1. Ryan Villamael is a Laguna native
The artist was born in Laguna, less than two hours away from Manila. The province is famous for two of many other things: It's the birthplace of Jose Rizal and is home to one of the Philippines' natural wonders, the Pagsanjan Falls. The 29-year-old was raised in Cavite and now lives and works in Quezon City.
2. He's wanderlust in a human form
Or at least, his art depends on it. Think you're the ultimate go-getter and travel addict? Villamael's most noted work is called 'Isles', a collection of old maps he's cut out and assembled into bell jars. The collection earned him a Fernando Zobel Prize for Visual Arts at the 2015 Ateneo Art Awards, an award given to Filipino visual artists below the age of 36 for outstanding work. Just check out the intricate lattice work, re-introducing traditional paper-cutting to the modern viewer.
3. He knows how to whip up your appetite
What a sight for sore eyes. Imagine coming home to a wholesome meal made from scratch, by a pair of skilled hands that you know have spent the day creating something inspirational.
4. He's been pretty much hands-on all his life
The University of the Philippines alumni (who graduated with a degree in painting) had an early start to building his own mini-sculptures. As a child, Villamael had shared that he collected discarded objects such as sticks to build castles and was inspired by his architect father to build items with Lego. One of his first jobs? A stint at McDonald's.
5. He's created an alternative greenhouse in Singapore
Something you'll get to see for yourself when the Singapore Biennale 2016 opens, Villamael's work for the exhibition is titled 'Locus Amoenus', which is Latin for "pleasant place". The artist implores you to escape into what he calls an "ideal landscape", which he has created out of cut-outs from old and new Philippine maps. It's not just a pretty picture — the maps stand to represent different portrayals of his country's long and complicated history under colonial rule. To say that Singapore's familiar with colonisation herself is an understatement — 'Locus Amoenus' is aptly situated in the section where the façade representing Singapore Art Museum's colonial architecture from 1852 still stands.