Author: Chia

Let me mentor you

Reading Time: 5 minutes

If you’re a Filipino student/early career individual interested in design and/or creative technology looking for a very fresh-out-of-college mentor to talk through career woes, projects, or anything design/creative in general – read on, I might be a fit!

Who you are

A student or early career technologist based in the Philippines looking to explore product design or creative technology (which generally means software engineering with an artistic bend). You don’t have to have a portfolio, any specific major, internships or formal work experience under your belt (I’m happy to help you if you’re looking for work—but a demonstrated interest in product design/creative technology is preferred.
e.g. You’re already spending time investing in your exploration of this path, even if there aren’t any artifacts to show for it – you have a grasp of why you’re interested in this, and you think mentorship is going to help accelerate your desired outcome. I’m going to be a bit annoyed if you’re asking me if X career is worth it, because that’s a question only you can answer for yourself and the millions of variables only visible to you, and because it would be more generative if you have the conviction to risk / spend time on a career path that you 1.) are truly, intrinsically ‘passionate’ about, or 2.) believe in for external reasons (because is a lucrative career and is genuinely good for moving social classes). I don’t care which one.

I prefer students who are in college, but I might take on high school seniors. (I will not help with college applications.) If you’re early career (say, 1-2 years out of college max), note that I’m not even one year into full-time work myself, but if you think I’d be helpful then this might still work out. (If you count internships, I’m ~2.5-3 or so years in.)

I’d also prefer students who don’t already have strong connections/networks (e.g. you don’t have a lot of peers around you pursuing the same path, or product design resources/communities in your school). I’m also particularly interested in students who are looking to develop a product design practice that draws from design-adjacent interests/practices (beyond like, an interest in art to make illustrations to use in designs – I mean unconventional/weird intersections), whatever that means to you.

Who I am

I’m a Product Designer on Figma‘s Prototyping team, presently living and working in San Francisco. I care about poetic applications and expressions of technology through tools and net art, in pursuit of my dream to make the act of creation truly ubiquitous and to gather all the people I love in one place – and how I think the internet could be one of those places. As a designer, I’m strongest at interaction design, strategy/product, and probably have lackluster visual design skills compared to many of your peers.

I was born and raised in Manila and went to school at De La Salle Zobel before somehow getting into Yale for college. I graduated last May 2022 with a degree in Computing and the Arts (basically Computer Science & Art each taken distinctly), so less than a year ago. I worked a lot through college (jobs, internships, orgs, & personal work – across two continents), stressing a lot over identity and career.

Previously, I interned at Spotify, Kumu (working part-time for over a year), Rappler, and other small startups – my first was an internship at while in junior year of high school. Community building is central to my practice: I also founded/run Developh way back in 2016 and founded/ran Design at Yale (once a chapter of User Experience Society). I made dozens of ‘side projects’ while in college and high school, including a large Genshin Impact community, cassette archives, and lots of net art. I like to teach (workshops and speaking at a lot of design conferences), and write a lot (this blog, and some select pieces). I’m physically distant from the Philippines (presently, for many reasons outside of my control) but try to be closely involved in its technology industry with Developh and other communities.

For a sense on my product design philosophy, it might be interesting to skim over a talk I previously gave at UX+ (Design is Fantasy).
Here’s my CV and my design portfolio. Other links:, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn.

Outside of work, I’m trying to sincerely be an artist (focusing on ‘ambient art’ through internet art and play with analog media; this is another ‘game’ I’m learning how to play and break into). I go to a lot of concerts, like long Lav Diaz movies, DJ, volunteer at radio stations, and field record.

How we’ll talk / What I get

We start by emailing, meet each other and discuss general goals from the mentorship and whether it’s a fit. We can determine a frequency to call (maybe 45 minutes every 3 weeks?) and also exchange numbers/Messenger details so we can DM any other time.

I’ll do my best to help with any general career/academic questions, provide career assistance like portfolio & case study help, practice interviews, do my best to provide intros to anyone that might be helpful, provide copious amounts of references/links/books/articles of relevance that truly changed me that might change you too, discuss side projects/influences, and the like.

In exchange, I’d love to learn about your thoughts on the Philippine design/creative technology industry, how your academics/extracurriculars play into your design education (if you’re a design student, I’m genuinely curious about your assignments/readings; or if you’re into orgs, weird cultural practices/events you do), any raw thoughts and frustrations you have about the process in general.

I don’t like charging for mentorship—I would never have a mentor if I had to pay for it. I’m mostly doing this because I’d like to more actively have an understanding of the student/early career design landscape. I also have to say that I haven’t really had a mentor (outside of my managers in jobs I had), which is part of why I’m interested in doing this.

I care about the tech pipeline (this is why I work on Developh, which I’ve also done hundreds of hours worth of portfolio reviews for), have many thoughts on tech worker movements, an active research project chronicling internet communities new and old, and am interested in improving upon the fast food-esque UX bootcamp education that pumps out formulaic agency workers to cultivate more deeply empathic, creative designers that use whatever little capital we have to radically reimagine existing systems. You don’t have to believe in or know what this means, and I’m happy to debate/discuss this more. There were many, many moments where going to an elite institution made me feel small, unsure, and unsupported (e.g. I was never taught how to best maximize my resources) and I couldn’t relate to many of my peers who were either 1.) back home in the Philippines and dealing with a completely different set of problems that I tried to always make my problems too, or 2.) were incredibly privileged and simply live drastically different lives with different priorities, resources, and tools than me. A lot of this is also just hoping to make one or two people’s lives a bit easier: the system is difficult, already works against us, and I want to focus on making your life easier / reimagine this entire process eventually.

Let’s do this?

If you think you’re a fit, just send me an email at with a short introduction about yourself, any of your links (socials/resume/portfolio/LinkedIn/etc), and why you’re interested in 1.) mentorship (towards what?), and 2.) why specifically mentorship from me.

I’ll take on the first 1-2 people who message and seem to be a fit.
I’ll edit this post once those slots are out.

a full february, futile imaginations

Reading Time: 6 minutes

I’m back from a few weeks in New Haven. It is not a new revelation, but nothing really is; we know what makes us happy, I know what I like and what I don’t like, I know what I need. I get it and then the whole world on fire is collapsing once more, it is burning but not ever touching me.

In New Haven I wake up to clocktowers, stare at ceilings far grander than I ever thought I would see (the type that my parents might have only seen in European museums), fall asleep half at a hotel with at least four Yale paintings (so you know you’re in New Haven) or in a Twin XL bed in a dorm room building with white people talking about nothing interesting in the room over. I wear my partner’s Aliexpress slides and it’s the only time where we can really go shit together. I am reminded that I am just 22 and could be pulled into any world at all. I am unmistakably a victim of this life: it is all over me. I cancel on half of my friends and do not know who are my friends anymore. One person who ignored several of my texts asks me to answer something about a Google Drive for an article they’re writing; we worked together at the Yale Women’s Center for three years and this is all I have become to them. They write decently but are incredibly uninteresting. I stress my partner out because I am printing one hundred books (not two hundred, I correct him) and made him haul my printer (that was at Kevin’s) to the hotel room. To be fair we Uber’d there, so we just had to bring it down the stairs and up from the car. One weekend we are at a bicycle co-op for a zine fair and the next we are in New York with four of our friends, failing to go gallery hopping but succeeding at a Uniqlo haul. We eat overpriced vegan food at Public Records and see the most beautiful ambient show of our lives. We are all falling asleep in the train and it is maybe one of the last times we will ever be this combination of selves again. I am careful to be precious with each moment. I accidentally pay the expensive Public Records bill on the creidt card that does not have cashback. Another day we are drunk on Valentine’s day morning running through the art gallery, and another night I lose my glasses when we run from a late night happy hour through the streets. I am so in love. Sometimes I am sitting and realize that I am so in love and my body feels so light because there is so much that can come out of all this love. When we are walking through a shitty Feb club party a drink spills on me but he still puts his hand over no one’s glass to prevent anything more. I am finding new bathrooms still in old places. I get pissed because I want to DJ and I wasn’t able to find a place where I can DJ.

At the same time we barter whether we are better people because of where we have been. I am exchanging my sense of self for nothing.

I am so moved by this trip that I finally write a bit about my college graduation. Some people who commented were assholes to me at a teenage leaders’ conference, others are billionaires. Only few people know the lines, as only few people know how to read between the lines of my sad post that is a forever cry for help. I did not win this race yet.

I’m home and I am forced to feel that my body is connected. Something runs through the right side of my throat, such that when I drink water my ear is pierced with a sharp, stabbing pain. I am so scared to eat, chew, swallow. When I try to induce the disorder this is what it must be dreaming of. If I speak and let saliva pile up, I am induced to move my jaw and it feels so violently painful that I would rather starve. I must sleep in a certain way, avoid speaking unless absolutely necessary. Only warm water passes through without something aching. I am on the same bowl of soft pasta that I cooked four days ago.

Last last night I had another violent dream where I imagined my friends old and me still in their lives. I thought about them with all their dreams fulfilled: the risograph machine and all her drums, the dance studio in the house, the garden running from the windowsill to the backyard, my friend married to her high school lover and my other friend in independent and fulfilled defiance. We were all dancing in each other’s small lives and then it was everything. I ugly cried about all my loose projections of their selves, so far from what might 1.) actually bring them happiness and 2.) what we would actually see. I rooted myself again in the best idea of a future I have: where I’m with them in hearing what they want in this tumultuous time of ambiguity where we all don’t know what we even are and don’t know what we could become. I thought of the small thing I bring in their lives, this many times unimportant inkling of who they are (already, or who they are going to be) that they can’t quite name for themselves. I am standing with them until they can name this part of themselves.

When I say it, it sometimes sounds sad but it has always been more matter-of-fact. I never thought I would be the type of person to grow old. I can’t think of myself in the long-term, which is why I do things like buy concert tickets months in advance and beg people to make things with me that might outlast me. I am not interested in legacy as much as being, even if it seems like I’m at direct odds with the ‘being’ part. In the dream I wasn’t there at all. I was a witness to everything instituted, to the wedding and the wine ritual. I had known where they were, what brought them joy, to have been a part of this lifelong act of self-definition: and then it must have been close to a prayer, that realization that this is all a quest of definition and fitting one another in. I was everywhere without needing to see it.

Nothing new came from the dream but the realization that I want to be a continuous part of molding a world that is better for the people I love; that I want to continue using any bit of social capital and power I accrue to give back, that I want my life to be the platform and gathering space for those I care about, that I want to continue connecting people my whole life and be the crossing point, that I want to see my worlds intertwine forever and ever until we are all just natural consequences of one another. What is my life but a vessel for everyone else? What am I holding but the consequence of it all? To believe in people I had to picture myself there as well: that there was this form of communion that we all contribute to no matter how much we abandon our own selves, that there was this grace of being invoked by ‘being’. I wanted the selfish ability to see the people I love around, and thus I had to be alive. No amount of narcissistic fantasy/imagination could fill these gaps in, one of the few parts of living I can’t conjure for myself. I want to keep seeing us until we all know who we are.

art exhibits!

I’m trying to explore the art world because it seems like one of the safest avenues where you can gather people around work and share it — and I’m so pleased to share that I’m showing my work at two exhibits around London! 

SWORDS AND KISSES (March 23–26) is a group exhibit presenting trans visions of non-linear time-space presenting the queer technology of fantasy, worldbuilding, avatars, fanfiction, and more. I’ll be showing a variety of my websites and games as well as speaking at this March 25th panel remotely! 

NOW PLAY THIS is a festival of experimental game design at Somerset House in London. We Are Only Moving Towards Each Other will be showcased alongside some crazy names I can’t believe I’m next to..!

Here’s my Patreon update with work details, past and upcoming. If you appreciate my writing (work, or self), a subscription or one-time donation helps both financially and cognitively because it fucks with my head that people care enough about what I do to support it with money you have earned elsewhere (in the nicest way possible).

Writing a novel

Reading Time: 9 minutes

In my last year of high school I was working on college applications in an island province in the Philippines and no one understood why I was so stressed or what I wanted to get out of it. No one was willing to listen to what was painful to me.

I began this act of studying myself on paper more rigorously than anyone had ever afforded me—a scrutinizing and extreme new when this was never an expectation. I was supposed to live in ignorant bliss and to bend to people and pray—but instead, I looked inwards.

In a time where I had to ‘teach’ my teachers how to write recommendation letters and in turn learned how to lie and write in voices that weren’t my own I spent every break in the guidance counselor’s office pointing at what she needed to click so I could get my fucking fee waivers until I couldn’t get the fee waivers than had to starve so it wasn’t a financial burden until she told me to just submit my college applications myself while she recited her password to me while chewing on food and I hadn’t eaten a single meal in school within that three month trimester. I wrote more things about myself than what was ever spoken about me, which is a bold claim when you’ve hated yourself into distancing in a school where you spent thirteen years of your lives with everyone else.

I was so agonizingly exhausted of making and unmaking and making and unmaking myself that I felt like I was about to go insane. (I must have been insane and might still be.)

I wanted to believe that there was a world in my head that wasn’t all about who I was (even if I could never separate the writing as an extension of what I wanted). I wanted to believe that there was a voice I could conjure that was just not telling me what I wanted to become (until I realized that all writing is an extension of the world we wish we could live in). I wanted to live in someone else’s head after deciphering mine. In my last year of high school I wrote a novel.

So I wrote a novel in a winter break where I didn’t remember anything except writing about myself and hating myself and wondering what had become of me to get to this point and a breakup and a million other breakups and more fighting with my family and more pain and praying to get out of this world and writing about a new world.

And then nothing became of the novel because it did what it needed to do: I wrote it to understand all of this until my Microsoft Word was breaking and I had to split it into segments and never sent excerpts of it to anybody. Would I be able to call it a novel if no one ever saw it? What if it gave me everything I needed? I determined that everything I do for myself must, in its collateral damage, be done for everyone else as well. I grounded myself a bit and understood that this world was not the only one that was out there for me, at the precipice of a radically altered life and the throes of one that I had tunnel visioned myself into believing I could escape. Yes. I was nowhere and then I was in this world I made.

Despite, despite, despite, despite: I wrote a novel.

I want to write a novel again because everybody dreams of writing a novel and everyone can write a novel but no one actually does it. It’s absurd how it’s one of the easiest things you can do: put a pen to a paper and start writing some words, watch your cousins drunk at the corner of the wedding and asking you why you never talk while you’re there deciphering why this room might be part of why you’re so fucked up on your iPhone 4, and again I am writing again. I wanted to write without distance. Every time I felt like I was breaking I was writing. I was writing because there was this need to instill what I was feeling in a moment into words, lest I am never able to capture it again. So I was writing.

I like the idea of writing a novel, and I like the actual act of writing a novel. It’s helpful to like the idea of something before you get into doing it. It’s helpful to convince yourself that you enjoy doing the things you like. I like the idea of writing a novel because of what it does to me, and I like it when I can accept that there are things I like the idea of because I like what it does to me and sometimes we need to acknowledge that we are humans who like the ideas of what things do to us and that this is a premise never really divorced from the being. I like the idea of writing a novel. If I could, I would be writing a novel forever. I want to always be writing a novel.

I don’t think the novel has to be good. If it was good then it is good. But I want to write a novel even if I have nothing particularly interesting to say and even if I am bad, and my life has been filled with so many disinteresting things that even what I choose to reveal can’t help but be a bit disinteresting, too. I want something to be reflective of myself and a completed novel isn’t reflective enough: I want all my broken promises flayed, I want my imperfections nestled in everyone’s minds, I want my words to live uncleanly for the rest of time. If I was good then it would be good. Whatever it is, it must be. I want to write a novel.

I’m thinking painfully about self-publishing and authorship; particularly that I’ve fallen into a life where I share things that have no traditional or historical precedent to be gathered around and I think this act of making myself visible and palatable and sharing it all is actually distancing myself from everyone I love. I have been vomiting a lot, not eating, and what somehow hurts most is the fact that my friends don’t like my Instagram posts. I am thinking about my ways of self-expression and perhaps I should just revert to doing it for my own sake; which involves this convoluted journey of distancing myself from the belief that my artifacts are my sense of self-expression and memory—the most surefire way for me to have made record of myself. What can I do when no one can tell me who I was before I started saving pieces of myself? No one is interested in the records or the story of my life. It is time to make again, to understand myself—whether I become important in that conquest, or whether I continue this life lonely and isolated and important only to myself. The world ends when I deem it no longer important. I’m coming awfully close to being disinterested in everything and all of my relations. I’ve seen the dirt and the skies and fallen in love with everything and now I am killing the love I have left for myself. Maybe I will write a novel.

I want to write a novel because I want to be the type of person who is saying they are writing a novel. If I do nothing in particular in a day, if I’m sitting down drinking a chai latte at a cafe, once the hairdresser is taking out my depression knots one after the other and trying to make conversation, once I have to face my friends and make myself interesting, if I’m on a flight and the man asks what I’m doing before asking me to get up and fuck off—I have something interesting to say. I’m writing a novel. They will then look at me, the sad 22-year-old thing I am, with more delight and astonishment or nothing at all. I will be a sad thing or a beautiful thing. I will become a thing. I will make them feel something today. “This person told me that they’re writing a novel.” Already in these few, brief, powerful words we have made an assessment of grandeur and delusion of someone — refusing to trust that anything could come out of it. I will become as small as they want me to be, and I will maybe make them feel good. I want to write a novel.

I want to write a novel because I have no good reasons for it and because everyone really has a good reason for it. The good reason comes once they have found what they are going to write the novel about and have finally made themselves interesting. I am already narrativizing myself and everything before me. Wouldn’t I be the perfect author? I am lying so much and hold so much and there is so much I have yet to be. When I am everything and nothing it will be an interesting response and identity, I think, to be the person who is writing a novel. I will have something to look forward to and also nothing because the novel becomes the project of my life and the novel becomes the one thing I can hinge on and I might be too complacent and happy that my being is sufficient and anything can be strung out from it, even if nothing of it is particularly holy. Each word I put on paper would be a new extension of myself and I would wield the terrible agency to make and unmake and make and unmake the self and no one except those who dare to read would ever consume any of it. Every page and note and error and mistake an extension of myself, my brutal humanity in words. What I devote myself to, what I have deemed worthy of devotion. When I am doing nothing I will be writing a novel. When I am sleeping I would be writing a novel. When I am living I would be in this grand process of putting myself down as other people might one day see me. I should be writing a novel.

I want to believe in self-publishing in the way that I do making anything: that I alone can name what is valid, that I don’t need a third-party actor to validate or legitimize my beliefs. I want to write because I have to understand myself; I want to write because mostly, I want to deem myself as someone worthy of understanding. I want to write because there must be some artifact that comes out of this, because I have always believed in preserving myself and believe that I’m torn in a life of constantly preserving myself to no one’s interest and I have to again, convince myself that the story of what I devote myself in this brief life to has meant something—even if it is only to myself, seen for myself. I hate how we have attached the production of the book to a need to be legitimized, verified, consumed by a third-party — it has ruined our relationship with human knowledge, production, and people. It has turned culture into a commodity, which is not a new plea or revelation at all, but it just dawned on me how painful it must be to have seeped into even the simple declaration of writing.

This is an absurd plea at self-importance. Is there anything more narcissistic than the act of writing a novel? Do you know how much of a fucking asshole you sound like when you say you’re writing a novel? Do you know how much the world laughs at you and forgets you when you declare that you are going to make something, but haven’t even made yourself important? Do you know what to do when the world has stripped you from everything you have held holy, everything that you have poured your heart into, because they can’t remove themselves from their own capitalistic relationships with the mediums that you care about? Do you know anyone who even reads? Not for the Goodreads style of reading, but to read to determine what is important, without the list? Do you know if someone can make themselves important? Do you know anyone who would save you but yourself?

I wish we could all write novels. I wish we could all be writing the story of ourselves. I wish we were all in love with the idea of each other putting something out into this world, of a concretization and a self-definition that we are never given the chance to explore. I wish we could take what we think of as impossible and never put it in each other’s mouths. I wish writing and making was a visible act and self-publishing was worthy of gathering around so that all of my loved ones and I could be writing our stories and that the witnessing there was enough. Or the self-witnessing. I wish it wasn’t seen only as a self-surveilling thing to care about the artifacts that you leave after you die—because it is in precisely this lack of care over what legacies we leave, or the ability to even declare our legacies and how we might be memorialized, that there is a collapse. I wish my life were extending forevermore.

I wish I was writing a novel right now because I have so many novels left to write in me. I have so much to say and it hasn’t even begun. I must write and live and stargaze and dream and become and witness and love and live and see and be in this constant process of being, presenting, living. When I am so sick of knowing myself I will turn to a novel even if it is again, an act of meeting myself on the page. I love words because there is only truth in them. I love being a novelist before I have become one because when I am a broken thing, even when there is nothing in me, I can say that I am writing a novel — and no one would be able to take that away from me. I wish I could save myself. I wish this would save myself. I wish we all had books that captured our lives, even if only a fragment. I wish we could have the artifacts of a life that someone had dictated for themselves, in a world where we understate how much we mean to each other.

Maybe in the next months I will get rid of all of myself after a life of only me carrying me. Maybe it is time to have another thing that contains me. Maybe it is time to see myself in something that is not myself. Maybe I will write a novel.