My name is Kristian Kabuay, an artist specializing in the indigenous writing system from the so-called Philippines called Baybayin. When I internalized what Baybayin meant to me, I realized it was a gateway to our pre-colonial past and what it meant to be living in a post-colonial world.
When I learned about how we were named “Filipino”, it blew my mind. I also learned about the 1849 Clavería Decree where we were given last names for tax purposes. Since then, the name Filipino has always struck a cord with me. It’s what we’re known as. An umbrella term that also marginalized other indigenous cultures within the Philippines in favor of Manila/Tagalog based one.
Instead of saying pre-colonial script, I coined PreFilipino script to describe Baybayin as social experiment. I recall getting funny looks and questions to explain what I meant by PreFilipino because they’ve always thought of us a Filipino.
I’ve been making shirts since highschool as a way to express ideas. I did get into that whole Sun & Stars but it became superficial. I wanted something deeper so I scrapped all the designs I knew that would sell and strictly used Baybayin and a PreFilipino lens when designing.
While design is important to me as an artist, the message is more important. It’s my intention that people look at the apparel and dig deeper in their own history to live in the present and seed the future. Each piece has a story about the duality of the Filipino diaspora that may not always have answers but will definatly raise questions.