Art as resistance in #UnitedPeoplesSONA

Photo by Carlo Manalansan/ Bulatlat

Highlighted among visual protest arts is the steampunk-inspired effigy “DuterTRAIN: Pagsagasa sa Mamamaya” made by artist collective UGATLahi. It was referenced from the socio-economic crisis that followed the passage of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.

By ADAM ANG
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — While the Philippine Congress reopened its regular session with a raucous turn of events hours before President Rodrigo Duterte had to deliver his third State of the Nation Address (SONA), some 40,000 individuals joined together in a broad protest demonstration as it staged a parallel United People’s SONA.

Photo by Adam Ang/ Bulatlat

More than people shouting chants, waving flags, and flaunting banners, various artists and cultural groups staged performances, installations, art works and other creative displays of protest last July 23, amid the spate of killings and crises across sectors in the so-called “wars” of the Duterte administration.

Photo by Adam Ang/ Bulatlat

Highlighted among visual protest arts is the steampunk-inspired effigy “DuterTRAIN: Pagsagasa sa Mamamaya” made by artist collective UGATLahi. It was referenced from the socio-economic crisis that followed the passage of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.

It features a rusted face of President Duterte with wheels depicting the Nazi swastika which defines the supposed fascist character of his regime. The train’s body shows on one side a pig, crocodile, vulture and snake, clad with business suits, portraying Filipino bureaucrats and oligarchs. On the other side, a Chinese dragon and an American bald eagle are seen manipulating the whole train.

Photo by Adam Ang/ Bulatlat

Like the same fate of all other effigies, it was burned later in the program as “a sign of the people’s resistance and desire to junk the TRAIN law,” Lumawig Lao of the artist collective said.

While burning, individuals and artists from different bands performed and sang protest songs. Among the performers were Tubaw Music Collective, General Strike, The Jerks, Pangayaw, Chikoy Pura, Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP), and even Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Secretary General Renato Reyes or collectively called as #StopTheAttacksCombo.

Photo by Adam Ang/ Bulatlat

“As people’s artists, we believe that our art should be displayed among protest demonstrations of the broad masses,” Edge Uyanguren of Tubaw and CAP said.

“We will use our art if it takes to oust a president; art as a weapon to combat all forms of violence and abuses.”

Representing the grief and rage of relatives of victims of extrajudicial killing (EJK) is a sculpture of Inang Bayan called “Mga Anak ko ay Pinapaslang” worn with a black veil and held a long black scroll of the names of Duterte’s drug war victims. A performance by artists and media network Respond and Break the Silence against the Killings (RESBAK) was staged, while a “People’s Litany for Justice” was recited by families of the victims who cried out names of those slain.

Photo by Adam Ang/ Bulatlat

But the People’s SONA was also festive. A 20-piece percussion ensemble called “Dagundong” by youth from the Tanghalang Mulong Sandoval performing arts committee of Sining Kadamay (Sikad) played a street theater performance to Mulong Sandoval’s 1975 poem, “Ang Kanilang Mga Karapatan.”

Throughout the march, the beats made through their recycled percussion – fashioned with drums and jeepney tires covered with clear packaging tapes – made a resounding call to the neglect of social services and attacks on the livelihood of the urban poor, such as the jeepney phase-out under the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program. Yet, it was also a celebration of their unity.

Photo by Adam Ang/ Bulatlat

“The urban poor made their beats noticeable as they are long neglected and discriminated. They weren’t heard. Besides the expression of rage, this is also a celebration of unity and promise of the youth to be active in leading the struggle of the urban poor,” Edwin Quinsayas, head coordinator of Sikad exclaimed.

The women of #BabaeAko Coalition, UP Artists Circle Sorority and UP College of Fine Arts Student Council flaunted their sculptural float called “Mahiya Ka sa Puki ng Ina Mo” depicting the head of President Duterte stuck in the vagina of a woman giving birth to him.

Below was the face of President Duterte smashed by different materials, such as pens, crayons, brushes, pencils and a megaphone, showing various forms of resistance against the regime.

Activist Mae “Juana Change” Paner of #BabaeAko was seen clad with a pink dress where a heart is drawn at the center, inscribed with words “women vs. Duterte.” The women are fighting against macho-fascism and misogyny with our hearts all-out with love for the country,” she said.()

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