Dan Matutina, illustrator and designer, gave a talk on July 22, 2017 in Ayala Museum, Makati, at 10:30 AM, as part of Ayala Museum’s Free Day, on how design can rebuild a nation. The area was packed, by 8 AM in the morning, with long lines of a fair share of young people and adults awaiting what was in store for them in Ayala Museum’s free day. Bandang 9AM, may mga taong nagaabang na sa Ground Floor ng Ayala Museum para sa unang talk.

For this month, Ayala Museum’s Inspire Every Day focused on the arts and history, with Vestments for Worship Wrapped in Identity, a display of priestly vestments, a special feature on Nick Joaquin on his 100th  and Julio Nakpil on his 150th year, as revolutionaries, a display of Manansala and Manalad: Framing History, and talks given by special guests, among others.

Matutina begins talking about his experiences working as a designer

Matutina’s talk revolved on What Designers Can Do. He introduced the talk with the process: Listening and Research, then onto Idea Generation, and finally, Execution. Nagkwento siya ng apat na case studies ng mga personal experience niya bilang isang designer at kung paano niya nagamit ang kaalaman niya sa ikauunlad ng bansa.

Ang unang case na prinesent ni Matutina ay kung saan nakasama niya ang Design Co. The mission was to show people what design could do for the Philippines, such as partnering with the government on various but timely issues like the environment and education. Sa event nila, ang Design Co. at ibang mga local design companies ay nag-pitch ng mga design solutions para malunasan ang mga problema sa kalusugan, kultura at edukasyon. Samantala, isang design company, ang Inksearch, ay gumawa naman ng pitch para sa National Museum. Habang ang Team MNL ay nag-focus sa education. Dahil sa event na ito, nakabuo sila ng koneksyon sa lokal na pamahalaan para maaksyunan ang mga isyu sa kalusugan, edukasyon at kultura.

The background wallpaper for Nick Joaquin and Julio Nakpil’s exhibit

Matutina’s talk revolved on What Designers Can Do. He introduced the talk with the process: Listening and Research, then onto Idea Generation, and finally, Execution. Nagkwento siya ng apat na case studies ng mga personal niyang karanasan bilang isang designer at kung paano niya nagamit ang kaalaman niya sa ikauunlad ng bansa.

Ang unang case na prinesent ni Matutina ay kung saan nakasama niya ang Design Co. The mission was to show people what design could do for the Philippines, such as partnering with the government on various but timely issues like the environment and education. Sa event nila, ang Design Co. at ibang mga local design companies ay nag-pitch ng mga design solutions para malunasan ang mga problema sa kalusugan, kultura at edukasyon. Samantala, isang design company, ang Inksearch, ay gumawa naman ng pitch para sa National Museum. Habang ang Team MNL ay nag-focus sa education. Dahil sa event na ito, nakabuo sila ng koneksyon sa lokal na pamahalaan para maaksyunan ang mga isyu sa kalusugan, edukasyon at kultura.

For the second case, Matutina partnered with Move.Ph for disaster preparedness. Kasama ang mga Typhoon Sendong survivors, nag-develop si Matutina ng games na nagte-train sa mga bata tungkol sa disaster preparedness. For the Move.Ph logo, they opted to use the icon of a blue tarsier. Kahit hindi ito gusto ni Matutina noong una, nilagay niya yung blue tarsier dahil ito ang gusto ng kanyang audience. We see here the importance of collaboration between a designer and stakeholders.

The famed blue tarsier design for Move.Ph

Matutina went to Japan for the third case. Japan Foundation invited ASEAN designers to go to Japan and work with local businesses as a way to empower them.

Sa Japan, ang collaborator niya ay isang lokal na brand ng kape. The coffee brand, with his help, streamlined the brand for continuity purposes. Matutina tapped in insights coming from the “core” of the brand, a crucial move as he looked into what the brand is all about and what values it stands for. In doing so, Matutina decided to re-name the brand, from “Anchor Coffee” to “Bokou” (means “Mother Port”) which was nuanced to the brand’s values.

Para sa huling case study, si Matutina at iba pang mga designer na alumni ng University of the Philippines (UP) ay tinawagan noong 2015 upang gumawa ng design para sa UP Athletics. Sa proyektong ito, ang chancellor ng UPD, si Michael Tan, at iba pang mga stakeholders ay nag-collaborate para sa pagkakaisa ng UP community. Sa bagong design, na-energize ang UP community para bigyan ng suporta ang kanilang mga atleta. Matutina emphasizes, in this specific case, that images and symbols have power, especially because they represent organizations.

Tinapos ni Matutina ang kanyang talk gamit ang isang quote mula kay Edmund Hillary:

There is no doubt that creativity is the most important resource of all.
Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would forever be repeating the same patterns.

Man needs creativity in order to innovate and grow, not just for the betterment of one’s self but also for society. After the talk, there was a 15-20 minute Q&A. One interesting question was about how Matutina gets inspiration as a designer. His answer was research, because in research, one is able to see many possibilities that can be used for current projects as an artist.

Attendees try out a virtual reality installation featuring Rizal’s execution in Bagumbayan

For me, the talk became informative and in a way, an eye opener. Hindi ko inakalang maraming opportunities pala ang pwedeng gawin ng isang designer para makatulong sa bansa. Isang halimbawa, sa kasaysayan, may mga organisasyon na nakipaglaban sa ngalan ng isang adbokasiya o paniniwala tulad ng Katipunan. Ang mga organisasyon na ito ay may mga simbolo. I didn’t expect that symbols would make for a strong statement and that they can actually serve as a unifying factor in organizations.

Ang talagang nalaman ko mula sa talk ay kung gaano kalakas ang kapangyarihan ng biswal. They can motivate people and energize a community such as in the case of the UP Athletics design, and enhance the message for people. In design, communication is important. It builds connections between people and communities in order to unite for a common good.

A family looks onto Ayala Museum’s diorama

Design and in a larger sense, art, is a part of our culture as a nation. Art becomes a venue for critical discussion, for expression, where one can process our wounds as a nation and continuously express the Filipino narrative. In narrative or design, art becomes a tool to continually express and redefine what it means to be a Filipino. This artistic narrative itself binds the Filipino nation. What we can do as Filipinos who consume art is to learn the lesson from the narrative, and continue the story, whether as an artist or as a citizen with the ability to help society. We find new narratives to tell, we find lessons in the story and finally, we find new designs and patterns to use for progress.

This story is for future generations. This narrative is for the future of our nation.  

Other speakers at the event were Armie Jarin-Benett at Iza Calzado.

Article and photos courtesy of Dominique Zurbano

Featured image (Creative Cities: Manila by Dan Matutina) courtesy of Twisted Fork