MUNI Meetup on Creativity and Collaboration: Design and Art For Change

The recurring theme at the Muni Meetup: Creativity and Collaboration last August 15, 2015, was the true meaning of being “creative”. More than stereotypically being skilled with a brush, having an eye for colors, or being able to sketch like Da Vinci at the drop of a hat— creativity is perceiving the world in unconventional ways, actively turning imagination into innovation, and raising the ordinary to extraordinary.

Moreover, as individuals with our own varied experiences, ways of thinking, and stories to tell, we each have a unique sense of creativity. Thus, collaboration serves as the key to building upon each other’s creative strengths, a vital way to channel one’s creativity beyond oneself and instead, allow it to move and impact more and more people.

Imagination & Innovation For A Cause

Each of the speakers at the Muni Meetup are notable Cultural Creatives, who, in their own ways, use their talents, know-how, and ingenuity as platforms to raise causes and messages they feel passionately about.

As the founder and chief collaborator for Muni, Jen Horn spoke of Muni’s aim to promote sustainability as well as conscious living, and foster this “culture of caring” by spearheading events like Muni Market, which showcases local makers of mindfully created goods & services, and Muni Meetups, sessions that spark insight and ideas on socially and environmentally enriching topics of conversation.

“Do good with what you do well,” Jen encourages. We have our own areas where we can excel at, whether it’s an artistic talent, geekery, rhetoric, organizing people or spreading the word. When you can shine (however humbly) in a specific area, remember to shine the spotlight on the dim, unseen corners of this world too.

Lester Cruz, the co-founder of branding and design company, Serious Studio, is committed to this mantra of “doing good” as well. Along this vein, he mentions working with Rags2Riches, Inc. an eco-ethical fashion brand by and for Filipino artisans. As he shares Serious Studio’s design concepts for the branding and web content of R2R’s “Ampersand Collection”, Lester asks, “Why not design for people who need their voices to be heard the most?“

Another firm believer in the notion that art can communicate and, even better, spark change, is AG Saño, “Dolphins Love Freedom” artist and environmentalist, who has travelled across the Philippines and the world and has seen, firsthand, cruelty against marine life, as well as the detrimental effects of war and violence. He has since vowed to paint a dolphin for each one that is caught, as well as paint peace murals, as an advocate for both conservation and peace.

On Collaboration

AG’s story about his longest peace mural, which is 3.7 km and also happens to be the longest in the world, is a testimony to the power of collaboration. As the labor of love of 6,000 people, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines and volunteers of all ages, AG is a firm believer in the notion that each person’s contribution is significant in being a part of any great solution.

Aside from learning to hone one’s own creativity, the resonating message of this meetup was that there is so much to learn from the way others craft the unique spins on their lives as well, and to be inspired by the way they make use of their creativity to make the world an all-around better place. As Lester mentioned, “Do good, and like-minded people will gravitate to you.”

On Using Creativity To Tell Our Stories

As attested to by these speakers, each person has a story to tell. We, as people, simply lived storied lives. Stories are, thus, much more than just for books or cheesy movie narrations—they are the way we make sense of our lives and the world around us. [1]

Words Anonymous typing up haiku pieces on recycled paper for attendees to take home

Creativity is, thus, finding the middle-ground between telling your own personal story and voicing out the poignant stories you believe the world needs to hear.

Words Anonymous, a team of spoken word artists in the Philippines, introduced their performance by saying, “We believe that all stories deserve to be heard … We aim to give voices to those who cannot speak out.” With their pieces that tackled topics ranging from depression, to catcallers, to body positivity, Words Anonymous showcased the power of words and emotional expression as a compelling art form.

On a last note, creativity is anything but black and white. Rather, it is colorfully interdisciplinary. Everyone possesses a creative gene; therefore, it ultimately comes down to finding your creative niche, and then finding, and banding together with, the people with creative niches that complement yours.

Creative-minded speakers, volunteers, and attendees at the August 15th Muni Meetup on Creativity & Collaboration at Shutterspace Studios

Needless to say, this Muni Meetup left the author with a sense of respect and empowerment from those who’ve courageously chosen to go after their creative pursuits in spite of a society that can often underestimate and undervalue creative ventures. It was a breath of fresh air in the midst of our busy, bustling routines, a pleasant reminder to feed our creative souls, and an invitation to play upon our own creativity and others’, as well, to turn the ideas we can only imagine into endeavors that have the ability to change the world.

Join our upcoming Muni events on creativity for good too! Check out 99U Local: Manila on September 16, 6PM at the Ayala Museum, and THRIVE & Muni Market come October 24-25 at Capitol Commons.


[1] Short, Kathy G. “Story as Meaning-making.” Nal’ibali. N.p., 4 Dec. 2014. Web. 18 Aug. 2015. <>.

#art #collaboration #creativity #AGSaño #dolphinslovefreedom #creative #Munimeetup #LesterCruz #wordsanonymous #ShutterspaceStudios #seriousstudio #jenhorn #spokenword

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