I Thought I Recognised Her - Krishna Buenaventura Mariñas
Krishna Buenaventura Mariñas : Collaborator, Connector, Community Worker, Fashion Misfit.
*Originally posted July 4, 2016.
I’m from the Philippines. People usually ask me where I’m from after I’ve said something, because I have a weird accent. Only a few people have ever guessed my nationality on the first guess, I don’t know why that is. I have an Indian first name, and a Spanish last name so it gets a bit confusing for people, but I say I’m from the Philippines because that’s my heritage. I carry a lot of pride.
You know it’s so weird, when I got my citizenship for New Zealand, and I got a New Zealand passport, you know you’re excited, it’s a new passport, so I opened it, and under nationality it said, ‘New Zealand,’ and that was the first time I was like, ‘shit’, I actually paused for a second and thought, what does this mean? Now I’m getting used to saying I’m from New Zealand, but I never discount the fact that my heritage is the Philippines. I am also proud to live and be in New Zealand, as much as I am of the Philippines. I got my citizenship early 2000s, I delayed it for ages, just cos I was lazy, and cos it cost $600. I moved here in 1996, when I was 13.
I go back to the Philippines as often as I can, last year I was back twice. They’ve just started introducing direct flights there so it’s cheaper. I’d like to go over Christmas time, and my family is massive over there, like my immediate family there’s about 100 of us. So imagine Christmas time, it’s so much fun, and then Christmas here there’s like, 5 of us. It’s just different.
My mum was reading the Bhagavad Gita book, and she just thought Krishna was a pretty name. It’s a guys name, so it’s funny when I’m booking a taxi, I’ll jump in and they’ll be like, ‘Oh, where’s Krishna?’ They’re expecting an Indian guy. I had a lot of issues with that name when I was a kid. They wouldn’t baptise me under that name in the Catholic church, because my Mum is Catholic, so they had to give me a generic Catholic first name. So Krishna isn’t actually my first name on my baptism certificate. When I was growing up with an Indian name, and I’m dark and was real scrawny, so I used to get teased and be called things like ‘Punjab’ when I was a kid. So I used to be quite confused in terms of identity. But now I’ve grown into my name, and I like the fact that if people just saw my name, they wouldn’t have an idea of what I looked like. Have you ever tried googling your name? If you google my name, it’s just a whole lot of Indian guys.
The Philippines was obviously colonised by Spain, that’s why I have a Hispanic last name. Filipinos I meet, I’ll ask them first, just to make sure if they’re from the Philippines, and some of them will actually say, Oh, I’m part Spanish, I’m part Japanese, part American. I find that quite interesting, why do you feel it necessary to name all the countries that colonised us? Obviously everyone has their own journey, and if that’s what they want to say, good luck to you. I find it interesting. It’s like, I’m part Spanish, because they all raped our women, so we’re all Spanish. I find it interesting in post-colonial societies, and I see the same thing I guess with Maori, with the language being taken away from them. More so why I always find it so important to always let people know I’m from the Philippines and that’s my heritage is because I’m proud to be from that country.
When people ask me, ‘What do I do?’ it’s a hard question because I would generally think of the things that I’m interested in that I do, and that’s what I would tell them. It’s not really my job that I say.
One that I really enjoy is collaborating, so connecting people through art, photography, fashion, community work. Things like, working with Eliza to help her with her shop, I enjoy doing that. Working with the Love Movement, connecting people and businesses, I enjoy doing that.
We set up The Love Movement in response to the Philippines, because that’s really close to me. We didn’t want it to be a one-off thing, because of the way that the community responded, we wanted to take advantage of the commitment that businesses have already given us. When Vanuatu, Cyclone Pam happened, we put another event together. For Christmas 2015, we felt it was fitting for us to do something in New Zealand. There was a lot of discussion and negative information about refugees. So we felt it was most appropriate for us to partner with a group that really needs some light, after France and after the Syrian refugee crisis. We’re exposed so much to foreign media, that we forget that we have a refugee centre right here in Mangere. It’s here in Auckland, you know, we forget that. We respond to things on social media, but we can do something here. When we spoke to them, they really wanted a way to inform and educate people as well.
I’ve always enjoyed photography. My Godfather gave me a manual camera, and I set up a little dark room when I was a little teenager. So I used to do all of that then we moved houses, and I got rid of all my equipment and I got a new camera. I enjoy taking portraits. I enjoy getting to know people like that. Photography they say is a play on light, and you use light to highlight a persons face, or in a photo you highlight, or hide things, that you don’t want to see. I think that’s facets of people and their personality as well. You always have your outside personality and your inside personality, a lot of that plays on when you photograph someone.
I’m one half of fashion label ‘Sunday Misfits’ – Amber Booth, the other half, is one of my best friends. It’s so funny, we actually met in the club years and years ago. I was hanging out with my boyfriend, he’s a DJ, and when you have a DJ boyfriend you kind of just hang by yourself. She came up to me and asked me if I wanted to dance with her. That started our friendship, and we became really close. We used to get drunk all the time, and on Sundays we’d be like, what are we doing with our lives? That’s where the name came from as well, Sunday Misfits, we used to party until Sunday morning and then have epiphanies of what we should do with our lives. So we started it two years ago. The way we look at it, it’s not really operating as a business. It’s probably a passion project for us, because we both have jobs. So it allows us to create things that we want to wear, and also work in a way that isn’t time-pressured. For us it’s a journey as well, and people’s tastes change as well. Our tastes now are different to two years ago. I’m getting older now, so I think about what do I actually enjoy wearing now that I’m older. Who do we want to talk to?
We dropped underwear and we’ve got a jacket coming out soon that we’re producing. Its just a lot of time and money that we don’t obviously have a lot of at the moment. So it’s just about doing stuff that’s authentic to us, and doing things when we want to do it, as opposed to trying to push a whole range like normal people would do.
Erykah Badu is definitely one of the influences I have, personally, in terms of style and love stories. I was thinking about when she was talking about all her baby daddies, just her understanding, and concept of what love is. It’s so deep and far beyond For a lot of people, and for me, we translate love through books, movies, and songs, but if we think about it, it’s far deeper. She said something along the lines of, chemistry and connection is different for everyone. You’re connected to different people for different reasons. The depth, or the magnitude of that connection is different with everyone. I guess it’s the same with friends you have, you have your ‘super duper best friends’, and then you have your ‘friends’, and then you have your ‘kinda friends’.