Much has been said about the Filipino dream. The hope for a better, liveable future is common refrain for most Filipinos. Sometimes, however, those dreams feel out of reach. After all, the challenges are daunting–how does one dream when faced with difficult situations and disappearing opportunities?
Prim Paypon, through The Dream Project PH, seeks to find a remedy to the discouraged dreams of the local youth. He holds on to the hope that through the proper support, organization, and drive, these Filipino dreams will remain alive. More importantly, these dreams can start becoming real.
We sat down with Prim to talk about the beginnings of his work with The Dream Project PH and the role of art and initiative in today’s context.
How would you like to be introduced? Tell us something about yourself.
I am Prim Paypon, a proud son of Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. Since 2004, I have been personally collecting and understanding impact stories of Filipino innovators across regions. This social consciousness of Filipinos having a generous dream for the country naturally led me to create a hybrid non-government organization called The Dream Project PH. Since its foundation in 2013, we have been working on various collective Filipino dreams by imagining great possibilities from nothingness, and engineering the most superior strategies with zero to inferior resources. The uniqueness of such a development practice blessed me to become a Filipino Dreamagineer.
Can you tell us how The Dream Project PH started?
For nine years, out of my personal interest in the potential of idealism, I decided to record my interviews and interactions with 614 Filipino youth of every socio-economic class across regions to appraise whether or not Dr. Jose Rizal’s assessment on them being the hope of our nation still stands true. Much to my dismay, most of them did not feel that they can contribute anything significant to our nation, with 7 out of 10 not having a dream for themselves or others.
After wallowing in a state of disappointment and reflection, I decided to take significant actions in addressing the discouraging words, lack of self-esteem, lack of passion, lack of opportunity and poverty as the reasons behind their lack of dreams. So one fine day in March 2013, I quit my corporate executive job and took on various volunteer jobs across Western Visayas for the next two months. On 24 June 2013, we audaciously launched The Dream Project PH, and ran the first “The Dream Caravan” the following day.
As a lover and purveyor of the arts, when did your appreciation for it start?
When I was in high school, I always knew I wanted to build a special place for underprivileged children where they can safely and creatively dream. This is the reason why the Bahay Kubo Learning Center of The Dream Project PH in Negros Occidental was too personal for me. Came college, I met a Lasallian brother who, upon learning about my special dream, told me that if I envision that place to be inspiring and creative, I have to curate on its walls beautiful Filipino artworks. He used to remind me that “building an architecture is a lot easier than building an art collection,” and he advised me to invest my time in discovering, supporting and nurturing new creative talents.
My few conversations with him about art was enough motivation to immerse myself in museums and galleries in Negros Occidental. Because I graduated with a degree in Biology, I took up art appreciation with very scientific approaches, and I found myself studying and analyzing conceptual forms, aesthetics, palette, strokes and techniques. It was a good thing I was born and raised in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental where art and culture are practically everywhere.
Where do you recommend one should go in order to be immersed in the local art scene?
Because I never limit the discussion of local art to only include paintings and sculptures, I always share to people my short city/town itineraries that include visits to churches, plazas, and landmarks for architecture and design; marketplaces and tourism offices for artisan and local products; galleries, art collectives, and museums for local paintings and sculptures; and homegrown restaurants for an updated version and experiential integration of all things mentioned.
Why do you think it is important to support and foster the talent of young artists?
Inspired by the words of Dr. Jose Rizal, I strongly believe that our talented, artistic Filipino youth is the fair hope of the Philippine contemporary art. Because they are born and nurtured in a generation that has the fastest access to information reach and sharing, their works can now capture and represent cross-cultural influences and dialogue even if they are not art-schooled. Not to mention, this same aiding technology has democratized, in so many levels, what and how it is to become an artist, which was once thought to be elusive.
This is the very reason why I am always drawn to support, mentor and nurture young talents, especially those who generously work hard for their families. The development practitioner in me is always overjoyed every time the journey of an artist transforms into a Cinderella story of his own making because he can now provide food on the table and build shelter for his family as a successful artist. We always need to invest in our youth to show them that their good dreams are always valid.
As we see more and more Filipino artists and entrepreneurs emerge, what advice can you give young local artists and artisans in furthering their talent and the industry itself?
For every talent to thrive and be successful, the talent needs to study and understand the history of his or her profession to know how it evolved and continuously progresses, and what worked and did not work in the past. The study of history is a cost-effective way to not repeat and commit the same resource-consuming mistakes of talents who came before them. Because at the end of the day, a talent cannot give innovation and creativity if he or she does not have them. But the good news is, both can be learned and nurtured in the study of history.
Art Fair is just around the corner! What are you looking forward to the most?
I have always been supportive of young and emerging talents. For this year’s Art Fair Philippines, some of my personal favorites are participating and exhibiting their most recent works like Sid Natividad (Ysobel Art Gallery), Kiko Urquiola (Art Verité), Reen Barrera (Vinyl on Vinyl), Nasser Lubay (District Gallery), WIPO (Blanc Gallery), Tiffany Lafuente (Vinyl on Vinyl), Ayka Go (West Gallery), and Jonathan Joven (Kaida Contemporary).
I am also anticipating with much excitement new works from more established and seasoned artists like Renato Habulan (Eskinita Art Gallery), Costantino Zicarelli (Art Informal), Jared Yokte (Blanc Gallery), Jill Paz (1335 Mabini) and Daniel Dela Cruz (Art Cube). I am so excited that I did my due diligence in asking all these favorite artists their chosen galleries for Art Fair Philippines.
The future remains unpredictable, but we do what we can to push things in our favor. We work to someday attain the future that we want not only for ourselves but also for others. Along with Prim’s efforts and his fellow like-minded communities and creatives, one can at least say: the Filipino dream is alive and well.
Follow Prim and The Dream Project PH on the following channels:
- Personal: @primpaypon (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram)
- The Dream Project PH: @TheDreamProjectPH (Facebook and Instagram), @TheDreamProjPH (Twitter)
- Curious Curator PH: @curiouscuratorph (Facebook and Instagram)