We have decided to launch a new intimate style of interview into TheAppWhisperer – the world’s most popular mobile photography and art website. We feel it is important that our community feel close to each other, as it is this support that helps us to nurture one another, gain confidence and continue to grow.
This is our second interview, we published the first yesterday with myself, if you missed that, please go here. Today, we are publishing a passionate, thought-provoking and thoroughly accessible interview with fascinating artist, Sarah Bichachi. This interview encompasses art, love, nature, health and politics. It is a true meditation on the power art has to transform our lives. Enjoy this read as Bichachi helps to demystify our world…
What was your childhood or earliest ambition?
Being an only child who grew up close to an Electronics Engineer dad, I wanted to be an astronaut. But my mother thought such things were only for men, so she bought me a piano that I easily fell in love with. I would play it for her friends, dance and sing for them in her parties. I know they enjoyed it because I would get gifts after. I was seven years old. I also loved to draw faces on the blackboard in school… landscapes on my notebook covers, and curvy things on my hands and arms with a ball pen. I made nice drawings in my science experiments too. I loved doing them. Looking back, somehow I knew art was in me, in spite of my strong inclination to Science.
I was enrolled to a Catholic school in the Philippines, Divine Word University. When I was in Grade 6, my school teacher trained me for a vocal solo contest during our Intramural’s, and I won. Since that time, when our First Lady, Imelda Marcos, came for a visit (she is from our city and went to the same University), I would be a part of her welcoming entourage, singing her favorite song. Sometimes I’d be asked to join the dance team and perform in operettas as well. That time, it was those art forms that were popular in our school and community… and it was what my mother wanted. She was a proud stage mom.
My first job was a twist of fate. Being a member of a Drama and Radio United Group in the University uncovered my talent for writing…. essays, poems, mini scripts for drama. I was still in college when I applied for a part time job in a local tabloid funded by a government agency, and was accepted as feature writer. But this didn’t last long because the University offered me a scholarship to train in the Philippines’ biggest cultural center, CCP. In return, I would be the official choreographer, handle the University dance troupe, open a dance school within the University and teach dance classes, finish my college for free! That was my first real job. The school went well. I trained my dancers for a National Dance Competition and won a National Award…. a plus to my University and our small city. That was my first professional achievement in my real first job as an artist in the field of dance.
Private or state school?
Our city is a small plateau that thrived on agriculture and fishing. Our public schools were poorly maintained because we are a third world country. But we were just lucky to have a University funded by SVD priests who were mostly Germans… and very lucky to have a Duke’s son for a University President. We had the best books in our library, the best laboratory equipments and the best college courses a University could offer because of donations pouring in from Europe and the United States. From primary to college… I grew up in one school, Divine Word University.
University or Work?
I was enjoying both. I love to learn. I also love to work. And I was a responsible absentee in school. When the Dance Troupe had to go on our rural outreach programs, I would ask my teachers the things I needed to learn for that period and do my own study when I wasn’t rehearsing. I loved those days. They were fun and one of the best days of my life.
Who was or still is your mentor?
I had many. Still have many. Mentors have differences in ideas. Those teachings that work for me, I keep. Those that don’t, I discard. I am quiet a soul searcher, very much willing to learn whatever there is to make my life better from someone I see as a credible person with reliable knowledge…be it intellectually, spiritually, or aesthetically. Some of them have gone… like my father. Some are still coming into my life as I speak. And I am very grateful to have learned from them. But the one thing I consider a mentor that remained all through out my life until now is my gut. Being an only child, I guess I have learned to rely more on myself and my own strength. That was what my father always taught and reminded me. And that was what my mother showed me until her last breath.
How physically fit are you?
I was physically fit for my age (I’m now 62) until I was diagnosed with invasive lobular carcinoma on my left breast. I had to go through the regular treatment plan of chemotherapy, radiation, mastectomy and reconstructive surgery… not to mention the anti hormone medication that I have to take for five years. I battle my chemo brain and cancer by learning new things and playing selective video games that will enhance my brain function, choose a healthy diet, exercise and do Phoneography, the newly found love of my life. Phoneography played a huge part in my recovery. Since my body won’t take a foreign substance for my reconstructive surgery, I had to go through abdominoplasty and graft the abdominal tissues to my breasts for symmetry. It was a challenge in making this choice, but I am happy to fit into my old jeans again. My doctors are happy that my recovery is doing well and fast, and in a month, I believe I will be back on my feet and move on.
Ambition or talent: What matters more to success?
Ambition can be driven by many factors. I am particular with the driving force of a person when aiming for success because to identify oneself with those forces most often lead one to disaster with the rise of the ego to toxic levels. Talent is born, but when not fully developed, can also lead to failure. In my opinion, firstly, it is the love and dedication one has for his craft that will make him excel in it and succeed. Secondly, education. Anyone who wants to succeed in anything must be willing to learn and equip himself with the knowledge of how to go about his endeavour. Ambition and talent is not enough. True success radiates love, compassion … a sense of well being and a feeling of accomplishment not only for the body, but for the soul as well.
How politically committed are you?
Politics for me is an ideology born out of passion and tribal instincts(power and greed) rather than logic and critical thinking. That is why we always have wars and chaos, in spite of the improved means of communication and education provided by science and technology. If our politicians were critical thinkers, we wouldn’t be having the problems we are experiencing today. I would rather stick to encouraging people to educate themselves so they can be fool proof to the nefarious machinations of politics.
What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?
A healthy body. I am still not cancer free. With a healthy mind and body, acquiring all other things I want to have is feasible.
What’s your biggest extravagance?
For myself… not much, really. I am happy staying home with my gadgets, tweaking them forever. But for my family…. I will not hesitate to spend for anything I can afford to make them happy.
In what place are you happiest?
I have always been away from home to make a living. The place I am happiest is home… with my children.
What ambitions do you still have?
When cyclone Haiyan hit our city in the Philippines on November, 2013, I lost everything… my ancestral home, our farm. So many people suffered loss and devastation. Although my hometown has now improved, poverty still plagues our city… our nation. I want to help my people. Help create an agricultural industry that will give them jobs, decent homes, proper education for their children… uncover their talents and skills, promote our cultural heritage through the arts. That would really be awesome!
What drives you on?
My love for life. My love for my children. My love for art.
What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?
Although I have acquired some other achievements in life, the greatest, I believe is being able to raise a family and see them grow to be responsible, decent adults who can stand on their own.
What do you find most irritating in other people?
I don’t even think about it. It will only make me miserable. I keep an open mind and don’t let myself get carried away by other people’s hang-ups.
If your 20 year old self could see you now, what would she think?
I think my 20 year old self would say “You made it, girl! Go, go, go!”
Which object that you’ve lost do you wish you still had?
My ancestral home was something that my mother valued so much… because it was her dream house where I was raised… and my children, too. And with a swift of a giant surge, it was gone. So if we go for a vacation back to the Philippines, we don’t have a home to go to anymore.
What is the greatest challenge of our time?
We are on the brink of suicidal extinction as all scientific facts lead to that conclusion. But science is being politicised. Greedy capitalists control the pharmaceutical industry contradicting the true goal of science… which is to help humankind, not destroy it. Science is not an ideology like politics. It is a tool. It is sad that some people don’t realize that.
Do you believe in an afterlife?
When I was having my chemotherapy, I was too weak to do anything but tinker on my iPhone. It was then I discovered Phoneography. I was browsing an advertising on iPhone photography that I discovered how to use editing tools and change photos into works of art. As I started immersing myself with my new discovery, I noticed a shift in my consciousness… a sense of awe… of excitement… that I totally forgot about the toxicity of the chemo ailing my body! I call it a transliminal state of mind. And it played a huge part in my therapy and healing. With my experience, I came to realize that there must be an entity in me residing in my brain that can detach from my body when experiencing awe… in my case, editing my Phoneographs. And if this entity can detach from my body, maybe, when we die, it just goes somewhere else since it is a form of energy. I am Catholic, I believe in a Supreme Being, I am a spiritual person, but I am not a fan of religion. With the experience I had though, I am convinced the possibility of an afterlife is feasible.
If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?
I don’t think I’m ever satisfied. Is that bad? But it’s easy for me to accept things as they are and be at peace with it, enjoy it, make the most out of it even when I’m face to face with Death. Satisfaction will kill my curiosity, my desire to discover the unknown… to keep moving. I still want to experience so much more … learn so much more… see the future when we just can’t paint photos on our mobile devices but get to be in them… experience them with our senses through virtual reality! My lifetime is not enough to understand even just myself… my brain, my consciousness… and my lifetime is too short to understand and experience the wonders, beauty and mysteries of our universe!
Contact Details for Sarah Bichachi
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