Interview: ‘Why’ graffiti artist

“The reason is really personal. Even if you pay me, I won’t tell you.” And then he ends his sentence with “hi-hi”. It was the “hi-hi” surprised us. We couldn’t believe that all afternoon long we’ve been communicating (via SMS, Facebook, and email) with the guy responsible for the ‘Why’ graffiti pieces that adorn walls in Pasig, Makati, and Taguig.

He is an advertising professional, who until a year ago, didn’t even know who Banksy was. “I thought Banksy was a band,” he tells us on email. He refuses to say how old he is—“let’s say I’ve been around,” he offers—and he still doesn’t have an alias. “I haven’t brainstormed it yet but I guess for the moment, you can call me ‘the why guy’.”

We texted him first, and then we chatted with him on Facebook, and then he disappeared, then he texted us his email address. Despite the lack of information, we are certain he is who he says he is. Because we saw him make his stencils. Aaand, he even gave someone we know a ‘Why’ stencil (see picture above).

Hi! Thanks so much for doing this!
No problem. Sorry if I go offline unexpectedly, bawal ang FB sa ‘min.

Ha-ha, okay. So what’s up with ‘Why’?
Ha-ha, that. It’s a long story. The reason is really personal. Even if you pay me, I won’t tell you, hihi.

Okay, let us ask this question instead: What’s the end note, the effect, that you wanted?
Let me put it this way: You know when you’re pissed, or when you have a problem? Di ba you feel better when you talk to someone about it? Even if the person you talk to doesn’t give a shit, it just feels good to let it all out. That’s all I did, only in a bigger way. And when I see people posting my work [online], it makes me feel better. Parang they actually care.

Why

When did you start bombing?
Street art, about a year pa lang. Believe it or not, my 14-year-old pamangkin influenced me. His idol is Banksy, so I got interested, too, with Banksy.

Before your nephew, you had no clue whatsoever about the culture of street art?
Absolutely none. I thought Banksy was a band. So when he introduced me to him, that’s when I got interested in street art. I wanted to try it out, but I didn’t just want to do it for no reason. Gusto ko may purpose din.

So what is your purpose?
It was pollution. I really hate pollution, specifically smoke belchers. I HATE SMOKE BELCHERS. So I started posting my first street art.

Ah, so ‘Why’ wasn’t your first project?
No, I did cats wearing gas masks. And I used duct tape. I posted several of those cats, maybe a dozen. The first one was at URC factory in Pasig.

Why
Okay so from cats…
It then evolved to other forms. Sorry, I [could’ve shared with you the album on Facebook but I] deleted it just yesterday because nahuli ako sa Ayala last Sunday.

Wow, what?!
Yes! That was crazy and kinda of scary. It was around 4am. I was bombing for about three hours na, when a guard flagged me down and eventually, the whole Ayala security force ganged up on me as thought it was a major crime! Apparently, Ayala isn’t very fond of street art.

Is this the first time you were caught?
No. That was the second. The first was weird. I was spraying and I heard a motorcycle stop behind me. I was ready to give up but I just sprayed on and the guy was just watching me. I turned to look, he was a barangay tanod.

Okay, so what happened last Sunday? What time were you able to get off? And how?
They eventually let me go after making me erase all my work. In fairness naman, the main security chief was kind enough to hear me out.

How did the cat become ‘Why’?
Two months after getting into street art, around November/December, naging ‘Why’ na siya.

Why is there no question mark to your ‘Why’?
Because it’s a rhetorical why.

We’ve been seeing ‘Why’ around the Pasig area, a few in BGC and Makati. Where in Metro Manila can we find the most ‘Why’s?
BGC, I guess.

What’s the strangest place you’ve bombed?
I’ve tagged a couple of buses and some FXs.

Very traditional, we must say. How do you pick your locations?
Where I do it has to do with the reason I do it.

 

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We spotted #why again! This time in Barrio Kapitolyo in #pasig. Have you guys been seeing this #graffitti too? Tell us where! We’re so intrigued! #streetart #metromanila #cocomnl

View on Instagram

We spotted #why again! This time in Barrio Kapitolyo in #pasig. Have you guys been seeing this #graffitti too? Tell us where! We’re so intrigued! #streetart #metromanila #cocomnl

View on Instagram

 

How often do you go tagging?
Whenever I feel like it.

Do your parents or your girlfriend or your boss or your person-to-call-in-case-of-emergency know you’re ‘Why’?
No.

Do you work with other street artists?
No, I work alone.

Well, would you like to work with other street artists?
No. I don’t know any of them. What I do is a personal thing, it may even be just another phase in my life. An interesting one [if I may say].

Do you have a long-term plan for this? Banksy has brought his art from the streets to proper art galleries.
Like I said, baka phase lang to sa buhay ko. But as long as there are people who like what I do, then why should I stop?
 

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