Samm Abella 2 Malaya — The Heritage Font

  • Tauira / Student
    Samm Abella
  • Kaiako / Lecturers
    Carl Pavletich, Graeme Kyle
  • School
    Ara Institute of Canterbury

In dedication to Merla Albao Pacaña,

Malaya is a typographic expression that honours Filipino culture and values. Its inspiration comes from the literary work of Carlos P. Romulo — ‘I am a Filipino’. One particular paragraph reads…

“I am a Filipino born to freedom, and I shall not rest until freedom shall have been added unto my inheritance—for myself and my children and my children’s children—forever.” (Romulo, 1941).

Its overall structure is inspired by "Baybayin", a Filipino script that was widely used before it was supplanted by Spanish colonists. The implementation of the script’s elegant curves onto Latin alphabet ascertains the font as a depiction of Filipinos’ living in western societies and the transformation of our identity.

Malaya’s distinctive feature is the serif. The unique form is inspired by the "Mano", an "honouring-gesture" used in Filipino culture performed as a sign of respect to elders. Similar to hand-kissing, the person offering the greeting bows toward the hand of the elder and presses their forehead onto the elder's hand. This gesture symbolises the transferring of the elder's wisdom blessing the youth in present time to take into the future.

Even though my project is intended for a Filipino audience, much of it is seeking to combine traditional Filipino forms with a contemporary western art practice.
However, this question was brought to light— Will a globalised design system homogenise those cultural traditions?

No, as a Filipino Kiwi myself, I believe that our history needs to always be remembered. The values and heroics of the people that came before us are the reason for our fruitful existence.

Malaya, is a homage to the rich cultural heritage that connects me and other Filipinos to our ancestors as we venture towards the journey that is our unknown future.