No One Left Behind: Christine Dy's Fundraiser for Displaced Dogs
Everyone probably had the experience of begging their parents for a pet. “You’ll have to feed it and clean after it everyday,” they warned me. I said yes, already thinking of what to name my future pet: Chairmeow for a cat, Dog for… well... a dog (don’t question my kid brain). They got me a fish (named Fish Fillet) which in hindsight, wasn’t a bad place to start, given that I showered it with way too much love, affection, and fish food. It swam to fish heaven within two weeks, leaving me devastated. The bottom line? Pets are a big responsibility.
Luckily, Christine Dy’s world revolves around Boba (not the boba that you think). Christine is the proud mom to a one year-old golden retriever whose fur is the exact same color as milk tea. She already considers Boba as a member of her family. So when she saw photos of dogs stranded on a roof, struggling to swim through dangerous waters during Typhoon Ulysses, she knew she needed to act immediately.
As a graphic designer and dog lover, Christine uses her design work as a platform for compassion and responsibility for displaced dogs.
“I was actually making a design to promote adoption first. I’ve been seeing a lot of posts about dogs and how they were gonna be euthanized and I was thinking, maybe we can encourage adoption using another platform rather than just social media posts. And then the flood happened and I saw the posts of the dogs stranded on the roofs. I was seeing a lot of fundraisers for displaced people but then a lot of the LGUs were asking the owners to leave the dogs behind. It really broke my heart because as a dog owner, I knew I just couldn't do that.”
With encouragement from her friend, Sofia Padilla, Christine shared shirt designs online which she planned on selling to raise funds for the stranded dogs. I myself took one look at the design and was immediately hit with nostalgia coming from Lilo and Stitch’s promise of Ohana.
“No one left behind,” the shirts read, a simple yet powerful statement that has reached out to so many people, dog owners or not.
“I was just expecting 200 orders. In a span of an hour, we got 1,500 so we had to close it at 3,000 orders. There was big support from the community and people really wanted to help!” Christine exclaims. “When the orders came in, I had a moment of panic. The first person who offered me help was my friend, Juliene Sicat, who told me to message anytime. Then a lot of people came along! There were so many willing to volunteer and they did it all for free! So from our small goal of just being able to feed the dogs, we were able to fix shelters.”
Did you reach out to all the shelters or did they kind of find you? It seems like everybody found you at the same time, as if everything just fell into place!
“Grabe talaga! First, I saw that PAWS was doing rescue missions and then San Mateo pound where we saw the dogs on the roofs. That's one of the few pounds that doesn’t have a kill policy in Metro Manila! A lot donated food but they needed more funds for appliances and repairs. While waiting for the breakdown of costs, people would comment about other shelters that were having a hard time! I realized that a lot of them were lesser known ones. Luckily, we were able to allocate enough funds and supplies for them. We even were able to buy this beneficiary a bahay kubo for dogs so they could take in more! We were just so excited, shopping for dog food, collars, water, and canned goods. We were able to set aside 120,000 pesos just for dog food so we could divide it among all the shelters. Boba had so much fun sniffing everything!”
“Honestly, it wouldn’t have been possible without our buyers, volunteers, and supporters! For me, it was just like a small step to design a shirt and come up with the idea. It was everybody that brought the vision to life.”
Speaking of the shirts, how did you come up with the design?
“The idea sparked when the typhoon hit. My dog got really soaked so I made him wear a shirt haha! I was just staring at him, realizing he had a home, a roof over his head. What about the other dogs out there in the rain, scared and trying to survive?”
“I was thinking about the copy while looking at the posts. Parang if your dog is too big, they couldn't bring them in the boats because people really had to be prioritized. It was just something I thought na no matter the age, no matter the size, you shouldn’t give up on them, especially in times of crisis.”
What’s something that you discovered about yourself or the people around you?
“I think that it’s just Filipinos really do come together in times of need. Like a lot of these people, I’ve never met. They helped me reply to inquiries and pack supplies, it was just so nice to see that everyone wants to help.”
“The idea of bayanihan was really there and it was a beam of hope for people who were struggling to keep their shelters up and alive.”
I’m sure you were busy even before the whole project. What was going on with your life then?
“I was doing my graphic design and freelance work, and then I’d have side projects and painting. I really had to shift my balance between work and life. I didn't get to do much of my freelance work last week so this week took a toll! I was pressured to hit so many deadlines, it came to a point that I wasn’t able to walk Boba for a whole week! I wasn’t able to spend time with my family since I was always on my phone trying to work.”
“It made me think about what I was doing with my life right now and how I should trim it down to be able to see my project to the end and still be able to continue my career as a designer. What really clicked was freelance work and my project.”
“I had to let go of my full time job because it wasn’t something I was willing to do long term. So far, it’s been very liberating!”
Given the nature of your project, can you share your thoughts about art and design in social action?
“Designers are more open to sharing their opinions now. They’re not afraid to take a stand which is really good because you have to advocate for what you believe in.”
“What you have to hold on to as a designer and artist are your values and your advocacy. Sharing what you believe in is really how your work can reflect you. Anything else can change, like your style, your thoughts, your ideas. I was trying to dip into different industries and what really stayed the same was my values.”
Finding a style seems to be a concern for a lot of people. You can try different styles or mediums, but as Christine states, your values should stand strong. In her case, it’s simply a love for Boba - an adorable dog that I’ve admittedly been stalking on Instagram for days and hoping to get a glimpse of throughout the zoom call. “It’s just something that you feel strongly about. That’s how you show your best work!”, Christine adds. “If you could pour out your passion and experience positive or even negative feelings, you can create art.”
It’s been a great year for Christine and we’re so proud to have such a talented and thoughtful designer in our community. As we wrapped up, we asked Christine what her biggest lesson was. “Hard question,” she admits, but drops one of the gems of our zoom call conversation, something I myself hope to carry into the new year.
“Be passionate about the work and confident enough to put it out despite it not being good enough. You will grow, but it has to start from somewhere.”
Written by Cate Cue, Artdrop Creatives Team