I grew up in Vigan, a town about 400km north of the capital city of Metro Manila, in the Philippines. Vigan is a beautiful town, listed as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Village because of the Spanish colonial houses and the old baroque church in the town center.
I studied Medical Technology but I belatedly realized that I did not enjoy being around sick people. After graduation, I took another course in Fine Arts. But after a few years hanging out with other artists, I learned that there’s not much money in it if you're in a small city like Baguio and unless you’re exceptionally talented.
My life’s turning point came when I went to work for the late Santiago Bose. Helping him create his large paintings in the late 90s was the peak of my very short career in the arts. Santi introduced me to the burgeoning digital arts movement abroad, and how other artists were turning to the internet to market their art. He was keen on incorporating digitally manipulated images in his artworks, so he let me play with his computer’s image editing program to produce images that were eventually transferred by acyrlic gloss to mixed-media paintings.
While exploring the installed programs in his laptop I came upon Netscape Composer and learned that I can make web pages with it. I searched the net for tutorials and stumbled upon Webmonkey where I religiously read about html. I decided right then that I wanted to learn this new technology. To push me further, Santi came up with the idea that we should make a website for Baguio Arts Guild. For days, I read about Flash, Fireworks and Dreamweaver from various online tutorials.
A few weeks of self-study resulted to this (WARNING: the browser might popup an old realplayer plugin, that’s no virus so don’t panic.) This is one ugly website but it is where everything started.
Three years later, my new web design skills landed me a job in Manila with an American expat who ran a web design business from his home office. Another year later, my awesome skills brought me to Kuala Lumpur for a two-year stint in a market research company, managing their in-house web team. For two years I updated the company websites and helped create online surveys for clients like Mandarin Oriental.
More than ten years later and after working for several American web design companies in Manila, I decided to go freelance and am now working from home helping foreign and Filipino clients bring their businesses online.
The internet has changed dramatically since I typed my first lines of code in Netscape Composer. Often, I find it hard to keep up with new technologies. No wonder young kids now have to go to school to learn a trade that took me only a few weeks to study 14 years ago. I do my best to keep up (still by reading online tutorials) because my love for creating websites is the one thing that has not changed. I am happy that after a few career dead-ends, I eventually discovered a profession that I truly enjoy doing.
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