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Teddy Catuira: From FPJ, Susan Roces commercials creative director to art curator |

Arts and Culture

Teddy Catuira: From FPJ, Susan Roces commercials creative director to art curator

Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo -
Teddy Catuira: From FPJ, Susan Roces commercials creative director to art curator
Marco Yuchengco Santos a.k.a. MYSAN (right) with “Persistence of Passion” exhibit curator Teddy Catuira / EC Toledo

MANILA, Philippines — When commercials creative director Teddy Catuira first met Marco Yuchengco Santos, he was a fresh Ateneo de Manila University graduate — an intern and copywriter.

Decades ever since, Santos rose from the ranks and put up his own tech companies, even becoming the founder of one of the largest free Internet Service Providers, EDSAMail. Fast-forward to today, Santos is embarking on a new chapter in his life — as the full-time artist MYSAN. But through it all, through the years, one thing remained constant: Teddy is still Marco’s friend and creative director.

Although not an artist, Teddy has been in the creatives industry all his life, mostly as creative director for TV commercials and other ad campaigns. Among his latest was a TV commercial with screen legend Susan Roces, whom he worked with in her iconic RiteMed commercials until the “Queen of Philippine Movies” passed away last May 20, 2022.

“I miss Tita Susan. You know, 11 years of working with her for RiteMed, one of the highlights of my work,” Catuira recalled in an interview with

“I have never worked with an artist who was so supportive and considerate of production people. Sila ni Manager, si Manager si FPJ (Susan’s husband, Fernando Poe Jr.), I worked with Manager also before he passed. And sila lang ‘yun, konti lang ‘yun, they really look after the daily rates, the crew, grabe.”

But if Marco’s life changed when he left decades of corporate world for art, so did Teddy’s when Marco approached him to become his exhibit’s curator.

For Teddy, there was no difference between being an art curator and a creative director.

“Walang nag-iba sa dynamic namin ni Marco because we worked before. Walang ego involved,” he shared. “So years after, when he started doing art, parang gan’un din ang papel ko. As a curator, parang creative director din… This is a group of friends working together, helping each other out and that’s it.”

For “Persistence of Passion,” MYSAN's baptism of fire as his first solo exhibition, Catuira had a simple curating approach: Do the work, the curating just comes afterwards.

“The curating happened after the work kasi I don’t want to dictate upon him what the narrative or the expression will be. He needs to first do and when I saw the pieces, let’s go this way, this way…” Catuira explained.

Apart from being his friend, Teddy believes MYSAN could make it big in his new career path since he has the Midas touch to turn everyday objects such as wood and fire into masterpieces.

“He has a lot of passion in himself. In fact, for the most part, that’s the struggle. Ang dami n’yang energy, so we need to focus it and direct it, so pareho pa rin ang papel ko — creative director — Marco dito tayo, ‘wag tayo d’yan, dito tayo,” Catuira said.

Yes, being a Yuchengco could help Marco get a sold-out show, but beyond a familiar family name, Catuira believes MYSAN has a true talent that he could contribute to the art world.

“He has a very good network to begin with. So we don’t think about that and in fact, we don’t think about that, period. Kasi this is about what he wants to do. This is about what he wants to express,” Catuira said of how “Persistence of Passion” is MYSAN’s personal metaphor to his overwhelming drive for his art using blowtorch on tempered glass, wood, acrylic paint and recycled bottles.

“The whole narrative of Marco is he’s expressing his passion. So will people like it? I don’t know. Will people buy it? I don’t know. Do we care? Not so much! Because it’s just for expression.”

Like the recently lava-spewing Mount Mayon, some of MYSAN’s artworks in “Persistence of Passion” escape their frames.

“I think what’s key is the overflow to the background because the overflow is the one that tells you, this is passion overflowing. Lumalabas sa frame. That’s why the look escapes the frame.”

Whether coming from a prominent family or not, Teddy believes any aspiring artist could rise up to challenges like MYSAN because MYSAN’s message through his “Persistence of Passion” exhibit is to “Just keep working on it” and “just keep doing it.”

“I keep reminding him, ‘Gawa lang nang gawa.’ That's it. That’s the only way to express, that’s the only way to learn. Be with people that he admires, work with people that he looks up to, and then just keep doing the art… It sounds simple but it’s a challenge to keep coming up with works,” Catuira said.

“Tira ka lang nang tira, may lalabas lang nang lalabas and next thing you know, may gem ka na. Mayroon ka nang wow, this is it!”

MYSAN's “Persistence of Passion” is on view from June 15 to July 1 in J Studio, La Fuerza Compound, Chino Roces Ave., Makati City.

RELATED: Fire starter: Marco Yuchengco Santos leaves corporate world to be an artist at 53

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