I grew up in Vigan, a town about 8 hours by bus north of Metro Manila, the capital city of 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, all dating back from the 16th century.
In college, I studied Medical Technology but I realized belatedly during my internship that I did not really enjoy being around sick people. After graduation, I took a certificate in Fine Arts. After a few years hanging out with other artists, I learned that there’s not much money in it unless you’re exceptionally talented.
My career’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 short stint in the arts. Santi was keen on incorporating digitally manipulated images in his artworks, so he let me play with his laptop’s image editing program to produce images that were eventually transferred by acrylic gloss to stretched canvas and painted over. To accomplish the work, I became proficient in Corel Paint and, later, Adobe Photoshop to scan and digitally manipulate images.
While exploring the programs in his laptop I came upon Netscape Composer. I quickly learned that I can make web pages with it. I searched the web for tutorials and stumbled upon Webmonkey where I religiously read about html. I decided right then that I wanted to master this new technology. To push me further, Santi decided that we should make a website for our artists group, the Baguio Arts Guild.
For days, I read about Flash, Fireworks and Dreamweaver (owned by the Macromedia company then) from various online tutorials. A few weeks of self-study resulted to one ugly (by my current standards) website but that did start everything.
Three years after my initial jump in web design, I accumulated enough html skills to land me a job in Manila under an American expat who ran a web design business from his home office. Within two years, the company was absorbed by a multinational market research firm and I was brought to Kuala Lumpur under a two-year contract to manage a newly formed in-house web team tasked to update the various company websites and to create online surveys.
After my short KL stint, I returned to Manila to work for American-owned web design companies. In 2007 I decided to go freelance and have since helped many local and foreign businesses to bring their presence online.
In 2018, with my father's passing, I returned to my hometown to manage the newspaper business he left behind. Although I am now far from the country's business center, I am still able to provide my web development services with the help of fast internet connection that is now finally available in my hometown. I have also started a web hosting service to cater to local businesses in the region.
The internet has changed dramatically since I typed my first lines of code in Netscape Composer. I am often amazed at the speed that new technologies develop. It's no wonder that one must now have to go to school to learn a skill that took me only a few weeks to study over two decades 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.