If I remember it right, I first met Christian “Ian” Gesta when our group, Pagbantog Kagayan, organized a special show for Kagay-anons after a bombing incident in one of the city’s major malls. He was one of the volunteers and performers. It didn’t take long for us to become good friends.

However, after our second project, Pagbantog HIV, Ian and I didn’t get to spend a lot of time together. I remember one of our last outings was on New Year’s Day, when he and our fellow Pagbantog members went to Cawayanon in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon to have some fun and cool off. We kept in touch, but we never had another “bonding” moment, and we weren’t able to work on another project. The next thing I knew, Ian was already studying law at Xavier University.

Pagbantog Kagayan

Ian performed in Pagbantog Kagayan’s special show supporting and encouraging Kagay-anons to rise up after a bombing incident in one of the city’s malls.

After that brief “stint” with law school, Ian concentrated on his artistry – painting, something he has always been good at. We saw each other several times and I even went to one of his exhibits. And then we lost touch with each other again, although we always had time to talk on Messenger. When he started working for The SM Store CDO, I was glad to learn that he was finally happy and contented with what he was doing. And then, Covid-19 happened. Once again, Ian was forced to think about his (and his family’s) future. That was how BakeWithChris.ph was created. That was when the new chapter of his life started.

Ian is one of the most talented Kagay-anons I know (even if he refuses to admit it). His transformation (and personal growth) is inspiring, so I decided to feature him as this week’s CDO Personalities. He agreed to answer some questions that can help you – us- get to know him better.

It is also my intention to inspire people to use Ian’s story as an example and proof that if there’s a will, there’s always a way, especially if you know how to work hard and focus on your goal.

1. How were you as a child? Were you already painting or into the arts?

I must say I was a competitive kid. I would always see to it that I excelled at what I did. But, just like any other kid, I had my fair share of losses, too.

In terms of the arts, I had an eye for it but never had the courage to show it to people. It was purely for my personal consumption.

2. Did you always want to be an artist?

I never really wanted to be an artist. When I was young, I wanted to be a lawyer. I even went to law school right after college, but due to life struggles, I failed in fulfilling that dream.

3. What (and when) was your first major art project? The one that first put you in the spotlight?

I could not remember the actual date but it was an exhibit SM Cagayan de Oro Uptown, and it’s all thanks to Jena Morales for giving me the opportunity to share my artwork. I also had an exhibit at the Atrium and that was life-changing. It opened up a lot of opportunities for me.

4. What about baking? How did you start making cakes?

My baking journey started in May of 2020. It was a random day at home; all of a sudden I just wanted try it out, so I baked a cake. From then on, my interest in the craft grew, and so, BakewithChris was born. We are now on our 9th month of baking cakes and other sweet delights.

Classic Yema Cheese Cake by Christian Gesta of BakeWithChris

5. You also did coffee art, right? Can you tell us more about that experience? How did you come up with the idea of using coffee for your paintings?

Honestly, those were my dark times. Coffee art was a clear reflection of how cruel my life was at that time. It was the only outlet that I had then and it allowed me to say what I wanted to say; the ones that I had a hard time telling people.

Ian’s coffee art based on a photo by street photographer Gian James Gamones Maagad

The whole coffee medium was unintentional. I was just making an art piece one day and accidentally splashed a cup of coffee on my artwork. That started the whole coffee art thing.

6. What is/are your favorite work/s?

I really don’t have a specific favorite. For me, every art piece has a unique story and clearly reflects a part of who I am.

7. What is your dream project?

Now that I am into baking, I really dream of having my own cake shop where I can meet with clients and create illustrations of their dream cakes. I dream of having a home for BakewithChris, and this is the reason why I work hard.

8. Who is Christian/Ian the person (not the artist)?

I am shy. Most of my friends will not agree, but I really am shy. My love language is really through actions, so I always share whenever I can. I really don’t see the point of not sharing what you have when God is pouring out so many blessings for you.

Also, I’d like to believe that I am a good son to my loving parents; two of the people I will always be grateful for.

9. Aside from painting and baking, what else do you like to do? Any hobbies? Sports?

I can play sports, but as I grew older, I never had the chance to really play. Never had the opportunity. Lately, however, I got hooked to watching movies and TV series. I grew up not having much exposure to such, so I guess now that I have the resources, I am spoiling myself watching as many series/movies as I can. It helps me explore my creative side even more.

10. Who are the artists you look up to?

I am really fascinated with one of the chefs in our city. She’s Awi Chaves and her level of artistry in the field of baking is really amazing. I am glad that she shares her knowledge with me. She is truly a person I look up to. She inspires me to do more than my best all the time.

11. Do you follow a routine when you paint? What about specific brands or items you prefer to use?

I do not have a routine when painting. I am spontaneous all the time. I don’t paint if I don’t feel like painting. That’s how my system works; I don’t force my creative juices because I don’t want my piece to be half-baked. I am always true to what I paint.

How about when baking? Do you follow a particular routine? Are there certain brands you prefer to use?

In baking, things are different since it is strict in terms of following certain steps. So, normally, I would always begin by preparing the needed ingredients and the things I will be using. Then from there, I will be following a procedure unique in whatever cake I will be baking. Baking is really consistent with exact measurements, so you really have to be focused on what you are doing.

As to brands, I have a few of which I like using, but I am also open in trying new things.

Christian Gesta of BakeWithChris
Christian Gesta of BakeWithChris

12. How are you coping with the Covid-19 new normal?

It’s not easy for me to get through my day-to-day tasks, but I am making the most that I can to be productive. There was a time that I was asked to go on forced leave from work, and this allowed me to really find ways to earn a living. The new normal allowed me to go beyond my comfort zone.

13. What are your plans post-Covid-19? Any current or upcoming projects? An exhibit, perhaps?

I still have no exhibit plans yet, but who knows, maybe an opportunity is just waiting around the corner? I am always open to possibilities. I plan to continue baking, though, and to someday find a home for BakeWithChris.

14. What message would you like to impart to aspiring artists, especially in these difficult times?

Stay calm and cool. I mean, like it or not, this pandemic is our reality for now, but it should not stop us from becoming the artists we want to be. You can still fulfill it and reach your dreams – if you really want it.

If you want to see more of Ian’s artistic creations, follow BakeWithChris on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bakewithchris.ph.

And if you’re looking for something unique (and satisfying) for your loved one this Valentine’s Day, check out The Creative House’s special offer that includes a special treat from BakeWithChris. Read about it here.

Here are some of Ian’s beautiful and delicious cakes. Take note of the intricate artistry in each of the cakes. Every baking masterpiece is proof that Ian is an exceptional artist.


New Year 2021 Cake by BakeWithChris

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