posted Mar 4, 2011, 7:15 PM by Diego S. Maranan   [ updated Mar 4, 2011, 8:07 PM ]

As soon as I learned that there was a summer course offering for the BAMS program, I immediately considered enrolling to at least lessen my course load for the next semester, and at the same time fast tracking the BAMS program for me who is already desperate to finish the BAMS program a shortest possible time. However, the moment I learned that the topic for the course was about the Biomodd project, I immediately began having second thought in pursuing the subject, mainly because I didn’t seem to appreciate the project then. The first time I came across Biomodd was via Diego’s e-mail to our class, prompting us to get involved with the project that seemed quiet strange to me then. When I clicked on the link to the Biomodd’s webpage, I became more anxious and a little curious as well. Generally, I wasn’t really impressed about the whole thing and even had a weird feeling about it.  However, my desire to earn a course and to make the most out of my summer time prevailed, and I soon found myself filing a slot for the Biomodd’s first co-creation meeting at the UP OPen University, although I had not yet officially enrolled for the subject at that time.

Meeting the Biomodd team in Los Banos was quite an experience as well as a challenge to me who is not very much used into speaking English as an everyday language. We had to, since most of the members of the team are English speaking, particularly Angelo who originally created and brought the idea here. I’ve learned a lot of things about Biomodd during the first co-creation meeting, coupled with a lot of exciting experiences with the team. We’ve had an adventurous hike within UPLB’s Botanical Garden and in the other ecological spots around the campus. We immersed ourselves with the natural beauty of the surroundings as we looked around and picked some plants and materials for the project. I began to realize the many implications and wonderful aspects of the project, especially with regards to promoting community collaboration and about the possible harmonious co-existence between ecology and technology, particularly digital technology. Slowly, the initial prejudice that I had before about Biomodd began to vanish away, while at the same time my mind began to think of other possibilities in line with the principles of collaboration and arts-technology fusion exemplified by the project.

The seminar sessions that we had also provided a way for us to express our opinions and personal reflections about Biomodd and the philosophies around it, while the laboratory activities had been a way for us to showcase our creative and aesthetic skills by constructing the initial parts of the installation. One of the most remarkable things I learned with the project is about the concept of collaboration, wherein much can be achieved if people of different backgrounds and abilities gather together in agreement to accomplish a certain goal. I think however that collaboration entails more than just the formalities involved in the process of agreement or even the liberal allocation of one’s own talent and property for the goal. But it has something to do with the underlying motive of harmonious co-existence between the collaborators themselves. To consider the dynamics between the different personalities of the team is also a key factor to a successful collaborative endeavor, as it has always been repeatedly mentioned in Biomodd, that “it’s actually not just about the goal (result), but its about the process”.  Biomodd, an art installation itself, was conceived to be a living sculpture that grows alongside the process of collaboration amongst us. How it will grow into maturity will greatly depend upon the dynamics of our collaborative efforts. In other words, Biomodd will reflect the quality and extent of our cooperation.

This is what Biomodd embodies to me. This local version of the installation that we’ve had agreed to put up together should reflect our very own culture of “bayanihan” (“voluntary community effort”) spirit, whereby people did not just come together to pursue a common goal but to establish a heterogeneous relationship towards each other, placing great emphasis on graciousness and courteousness called the “pakikisama” or “pakikipagkapwa” (“human relations” or “social intercourse”), customary among Filipinos. This should characterize the collaborative process of the Philippine version of Biomodd, because we are not trying to infuse foreign culture into the process/project but we want that the project itself reflect our innate culture. The modern phrase of “trabaho lang, walang personalan” (“duty only, nothing personal”) can be sometimes helpful and applicable on certain occasions, but I believe that the Biomodd project is an advocate of communal endeavor that consequently synthesizes the different personalities and backgrounds of each person involved in the project.

Collaboration calls for sensibility and sensitivity towards each other in order to maintain cooperation/collaboration, especially when people in the process hardly knew each other very well. There were some instances however that I observed when this so called “collaborative” aspect of the project is being negated. In spite of those, I still firmly believe in the Biomodd advocacy. I view those circumstances as birth pains that can lead to conception of further ideas and strengthens our personality. I see them as part of the dynamics at work that synthesize or fuse us altogether as a team, being diverse parts in the Biomodd process, just like the fusion between arts and sciences or symbiosis between ecology and technology. Truly, Biomodd is more than just an object, it’s a PROCESS.

I am excited to see the final result of this project. I have now become more interested in sharing myself, my thoughts, and my actions to this endeavor in my own humble way. I hope that as the days go by, more and more people, especially those who have taken part in the collaborative process, would see more marvelous and wonderful things with the project. I feel fortunate now thinking I have made the right decision of taking the summer subject after all. I see also that this will go beyond towards this coming semester. Let’s go team!

Leo Olivades