey, you know, we're both this and-- we're tryna say something about it and evenif we don't want to we
are. So, like, how do we navigate that? Or how do we even like-- harness it anduse it for our advantage
as artists, as Filipinos, and you know, how do we-- um, include other people ormake them feel like this
is something that they could see themselves in, you know. Because we're notcomplete--like as much as
I'm--I feel like I'm a hermit and I don't want to leave the house, it's, I'mstill that person, I'm still
connected and with the internet we are all still connected. So, it's not acomplete like disconnect like
we're still tru--I think that's it. Like, for me I'm like always trying toconnect, but like, not always being
successful-- but-- I still have to try-- I guess this is, kind of what that is,17:00so [laughs].
Yeah, so, that stuff so when--but when you're aware it's like ugh, you know,like what do you do when
you're aware about like things that are offensive, like do you confront it, doyou--when do you confront
it, when do you not confront it and-- so-- that's that--eh the best example thatI can give in terms of like
a culture shock which is sort of a little bit of a reverse. I went to go visitthe Philippines last year. And one
of my friends that I've known since high school, we were driving to a restaurantand he was like 'Belle'
and I'm like, what. 'Is racism, like does it actually exist?' And the fact thathe--he had to doubt it like,
for me was like what? Like that's a question? Like-- to us it's like a givenbecause we're living in it, we
understand that it's happening. You know, we kind of pick it up when it doeshappen but like for--for
them that's so different. I was--that for me was more of a culture shock than18:00anything else. I'm like, of
course like when we're in the Trump era like it's so obvious, you know, likesexism is so out there. Like,
it's--I was so shocked. I was so--I'm like yes! [laughs] Like I was about to goon like a big rant about it
but I was like, no they're not gonna get it. You know, like, it's they don'thave to deal with it so it's not
really a thing but like for me it's like wow-- I can't believe that was asked,you know. So that was more
of a shock than anything else [CW: laughs]. So, yeah.
CW: Um, so do you think if you had stayed in the Philippines you would have alsonot really felt the
effects of [IC: No, for sure] of racism?
IC: For sure, like-- I--I stayed there for--oh, I did a residency at my hometown like an artist residency
and I was there for like four months, and yeah. I--I could've--I could see19:00myself like being just like
them and, you know, like we're jus--just not aware and like there's nowhere--wayto be aware so, you
know. And we're, our culture is so like we love everything American. Like, we'reFilipinos but we, for
some reason, celebrate Thanksgiving. There's no Indians there, there's nopilgrims, like why are we
celebrating an American like holiday in the Philippines? Like it doesn't makesense. Like there's, you
know, so like our love for America, our like the idea that America is some--iswhat we want to be-- it's
so like--it makes it such a--a disconnect. But they don't see that it's adisconnect because for them it's
just like oh, we like it and they're celebrating, oh, well we have, you know,friends there and they're
celebrating so we're celebrating with them. Oh, we're going to use this day to20:00be thankful. But you know,
you can be thankful every day it doesn't have to be-- so just that wanting to bebut not understanding it.
You know, like that sort of appropriation of it but like, but that's what theywant. But you to appropriate
their culture, but anyway--anyway-- that's [laughs], that's what it is.
CW: Um, so can you describe, well I don't really know what an artist residencyis or how that works--
IC: Well, yeah! Um, usually it depends on the program, there's different wayslike um usually you apply for
it, they look at your stuff, and if you get picked, um-- they give you, uh,let's say I'm in Houston and there's
a residency in um Vermont and then to--oh, I got it! Um-- they're gonna have youcome for like a month or 21:00
wha--however long the residency you applied for. Usually it's a month to likethree months
and they provide you with the space. You're in a like, you're in a farm withlike five other artists. So you
live there with them and you get your own room, and then at the end--so you havework space, you have
communication with other people, usually they want you to do a workshop for thecommunity like
whatever your specialty is. Let's say pottery, you know, you do a potteryworkshop and then-- at the
end of it you get a show. So--so then you have something, so that looks good inyour resume and all that
stuff. So, that's what a residency is.
Um, that's kind of what I did. Again, like the Philippines is a little slow,slower, so I--I was, I think his
first artist to have done it until--I think it was a big learning experience.Like I used to live there, I should
have the resources to get from my house to where the gallery is, but I don't.22:00And, you know, like and
usually when you're here you bring your own car and there's ways for you to getto your space, or you
live in the same area you're in. So that one was a little bit more, well I haveto like-- make connections
for him and how things are supposed to go. Not that I really know too much, butthat's you know like I
think it's--and then now he has a living space next to a studio space, next tothe gallery space, so it's a lot
more convenient for the artists that he is bringing in now 'cause that was likea few years ago. So, there's
a big improvement and I'm very excited, and I told them like if, you know,there's space again one of
these years like I'd love to come back and do it all over again you know? [CW:Mhm.] Yeah, so that's
what a residency is. So a lot of artists, um-- either have teaching jobs forlike, you know, to just survive
day by day. Or they go do residencies back to back 'cause you have living space,23:00you can--sometimes
they give you a stipend and a show, and so like that's what some people do. Likesome artists do, like
that's how they survive the year. Which is a good way to do it if you lovewriting and, you know, have a
lot of ideas I guess [laughs]. Yeah.
MT: Um, can you describe like how you started to get into the art world afterlike college and stuff like
IC: Um-- I think if you have-- If you decide to be an artist, and you go foryour bachelors that's great,
right? Art isn't really something you have to have a degree for to do. There's alot of artists that don't and
are very successful and there are some who do and are very successful andso--but for me, I figured I
started so late. I started in my twenties, it wasn't something I was--I knew I24:00was doing in high school or
like middle school. It was, I never dreamed about it really, um-- so-- after allthe major changing and,
you know, my parents wanting me to be secure and all these other things. Um, Ifinally decided that yeah,
I'm gonna be an artist-- um, I was applying for um, the architecture program atU of H, and so to apply
for the program you have to have a uh-- a portfolio. So the portfolio, I waslike well okay I'm gonna take
a couple art classes so I can have a portfolio and then once I got into it, theclass I was in was also sort of
the preliminary class to get into the painting program. And so while I was init, I got in the program and I
was like well, I'm just gonna do this 'cause I feel like I--I did well and I'mcurious. I understand what
I'm doing, I'd rather do this. So once I decided, you know, I had to convince my25:00parents that it was--
[laughs] it was the right choice. Which is--um, I don't--I still don't know ifit really was, but I love what
I'm doing so that's okay. Um-- and so I was like--they were like well if you'regonna do this, you
know, you're gonna--are you gonna get your masters? And I'm like, yeah, I'mgonna go all, as far as I
can in terms of education and then figure out what happens after.
So-- having experienced what it's like--with the education you get with abachelor's versus the education
you get as a--when you get a masters, it's so vastly different. And I think forme, I would--ba--getting a
bachelor's degree in art is barely scratching the surface, barely. I was, I feellike I was so much more naïve--
just getting a bachelor's degree and I, if it's something that other peoplewant, I would highly suggest the
graduate--um to get a masters. You'll cry every day [CW and MT laugh] because26:00it's--it's like so hurtful
and everyone needs to say something to improve your work but it's like ugh. Youknow, and like you work so
hard on a project and they're like, well I don't know like I don't think itworks. And I'm like, well I just spent
a month doing this so you're telling me in the month that I
spent was like-- mmm trash 'cause like the work didn't come out good. So, youcry every day, you go
through a lot of stress, but I think the conversation and the people that docome and talk to you are
very very knowledgeable.
So, I learn--I learned a lot in the very short amount of time. So I-- um, andthen after that coming
back--like coming out of it I was so scared. After grad school you get so scaredabout everything. So I
contacted Matt, I was like, hey-- like I don't want to keep getting rejectedanymore by myself and feeling
bad about myself alone, do you wanna be my fail buddy? [CW and MT laugh] Like27:00literally! I was like,
do you wanna fail with me? And so like, I think having someone to back you up interms of art is great,
like that's how I approached it. And then you start writing together, and Ithink he also informed my work
a lot and I think this year was the--I think we-- we put a good show together interms of like as a duo
and how to work together to create something more cohesive. Our work used to belike, so different and it
didn't really w--uh--the gallerists were like, they don't really work together.I'm like, oh okay, thanks!
And then go home and cry [CW and MT laugh]. But like, you know like, that's justthe pa--part of it,
like no matter what you're going to get criticism so it's the field. You know,it's about-- it's about
personal choice or personal--whatever you like basically. So-- yeah-- so how doI--I'm still working on 28:00
it. Honestly, like I'm still-- still working on figuring out how to-- be anartist and-- kind of keep going.
So, it's a process but, yeah. It's not easy [laughs]. If you don't mind gettingrejected every day. Not every
day, but like constantly.
CW: So when did you meet Matt?
IC: I met him in um, at U of H. We both went to uh, he was finishing up theprogram as I was getting in.
And I, you know, we know each other. Oh, we recog--I recognize he was anotherFilipino. I think he was
the only other one? Um, in the program at the time. So, you know I was like, ohokay! And then he was
older so I--he was-- coming out of the program so I kind of felt like, oh okaylike he's not gonna want
to talk to me [CW and MT: laugh]. I don't--I don't have anything to say, youknow? Like, he's probably
thinking of other things and so we didn't really talk for a while. I mean, we29:00would just like say hey once
in a while until I came back and I was like, hey are you still making art? Andhe's like, yeah, I'm making
art. I'm like, hey you're probably one of the few people who are still makingart that I know from that
time and so-- I was like, hey do you want to do stuff together [laughs]?I've--I'm--It's like I don't
really know like I--I was away from Houston for a while. He was more like, heknew a lot more people
than I did. So I was like hey, like-- do you mind like-- letting me tag alongand see what we could do
together? [MT: Hmm.] Mm, yeah.
CW: Um, can you describe how you make art or how you come up with your ideas?
IC: Ideas? Um-- I usually just, I don't know, I start with-- just looking [CWcoughs]. I look at a lot of
the--I look everything--at everything like from corals, to gems, to buildings30:00and it's usually really-- or
even like, I just--I just look at a lot of things and then as I go through themlike they just kind of come
together. And then I would go on Photoshop and like maybe--'cause I don'tsketch. Like I--I feel like I
don't need to, like if the images are there and they're specific and they'rewhat I want, like-- I can't
draw. Like honest, I can't draw [CW and MT laugh]. So, Photoshop really helpslike it gives me a rough
idea between the image that I kind of compose-- through Photoshop and thepainting, it--it sort of filters
through because like what I see isn't really what my hand wants to do. Um, andthen, in terms of like
having, oh uh we're gonna--it's--I never really approached making art with oh,31:00this is exactly what
wanna do, this is what I'm trying to say. Like it's not that, it's more of like,well, my body interpreting it
and then me kind of breaking it down again like in terms of like writing aboutit. So once you--once I
have the work and I'm looking at them and I kind of dissect what I was thinkingabout at the time and
why this was so interesting to me and it's, you know, like I think that's how itis? 'Cause I think if I--if I
control it too much it doesn't wanna, it doesn't--it doesn't work. It'll take meyears to make one thing if I
force it, but most of the time the work sort of dictates itself and so it'llkinda just come together?
Sometimes it takes a while but sometimes it's pretty fast. Those little oblongones came really fast,
they're like oh-- and they're fun 'cause they're small and I usually work likebig. So, I'm doing more of 32:00
that now 'cause it's an easier sort of-- cycle, I guess.
MT: Um, was it hard to try and convince your parents to let you like startexploring art more?
IC: Um, considering Asian parents? [CW and MT laugh] Um, I think my dad a littlebit more but not too
hard because I think they-- they can see it too? Like I wouldn't have chosen itif I didn't have a couple of
successes before that. You know? Before the choice of saying, hey, I'm gonna dothis. Like, I--you
know, winning juried shows a couple--you know like getting invited to do things.I was like, well maybe
you know there is something here that is--that feels more natural, that feelslike, you know, so. But I had
to like sit them down and be like, hey-- like are you willing to fund this?[laughs] I--you know, like
it's--it's--it's not something you'll get your money back from right away,33:00probably not for a while, but
it's you know like-- and I feel like I'm good at it. I feel like it's a naturalfit, and so like it wasn't so hard.
I think my parents generally just wanna be supportive, but if I chose a fieldwhere art is on the side, they
would have liked it better. But I think art is a practice and you have to keeppracticing, and the only way
to get good at it is to keep--do is--do it to like really make it a priority'cause otherwise it's never going
to go anywhere. Yeah, yeah. So, so that wasn't so hard. I think they were prettyopen to it. My dad just
comes to my shows and like just stands there for a while [CW and MT laugh] andthen he wants to go
home. Doesn't know anything about it. He doesn't know.
MT: [coughs] So regarding your art, how much [coughs] sorry, how much of your Filipino34:00
identity informs your work?
IC: I think, n--naturally it just does because I am. You know what I mean? Like[MT: Yeah.] it is a part
of me. I think what I've experienced, my idea of color, I think dictates it. Andso, and that I learned
from-- you know, I learned color from being in festivals when I was young or,you know, these things
like th--the things that I associate with colors are just sort of naturally fromwh--how I grew up and
where I grew up. So, it's--it's, you know, that's part of like letting it bewhat it is, like its nature is that.
But in terms of like the feel--the--the-- the genre of art that I do, likegeometric abstraction isn't
necessarily associated with being Filipino. It's, you know, it's very old whitemale. It's very, you know
the people who have started and are successful at it are old white males. So,35:00the field itself isn't-- I think
I'm approaching--uh, a traditional field with a perspective of a Filipino. So I[MT: Mhm.] that's-- that's
where that comes in. Like-- and that's where us Filipinos, or like minorities,we struggle with um--
putting that type of work out because the--the expectation like if you're NativeAmerican the expectation
would be pottery and it's gonna look like, you know someone with a headdress andso, that's not really
contemporary. That's more of like, well-- the--you are the stereotype. But we asartists today as, I guess
a younger generation, we're breaking all those rules of like we're not trying tobe stereotypes. I'm not
painting water buffalos. I'm not painting forests. I'm not doing that, but I amreferencing it. Like it's
never that far away from me, the--the titles of our show are always Filipino or36:00like-- the sort of--
exploration of what that even means. Especially being out of that country andout of that culture, like
what does that even mean, like, you know, like-- How much of you is that and howmuch do you let
yourself be that while also living in--as an American and, you know, trying tosurvive that way. So it's--
it's like I think psychologically it's a little, it's-- hard. It's a lot ofthings to kind of face-- and being
female. So that I mean, you know, like there's so much like stigma you gottafight before you can even
like say anything. You know? Like people will even like look at your work andyou gotta be like-- hey.
I'm like all the things that are not what is expected. So, you know. It's hardto kind of be-- sometimes
taken seriously, I think.37:00
MT: Yeah. -- Um, so why did you decide to go use like geometric abstraction inum, in your work?
IC: Um-- [MT coughs] I wanted to go into painting because I wanted to be daVinci. I wanted to--right?
Like I want to be able to paint like a photograph, like, that was it. And I--really struggled [MT: coughs].
I--I didn't-- as much as I wanted it to be, I just couldn't get there. Itwasn't--you know as much as, I
mean I can draw an owl as fine as someone else. I can paint a bird, that's fine,but like--it's never gonna
be, uh, a bird that's like photo-realistic. Which is what I wanted, right?That's the pinnacle of our art
expectation that you--you're a good artist when you can imitate an--a photographversus like a
photograph imitating, you know what I mean? So, I struggled with that for a38:00while. Um, until, like, we
had this one project where we had to pick from a list of artists and it rangedfrom, you know, people and
like s--um-- landscape and then abstraction and I was like, hey like I'll trythis abstract thing, this looks
easy, that's fine. And then--I realized as I was making it that oh, I understandthis. I didn't know how, I
was just like there's something about this that I understand; that is, that I'veconnected to and I don't
really know why. I didn't--you know, so--but from then on I was lucky enoughthat one of our
professors did geometric abstraction and pushed it because otherwise I wouldhave just--just really really
Like, I just didn't have, I had a friend who could do that and I was like, oh39:00[sigh] she paints like beautiful
like porcelain skin on women and the way she puts like glossiness in the eyes,it was just fantastic. I was
like, but I--I knew. Seeing her--and being in the same program, I saw the vastdifferences of what it
really is if you're really gifted in that and what it is to not be, which is me.So I had to, I had to like focus
on the things that I knew. And I had to allow myself to be okay with that 'causewho wouldn't want to
paint like the others [MT coughs] who wouldn't want to paint like a photograph?Like, that would be so
great, but I'm like well I can do this one and I'm good, and I was the only onewho was doing it and I was
doing it really really well. And so, I mean, you don't usually get into gradschool straight of under--
straight out of under grad as an artist, like but I got into a few schools thatat least I could choose from. 40:00
So, I was like okay then there's some successes here that sort of points that Icould do, I could focus on it
and be eventually, hopefully, successful. You know-- yeah.
MT: So, wha--which artist are you most like inspired by for geoma--geometricabstraction and just in
IC: Um, it's the artist actually, it's--it's an architect like it's not even apainter. Well, I mean I do like
some painters but I--I love Frank Lloyd Wright who did um-- midcenturyarchitecture. He's--his work
is a lot about the home and family life, and I love that. But he's crazy, he'sliterally crazy. Um, he
was--ridiculous. And I sa--I want to go see one of his um buildings in Chicago,it was great. And
Chicago is all about art nouveau and all that stuff and we did all thearchitecture. So my favorite artists 41:00
are actually architects and, um-- who else? Um--yeah, like-- I think-- it helpsto, I mean, it helps to
know who your peers are who does the same thing but it also--you also have tolook at everybody. And
so, I am mostly inspired by uh Michael Taylor who works with like glasssculptures that are like beautiful
like, I'm like I always just look at his work because his work is naturallyworking with light which is
what I try to imitate with my paintings because there's no real light there.There's no real transparency,
but I have to look at transparency in order to try to render transparency andlight and color. So, a lot of
glass sculptures, a lot of buildings, a lot of like um, high rises becausethey're a combination of
architecture and glass and reflection and color and nature. So, it's like really42:00more the buildings are
really what I look at. So, when I drive around I'm like, when it's a stop light,I'm like I look around and
take pictures of just random buildings in the city, so yeah.
MT: Um, so which or your pieces, like, do you like the most? Like, which onespeaks most to you?
IC: In terms of like, from the show?
MT: Just in general.
IC: Just in general? Um, my favorite piece is actually one of my first geometricabstraction pieces that I
did in undergrad. Though I still have on my--well it's still my favorite piece.[MT: Mhm.] Like out of
everything. Um, I s--I-- I-- it was--it's different from what I'm doing now.It's a lot more handwork,
which was when I still was like, do I really want to do abstraction? And I knewI really wanted to do hard
edges. It was still me deciding that I wanted to do it and it was just a littleproject that our professor 43:00
wanted us to do on the side. But, until now it's like still my favorite piece. Ican send it to you guys if you
guys want to see [CW and MT: Oh yeah! Absolutely.] it. Yeah, I'll send it.It's--it's still on my wall. It's
like, I look at it every day [CW and MT laugh]. I'll never get rid of it.
And then I have this one piece that's like, I also did in undergrad that my momabsolutely like, there's
like a few people that have been interested in it and she's like, no. No one'sgetting this. I'm like, but why
do you even like it so much? It's like, such a weird piece. She's likeit's--it's like an airport. I'm like
what? There's no airport. But it--that's what she sees and she--she says she'snever letting it go so I
think-- I think those two pieces came at about the same time and so--it's kindof telling. Not that I don't
like any of my work now! But I think if I was to keep one piece until like Idied or something it would be
probably those two things. Um--yeah. And then the--there--there's another onethat I like that uh started
the oblong pieces. Like it was one that I made that I, I sort of didn't even44:00think about until this show and I
was like, hey I think doing these oblong pieces are interesting 'causethey're--they're kind of a little bit
of everything. They look like people, but they're also really architectural andthey remind people of
traveling 'cause everyone says it's like an airplane window. And I'm like, wellthat's fine [CW and MT
laugh]. You know, so there's the--the--the beginning piece of that was one, alsokinda one, of my
favorites but-- yeah.
MT: Um, so, what are some of the highlights of your career so far?
IC: Um, uh, doing uh the Biennale in the Philippines was really fun. Um, doingthe residency there. I--I
think a lot of, well if I can do something to encourage art in the Philippines,that for me is a highlight. 45:00
You know? Because--I, that's one of my really really like long term goals is tobring what I'm learning
here back. So, it's nothing like oh you know I showed at the Whitney oranything. I think for me, what
I'm really working on is just learning enough knowledge, learning the--to meetthe right people, to make
being an artist in the Philippines an okay career because it's, you know. Unlessyou're like old and you
know like go to Manila like you're not really-- eh, you're just doodling. And--and I know there's a lot
of like really good artists because there's so many good Filipino artists here!And really good Filipino
artists in--in Europe. Like, w--we're we're all capable. But we're just notthere in terms of like--our 46:00
I think we have to go back and improve it because that's where we're from. Thatinforms our work and if
we're not going to help improve it through the coming generation then what arewe really doing? Like
what is it really all about? So, I think that's the super super long-term goal.Um, but in the mean time I
really have to learn as much as I can, you know-- yeah. There's a--so I meanI've met some and just not
even in the field of like painting it's also in video art and performance art.There--I met this um artist
who does video art who's like pretty--he's like pretty prominent in his field.He's like one of my favorite
artists are Filipino film makers in Europe and I was like, wow. You know? Like,I wanna know who they
are and like we should do something. You know like, and being--we're now part ofthe Filipino-
American directory of you know and that for me is a great start in learning whoI like. I've met people
through it that are you know, that have-- um-- led to shows and, you know, and47:00all these other things.
But it's--it's I think really for me the pinnacle of my career as like does alittle show there and you know
having to do a residency there and [CW: Mhm.] promoting all that stuff is reallywhere I feel like a
personal goal at least you know.
MT: So what's the [cough] art scene like in the Philippines right now?
IC: [sigh] [MT laughs] How do I explain? There's some interesting art--but Ith--from what I see-- eh
I don't-- The thing is like I'm a little bit separated from how people arefeeling in terms of our
government. Like our president now is ridiculous like we--just as bad as Trumplike you know his whole
thing is like um-- trying to get rid of like drugs in the Philippines, and his48:00way of doing it is like killing
people. Just like s--like executing them in the park or something like it'scrazy. He's been um, like the
UN has tried to intervene like it's really like a thing. So, I don't know ifthat has anything to do with it or
our history of our previous presidents who have not been so good and there'scorruption and but the art
there is from what I see it's a lot of like-- [phone vibrates] um-- likebleeding and like [MT: Mhm.]
grotesque and I don't know if it informs the work or it's just about the shockvalue of hey you know your
idea of paintings are these beautiful seaside pictures but here I am bringingthis like really grotesque 49:00
mutilated body as art and like bringing like saws into the gallery. But if youdo that here it's like, well
what else? Like we've seen this. Like our art history has gone way beyond this.We've had, you know,
mainstream um movements pass this.
So, I don't, that's what I'm saying like I don't know. I don't know if Inecessarily like the work. I think
I'm--maybe because I've seen a lot of it? And studied a lot of it and, you know,it's not for me it's not
interesting. For me it's like just the shock value and it doesn't really--sayanything to improve society
or environment or anything or political it's just, well I mean it's fine if itis just that but if you're going
to put it in a context of like the world, the world's understanding of art, it'sjust not--or at least
American understanding of it, it's just not there. Which, if they had arthistory they would know. Or they 50:00
would learn from like past artists and what different ways of expressingthemselves, you know what I
mean? Like there's, you--you'd be more open to being geometric or building orlike sculpture or other
things to really exp--because art is a language so the more you are articulateat it, the better your--
you'll get your message across to your viewers. So, it's you know, it just feelslike they're toddler
talking versus, you know-- someone who's a little bit more educated.
So that's what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to get them from like the babblingstage, not that I'm like I'm
deeming them that but from my little experience of it, I think even a little bitof art history would really
inform a lot of their work. [CW: Mhm.] And it's not just like we--we have thistendency of like it all has
to come from me? And that looking isn't a thing, like looking at other artists.51:00Like that it's--you know or
reading other people's articles or whatever is being written about it. Like itto us it's like oh why would
I--why would I do that? I have to do it on my own and I have to create my ownideas. But then you're
starting from the beginning when everybody has already invented the wheel, likewhy are you
reinventing the wheel when you can learn and make the wheel do something else?You know? Or put it
in a bigger project or whatever it is, so-- so that's-- I sound like a snob butit's [CW and MT laugh]
true. I'm just trying to--
MT: So, wha--do you feel like you try and push like any kind of message in your artwork?
IC: I think, I think right now it's more of-- telling a story. It--I--I'm alwaysalways about telling a
story, now I'm not-- setting any rules or anything or breaking anything. It'smore of like I always loved
storytelling, folk--folklores I read a lot of fiction and so it's more of-- the52:00immigrant story but like-- ah,
it's--it--but not as obvious. Or it's, you know, it's just an expression of myexperience and if I'm labeled
as an immigrant and if I'm labeled as all these things it'll sort of come out?And if it's not, it doesn't
come out it's okay 'cause they're-- pretty [laughs]. I like pretty things andtelling stories. So, you know,
like both of those things are I think where I-- I try to go from or try to pullfrom, but it's-- it's-- yeah,
telling a story more than pushing anything. And if you don't see it that's okay'cause then you're looking
at something pretty anyway, you know.
MT: [coughs] So, are you pre--well connected with the Filipino community here in Houston?53:00
IC: Um, not really. I think not as much as other people. I--I-- um-- I try tosupport it when it is
available? You know? Like but to say that I'm like oh do I go to like festivalsor whatever, not
necessarily. I think I'm just-- used to just keeping my head underground, whichisn't really helpful.
Which is something I really should change. Which is why I'm with Matt! Workingwith Matt helps
because he's so into all of that stuff! Or he--he knows more people, so he getsbetter information.
MT: Just reading [inaudible] the questions. [CW and IC laugh]
CW: Um, do you have any other goals for the future or for your work or just inpersonal life?
IC: Yeah, I mean, um-- I think-- Eventually I think the big dream is, right,54:00like you want a show in New
York or you, you know, you want to be written about or, you know. But it's notthat it's the thing that
drives me, I think-- I think, just-- making work and getting better [MT: Mhm.]at telling, right? Again
like it's a language and it--the more you are learned and articulate about it,um I think that's where I am
and if-- I've don't really turn down opportunities if they come, and so I'mvery, I am very open I am
always very like grateful for them. So, um, [MT coughs] big goals in terms oflike, just like, crossing my
fingers and hoping it'll happen is yeah, being part of the Whitney biannual andrepresenting Filipino
artists. Um, you know, going back and-- doing, maybe, like the one in May--like55:00just any sort of
biannual where we can represent ourselves. I think that's a goal and it shouldbe a goal and, you know--
and being a good role model for-- and I encourage it.
Like, you become so much more socially active, not that you have to go to everyfestival or anything, but
when you know there's--you can be--you can share information, and you can sharea possibility. Which
is really-- you know, every Filipino I know is a nurse, and-- my brother who is,you know, who is
studying to be a physician assistant is also, on the side, a photographer and acarpenter and that's a thing.
You know, like he's always also looked for a creative aspect for his life, andso-- that's great, he's a
better photographer than me, I don't know how that happened, [CW and MT laugh]but he is. Um, he's
built me benches, you know like, he--he collects art and I--I feel like maybe I56:00help, I influenced him
[MT laughs]. Um, so you know, like he-- I think it doesn't have to be thatyou--I'm doing this so that
someone else can be an artist. I'm doing this it's in terms of like saying thathey you can--you can do
what your parents tell you and have a stable life and--or if it's something youwant that's fine, but you
know like you can also enjoy all these other things with your time. [MT: Mhm.]
And you know, and if you're gonna invest in anyone like there's people who aretrying--you know, like
who are speaking about-- you know, we don't--we don't necessarily need anAustralian coming to the
Philippines trying to save the whales. You know, like we are also--we also haveto be responsible of all
those things, so-- so that's one of the things. I love going back there 'causethere's thi--there's this little
island in our big island that is-- I was there before, before it was like a57:00thing [CW and MT: Mhm.] and it
had all these, you know, it was you--we didn't have electricity and we werecamping on this island, but
now it's like a--a--a--a marine reserve or something and they're trying to bringback all the corals and
they have like these giant clams and you can go diving and you know, it's--it'sgreat and it's beautiful
and people come in and like they bring in kids to learn about the environment.So it's like it--it can be
that, it doesn't necessarily have to be like I have to be the one that saves thewhales [CW: Yeah.] and you
know-- stop all these ships from shipp--whatever it is, just that's you know-- Ithink being part of a--
part of the machine is not a bad place to be, or you know, I try to take it as aresponsibility otherwise--
I'm just selfish [laughs] or narcissistic [CW laughs] 'cause I'm just likelooking at myself in the mirror,
painting. Like [CW laughs] it's--it's--it's--it's sad otherwise [laughs] you58:00know. Yeah.
MT: Um, so do you do anything on the side besides your, like, your art?
IC: Um, my I--I help my mom out sometimes for uh, if she wants to have like daysoff I'll come in and
help her but it's--it's really like uh short. Maybe two days out of the week[MT: Mhm.] and just to like
pay the bills and [MT: Mhm.] the rest of it is like I have-- you know-- At leastthey're okay with me
doing that 'cause it's--it's--it's-- it's hard. I think, you know, like there'stimes when you're like
how am I gonna--how am I gonna put gas in my car tomorrow? Like and so--but youknow if you
believe. You gotta, part of it is faith, I guess? [MT: Mhm.] Yeah.
CW: Um, how do you think that your race or your--or your gender has affectedyour ability to be
successful as an artist?
IC: Um, I'd--I--I think it informs the work? Um, I used to think when I first59:00got into this. I used to be so
proud of my--like it was something, okay it's--it's something that I said tomyself that I was like, I'm-- if
I--if I was just looking at something that I made, uh I'm looking at a painting.I would think-- like if you
didn't know me, if you didn't know who made it, you would think it a guy did it.And I for some reason felt
proud of that--that my work looked like a male artist's work. And-- that waswhen I was like I didn't really
understand what that meant, that it was better somehow to be male. And so, fromthat, and like learning and
like reading because we--we don't know about feminism in the Philippines.There's no feminism, it's like not
a thing we didn't know that happened, you know, like it's just not a thing. So,60:00for me like I-- learning about
feminism and learning about my mindset about it I was like, wait why would Iwant that? Why would I
want-- why would I want my work to look like a--someone like a male did it? Or aguy did it? Like why
would that make me proud? So, I think it's more of I don't necessarily thinkit's about-- trying to get success
because it's, I don't know if I'm successful. You know like I--I don't, I can'tdeem myself successful. I can if
it was from my standards, like that I love what I do and then, you know, andthen like people like it sure but
like I can't really deem myself as doing it for success.
But I think-- being able to represent and be proud of what I do as a femaleand--and show it the places
that I've shown I think it's-- those are uh like ways that I look at it. [CW:61:00Mhm.] Um-- yeah, because
like-- you know there's only really been a handful of really good artists out ofso many men and who
were just as informed or-- I, mm, feel like we're more complicated like, youknow like we--I think we
have a balance of nurturing and drive that is really nuanced and really brings adifferent perspective. So--
I think it's more of fighting against being, you know, like put down. Notnecessarily put down, but like
we you know like we have something to say and it hasn't been in a long time thatwe have this
opportunity to be able to say anything. You know we've all--we like there's alot of stories about--
female successes that males have taken um glory for, you know like, [CW: Mhm.]we--we have to
exercise that right I think to be part of-- society and-- just as equal in62:00society. So, I think that's what it is
and um, I've never really I--I don't think I would--I haven't really compromisedin that aspect, so I
don't think I'm planning to.
There's-- um there's this story I tell, I--I remembered it recently and I didn'tknow what it meant at the
time until maybe like a year or two ago? When I was young, I went to a Chineseschool because my mom
thought--figured, you know learn a different language that's good for you lateron. Uh, I was in
kindergarten [CW: Mhm.] and part of uh, the morning routine was that, you know,you play the--the
national anthem and then you pull the flag up [CW laughs] and there's always agirl and a guy [CW:
Mhm.] and I'm like oh so excited, one day it was my turn. I'm like, I'm gonna doit. I'm gonna pull the
rope! I wanna be the one that raises the flag, 'cause the girl's job is usually63:00just to hold the other side of
the string [MT: Oh, yeah.] so that it doesn't get tangled. [MT: Mhm.] I'm like,I'm not gonna do that. At
kinder--as a kindergartener I was like, I'm not gonna do that, I'm gonna pull. Iwent straight up to the
thing, stood where the boys were supposed to stand, and grabbed onto the--ontothe string and then my
teacher like moved me. And I had to hold it and I didn't under--I was so mad.I--uh--I don't, know why
I was mad, but I was so mad. Like why couldn't I do it? So, I think recentlyI've really been focused on
that, like why can't I pull the flag? I'm just as capable as the guy that'sshorter than me [CW: laughs]
that's pulling the flag. Like, you know like I'm pretty tall for my age and forbe--for being Filipino and
so I'm like, I don't get it. Like I don't know why I was only in thesupportive-- non-job job that's like,
you know, so for-- so it's not really, you know I don't really see it as likedoing something to achieve
anything. It's more of like, well how do I approach making work and because it's64:00so much more personal
and so--so mad. [ CW and MT laugh] I still tell my parents I'm so mad [CW and MTlaugh]. Like
how--how is that okay? That's not okay [laughs]. Yeah. They just laugh at me,but [CW laughs] -- I was
so--I remember being so mad! I still feel it, like now I'm like I'm so mad again[laughs]! I'm like, how
dare they! I should write them an angry letter, when I was in kindergarten inthe eighties, this is what you
did to me [MT laughs]. Yeah-- so. Yeah, so it's--well, I don't know. How areyou--have are you guys
born here? I'm--I'm--I'm flipping the table here. [laughs] [MT: Yeah, yeah.]Were you guys born here?
MT: Yeah, we were.
IC: It's fine. I mean [CW laughs] it was just like a random question. I was--I'mwondering if it
was something that you guys experienced too and what your experiences were.
MT: I guess sort of, like [IC: Yeah.] I kind of like when I was growing up I was65:00kinda like, um, I kinda
wanted to be a tomboy. But I don't know how much of that was just like 'cause Iwas very close with my
brother or if it was because like at--to a certain extent you're like oh Ikinda--being a boy is like you get
better privileges and like something like that. [IC: Right, right.] Yeah, so--
IC: Yeah, you get to stay out more, like [MT: Yeah.] a lot of the things myfriends were like complaining
about--my parents are, are pretty liberal. [CW and MT: Mhm.] I could hear themtalking about like
taking LSD or whatever. Whatever, mom and dad! [CW and MT laugh] You're--you'remore like
experimental than I ever was! Okay, I get it! You know, but um-- yeah, a lot ofmy friends were like
yeah like my brothers can go out at night and I was never allowed to and then solike yeah, I can
definitely like relate to that. That it's-- like why can't--I mean we're just ascapable, you know? [CW
and MT: Mhm.] So we gotta change that conversation.
MT: Yeah we do. [all laugh]
IC: [laughs] So yeah. What else? What else? I have--I feel like I have another66:00story, but I can't
remember it right now [laughs]. A lot of crazy stuff.
MT: Um, just switching it up a bit, I--not--well, but going back. [IC: Yeah.]Um, do you have, are
you well connected with like your family back in the Philippines?
IC: Yeah! I mean, we're you know like we-- I still talk to them and you know wehave a group chat, like
[MT: Ah.] with like a hundred something people. [CW laughs] [MT: Wow!] It'slike, okay I gotta turn
this off somehow, but it's nice like 'cause they remember our birthdays and likethey always greet each
other, we--we always greet each other. And so, like if something happens,everyone is--there's ways to
communicate. Um, so, yeah like it's--it's I think it's a-- but I thinktechnology really allows for that and,
you know, it's good. We're always aware. And my mom is very good at like,she's-- her passion is, you
know, she's very spiritual and so she supports a lot of things going on there67:00because we are aware that it
is a third world country and a lot of people do need help, so you know. Our--therea--our resources
usually just we try to-- take it back. My mom's like really social and that'sgood for her. I never got it,
but I try! I'll--I'll help her but like um... I'm very-- about myself I guess.[CW and MT: Mhm.] Yeah.
MT: Chelsea, do you have any more questions?
CW: Mm-- No, I don't think so.
MT: Okay, then. [IC: Yeah]
IC: I hope it was entertaining. [all laugh] I'll send--I'll send that image ofmy favorite piece and you'll
see, it's different [MT: Yeah.] but it's like--