Filipino Futurism by Vicente Trinidad Capala III

On January 25th, 2020, Vicente Trinidad Capala III hosted an art show titled: ArtBreak VI. As a fellow classmate and close friend of his who has admired his work since the first day that I met him, I was so excited to see what he had been working on.

Vicente and I are both currently graduate students at the University of Washington, and when we met on the day of orientation, we immediately began sharing our life stories with each other. He was born in the Philippines and grew up mainly in Alaska, where he began to explore his passion for all the different forms of art: from painting to graphic design, videography to theatre. Although he later decided to pursue a degree in business, his passion for the arts continued. “And for some reason, those same artistic opportunities just kept following me,” he said, even after he moved to Seattle three years ago. He described his experience of moving into the Chinatown International District as his own way of rediscovering his own culture.

“While I lived in Washington, I met a lot of very independent, very strong willed Filipinos and Asians, and so I kind of wanted to find my own way,” he said.

On the night of his art show, he revealed six pieces of art, each a different medium of art with its own source of inspiration. The first was a watercolor, and the second was this written poetry titled “Mother, an Unfinished Ode.”

People were visibly touched by it and spoke to one another about how it resonated with them. Capala said he had wanted to capture snapshots of his life while reflecting on how his mother had always been there caring for their family. “That was the first piece that I thought of but the last piece I finished because it’s so hard to really capture words for someone you love,” he said. Although he finds it hard to tell his mother how he’s feeling at times because he can’t speak what was once their common language (Tagalog) anymore, writing this ode felt true to how he was feeling.

Vicente Trinidad Capala III. • Courtesy photo.

The next piece revealed was an acrylic painting titled “Freedom.”

While talking about the inspiration behind this piece, Capala recalled his recurring dreams of falling and flying. “Usually my nightmares are of me continuously falling,” he recounted, “and then in contrast to that, there are these amazing dreams where I’m flying constantly and it feels very freeing… you don’t have the world bringing you down… and you’re just kind of doing your own thing.” As he tries to master the art of balance in one’s life, he thought it would be interesting to mix these two good and bad emotions into one. He also pointed out how the subject can be seen as either fading away or falling in place, “and that was another way to visualize glass half empty half full in my own little way.”

The finale of the show was a graphic design piece titled “Phiuturism,” which was a play-on-words of combining “Philippines” with “futurism.”

For this piece, he was inspired by the Black Panthers and the idea of reimagining the history of colonization in the Philippines. Using the historical background of the eight provinces that went into battle with the colonizers, he recreated the Philippines flag using the same symbols that capture their story. He was really excited to include all these elements and see how he could take imagery that people recognized and turn it into something new. “I think this goes back to my whole rediscovering and journey back to finding my own place within my Filipino culture,” he said, “and I wanted to create this piece to empower Filipinos in a different way.”

A few days after the show, I went back and asked him a few more questions about what art meant to him. “Art is, I think, the most essential version of expression for humans,” he said. I remember him saying this when he hosted a wine and paint night last quarter, where he taught us how to paint a picture of a sunset on the ocean and encouraged everyone to interpret the art in whatever way they wanted.

“The other interesting thing to it is that anyone can also see your art, and see it in their own way,” he said. He talked about how art has always been a great source of expressing one’s emotions when sometimes you just don’t know how else to show it. For him especially, he loves doing all types of art forms, “because I’m always trying to figure out how to say something, and I don’t think I could ever capture it in just one medium… and hopefully, if I keep doing all these things, it’ll all kind of slowly make sense.”

For more of Capala’s work, visit his portfolio:

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