“The effigy showed how workers see Aquino – a snake, a traitor to the Filipino people and a shameless lackey of the US.” – Kilusang Mayo Uno
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – As in past celebrations of Labor Day, this year’s Labor Day protest showcased an imposing backdrop for the program from noon to evening from Liwasang Bonifacio to Mendiola Bridge (now Chino Roces) near Malacañang. Workers and artists affiliated with the labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) created another mural, and an effigy, depicting the ordinary Filipinos and their plight under the government. Since it was established in 1980, the KMU traditionally leads the longest and largest Labor Day rally in the Philippine capital and other Philippine regions. As in past May 1, the mural is intended for continuous exhibit even after May 1, but the effigy, as representation of powers that workers say are oppressing and repressing them, was burned before evening of May 1.
The colorful mural, measuring 15 by 24 feet, depicts Aquino dressed as a clown and hounded by workers, peasants, urban poor and other sectors of society while hanging on an airplane being piloted by US President Barack Obama. It was unveiled at the program in Liwasang Bonifacio this Labor Day.
“These depict suffering and lies being inflicted on the Filipino workers and people by Pres. Noynoy Aquino III,” Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson, said.
“This mural also shows the growing anger of the Filipino workers and people against Aquino’s anti-poor policies, betrayal of the people, and puppetry to the US. Anger at Aquino’s propaganda stunts aimed at deceiving the public is intensifying,” he added.
The mural was created by veteran painter and printmaker Orlando Castillo, former president of the Art Association of the Philippines (AAP) and founding member of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP), using acrylic on cloth. Workers from various KMU unions reportedly helped in creating the mural.
Meanwhile, the 10-foot tall effigy created by artists from UgatLahi Artist Collective depicted Aquino and Obama as two serpents around an electric post. It was inspired by the symbol for universal health care, which, under the Aquino government, has meant making the not so poor and not so sick – by government definition – pay for the health care of “the poorest of the poor.”
Filipino health workers have condemned the Aquino government for forcing through the privatization of healthcare and treating it as for profit rather than for public service. This Labor Day, artists close to the labor sector created an effigy to depict not just the conniving U.S. and Philippine presidents, but also, as they showed, the deceptive way in which this connivance is being presented to the public. Not unexpectedly, this effigy, though product of weeks of hard work, was mocked and then burned by leaders of progressive organizations this Labor Day.
The effigy, according to Labog, “showed how workers see Aquino – a snake, a traitor to the Filipino people and a shameless lackey of the U.S. He condones the hikes in power and water rates, in prices of oil and other basic goods and the privatization of public hospitals.”
“The burdens on Filipino workers and the urban poor are getting more and more unbearable because of Aquino’s subservience to the dictates of the US and his big capitalists cohorts,” Labog said.
The effigy was part of the Labor Day program at the Liwasang Bonifacio. It was marched near the front of the long lines of rallyists from Liwasan to Mendiola, where it was promptly burned amid singing and chanting of peoples’ demands.