MAUREEN G. ABUGAN
Interview by Janice Tang
Maureen G. Abugan (Moe) is a freelance layout designer and office manager
at Summa Education. Maureen graduated from UC San Diego in 2012 with a B.A.
in Visual Arts Media and in Communication, and is pursuing a Master’s in
leadership studies. She currently works in education/business management &
development, and looks forward to returning to creative spaces made for and
by underserved, underrepresented communities. She was born and raised in
Valencia Park and has lived in the San Diego area for 25 years. See some
of their work online <http://maureengladys.info/>.
1| You have been one of NAPAWF-SD’s most active members. What drives
you to stay connected?
NAPAWF-SD was the first post-undergrad space where I felt a sense of
belonging and community, where I felt like we all cared about the same or
similar things, or wanted to hear about each other’s passions, thoughts &
ideas when we hadn’t known of them before. And it continues to serve as a
truly empowering resource for me as a working, queer, second-generation
Pin@y. In terms of involvement, there are a few personal traits of mine
that pair nicely with a budding organization like NAPAWF-SD: I take
pleasure in developing effective infrastructure, in making information more
accessible, and in streamlining design value. I wish you could see the grin
on my face as I am processing just how driven I’ve been!
2| You have particularly done a lot of design and web work for NAPAWF-SD.
Can you share more about how you got into those fields?
In middle school, a lot of my friends quickly got involved in the web
design scene–it was hard not to, with sites like Xanga, AsianAvenue, and
Angelfire was all over the place–so we became self-taught, teenage graphic
designers. Ever since, I’ve trained my eye to be sensitive and critical of
composition, color, flow. These skill sets have allowed me to produce
publications and newsletters for several organizations; from college
organizations to local non-profits to the company I’m with now. Ultimately,
my goal in design is to ensure that important information is accessible to
the targeted audiences, and also aesthetically pleasing. It’s gratifying to
see how making a few changes in a design can greatly and positively affect
how the information paired with it is received.
3| If you had no limitations whatsoever, i.e. no limits on resources,
funding, or physical space, what would your next creative project be?
My project would be to help build and design a community center in PH! A
physical space, especially for youth and young women to be able to go to,
whether it’s after school or on the weekend. I was recently asked about why
I like to create installation art and “take up space”, and I think the same
applies to why I’m interested in making a community center. By taking up
space, I give myself opportunities to choreograph stories that are worth
sharing, worth sustaining, and are possibly resonant with folks who have
led similar lives, or perhaps stories which may offer a different mode of
thinking. There would be a library and study areas, walls and space to make
& share art, conference rooms for local org meetings or group gatherings, a
community garden, a great performance space, maybe even a little bakery and
cafe, or a little sari-sari store for some nourishment! I’ve told a few
friends here and there about this very big dream who have all shown great
support for the idea, but momentum hasn’t continued beyond drafting a
blueprint on Google docs. The timeline will hopefully transpire soon.
4| As someone who has lived in the region for several decades, what is it
about San Diego that keeps you drawn in?
I find that I am able to learn so much about the different meanings and
experiences people have living in SD on a day-to-day basis, mostly through
my job. It makes living here that much more of a compelling choice on my
part. I grew up in a San Diego that was bounded by the military base off
32nd Street and Paradise Hills, but I’ve since lived in Escondido and
Rancho Penasquitos, and also work in Carmel Valley. These latter areas are
still a part of the county, yet they are entirely different places than
what I believed to be “San Diego” for 15 years, in a lot of ways. It
remains absurd and frustrating all at once. For this reason, I am always
hoping to find/create ways to re-insert myself back into the community I
came from, like by volunteering at my old high school or by forwarding
5| What are your plans to continue your involvement with NAPAWF-SD for the
This year, I’m interested in hosting a workshop or two on basic PhotoShop
skills. For example, at this moment, I’m thinking of how folks may want to
learn how to edit a #selfie they took to look “presentable” online, maybe on
their LinkedIn, for job search purposes. A fancy camera and photographer
friend are not always readily accessible resources, and PhotoShop, or
online photo editors like pixlr, are very useful in bypassing the
conventional needs for a “professional” photo shoot. I’d be happy to
provide a tutorial on relevant, applicable skills like that. (Also: if
anyone is able to chime in on resume workshopping, this could easily turn
into a workshop series!)
Want to share a fellow NAPAWF member’s story and passion here?
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