Meet Yen Baet, A Canossian!

Yen Baet is a Filipino photographer and another inspirational Filipina to be featured on Fil-Am Ako. One of her photographs has been selected as one of only six finalists in the National Geographic Photo Contest, which is based in the US. Baet happens to be the only Filipino who made it to the finals, and is very proud to represent the country. However, the winner will be determined by public voting and that’s where she needs the support of her fellow Filipinos and Americans, since only US legal residents are eligible to vote.

We all know that our very own Efren Pe├▒aflorida won the CNN Hero of the Year by public voting – this goes to show you how fierce and determined Filipinos are when it comes to showing their support for their fellowmen and getting recognized around the globe. For these reasons, it surely would be a historic moment to put a Filipino in the National Geographic map. National Geographic, which was originally based in Washington DC, is a prestigious institution. The magazine has worldwide circulation in 33 language editions of nearly 9 million, with more than 50 million subscribers. This is no small feat and Yen Baet shares her story on why you should support her efforts.

Please tell us who you are.

Hello everyone! I am a full-time photographer currently based in England. I am a full-blooded Filipina born in a little-known Spanish town called Ozamiz in the island of Mindanao. I grew up with almost no permanent residence in the Philippines having moved around constantly due to my father’s work. Raised in a modest middle-class family, I spent most of my school years in San Pablo, Laguna until my family moved to San Fernando, Pampanga where we finally settled.

I discovered my artistic talent at about 10 years old, when I ambitiously took on the Mona Lisa and painted her on a poster board using only an 8-color watercolor set. I only had a small black-and-white encyclopedia print of Mona Lisa and a creative imagination as my guide. Several years later, when I saw the real Mona Lisa in full color and with my own eyes at The Louvre, I wept in disbelief.

I dabbled in this type of visual arts up to my teen years, while I also discovered my love for writing. I found that this type of artistic expression was different from painting in the sense that writing, as a medium, was not only cathartic, but also powerful.

My love for writing has led me to pursue a writing course in college where I finished with a Bachelors degree in English. As a writer, I had my works published in various forms of literature in the Philippines and Japan. I’ve also worked briefly as an editorial assistant to the late Filipino maestro, Redentor Romero.

My life as a transient during childhood has continued through adulthood. It is both my love for travel and what I would consider fate that has taken me to different parts of the globe. I immigrated to the US in the early 90’s where I also got my citizenship, lived in Japan and Germany, and I’m now currently residing in England.

I used to consider myself a painter, then a writer, and lately, a photographer. Nowadays, I’d like to think of myself as merely an artist with a camera and a vision. And while I don’t have an extensive experience as a photographer to speak of yet, I would like to make my mark in this competitive field without time, race or gender being an obstacle.