Our Nature is calling to us, and I want to help those that want to hear it - to listen to it, and to feel it, and to do something about it.
My work is led by curiosity for the space between hard facts and dreamlike notions, where creativity resides. I am deeply inspired by our living systems, food growing practices, eco-systemic resilience, and learning from Indigenous sisters and brothers.
As early as the late 17th century, Alexander von Humboldt linked the destructive nature of colonisation with climate change during his pioneering expeditions to the Amazon. He appealed to the King of Spain to halt further damage, yet centuries later, the story continues. The 1986 publication, Creative Energy, by Thomas Berry, says that it is in our genetic coding to "restore" our Earth, though we are slow to shift. We have had multiple messengers through the centuries, in the form of people, disease, natural disasters, and miracles. Our Nature is to Be Nature, not against it, not as a spectator to it.
'It' is you and me.
I grew up in the Philippines in the 1980's and 90's, during a time when economic boom and bust cycles and development were reeling from effects of 20 years of Martial Law, in a country that had been colonised, capitalised, exploited, corrupted, and extracted (and continues to be!) From a very young age, I was exposed to our actions' impact, through observing the changes before my eyes.
Redefining Design Practice
During my training as an architect, sustainable design was taught as a specialisation, a magical box of solutions that could make everything OK. Architecture was taught as a practice of highly skilled, honed-in symbolic, academic, and aesthetic artistry coupled with technical nous. Although it is changing today, there is still something that is not taught: intuitive connection to life itself; the ground we stand on, the water, the air. Design as we know it is so focused on the human experience, but often fails to recognise other species' experiences at a systemic level.
I realise that to achieve this, we must go back to first principles, unlearn and relearn. For over 15 years, I trained and worked in commercial architecture. Although sustainability has always been high on the agenda, we need to go deeper.
In 2013, through the support of my then partner, family, work colleagues, and collaborators, I founded the Coron EcoVillage Initiative, a concept proposed as a restorative reaction to effects of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. This type of work felt right, and although it was only a concept, it was received with great interest. Following curiosity and intuition, I found solace in learning more about Indigenous, Aboriginal, and First Nation peoples, and how their languages and cultures are so tightly woven into Place.
Between 2016 and 2017, I sailed across the Severn and the Irish Sea, through the Western Isles of Scotland, cycled in the Outer Hebrides and parts of New York, Vermont, and the Philippines. Taking a year off the desk to focus on personal growth and wellbeing gave way to connecting with inspiring people and places. Through this year of exposure to the elements and intensive learning, I obtained a Permaculture Design Certificate and trained in how to design and construct with bamboo, and led groups of people underwater, through shipwrecks and geothermal lakes. These practices by their very core principles, were restorative and regenerative. This was a way back down to earth.
The acknowledgement of those core principles and practices lead to accepting Board Trustee positions in two organisations I have deep regard for. Being involved with Land is Life keeps a finger on the pulse on global Indigenous Peoples, and Artspace Lifespace, focuses on the strengthening of the local Bristol Arts and Culture scenes. Free time is often filled by other voluntary positions with organisations like TEDxBristol as a Core Team member (since 2013), filling various roles ranging from Sponsor Liaison, Hospitality, and Sustainability Coordinator. On other days, I can be found winding down tending to fruit, flowers, and vegetables in our allotment space close to home.
My current work includes consulting in restorative and regenerative design, lecturing part-time for the University of West England, mentoring, and actively practicing as an Architect and CoLab Studio Lead with AWW. In the spaces between architectural practice and teaching, I work as a PADI Divemaster.
Through using skills and sharing knowledge and experience from a kaleidoscopic background and range of interests, I invite people to rediscover and re-listen.
I am grateful for all the time, people, and places, the opportunities, support, and inspiration that they have contributed - knowing or unknowingly, to help in realising this path.
Hopefully in some way, I could do the same for others.