UT IN OMNIBUS GLORIFICETUR DEUS.

UT IN OMNIBUS GLORIFICETUR DEUS.

UT IN OMNIBUS GLORIFICETUR DEUS.

UT IN OMNIBUS GLORIFICETUR DEUS.

UT IN OMNIBUS GLORIFICETUR DEUS.

Friday, April 29, 2022

 COLUMNISTS

HUMAN FACE

‘Mural revolution’

Whether she loses or wins in the May 9 national elections and becomes the 17th president of the Philippines, Vice President Leni Robredo’s run for the highest post would leave physical, indelible marks on the landscape. Her supporters and volunteers, many of them young and first-time voters, have been painting the town pink with predominantly pink murals on walls, buildings, and other private properties made available for artworks that reflect what Robredo stands for.

ADVERTISEMENT

Among the first to appear on the landscape after Robredo announced her candidacy in October 2021 were huge LED displays on tall buildings, but later, countless murals began to appear on concrete walls along roads and side streets. These were not commissioned works but created by Robredo’s supporters, many of them in the cusp of adulthood or supervised by older known artists who were only too eager to join the challenge. In other words, these murals were group or community efforts, the product of creative minds and hands. There was no stopping the energy.

“Pader lang ’yan,” could very well be the dismissive remark about these murals by Robredo’s critics; they are nothing but paint on concrete that could fade in time, defaced with graffiti, or worse, urinated on by tambays and other male creatures. So far, no photo of a mural with a “Bawal umihi dito” warning has been posted on social media. No need for that. These creations invite respect and goodwill because of the messages they portray. Still, one cannot discount vandals to suddenly come into the scene to smear and smudge.

Speaking of “vandals,” the first on the scene were local law enforcers who whitewashed the murals in Isabela province. After appeals to the Commission on Elections and making clear that private properties should be exempt from campaign display rules, those murals were restored. I do not know if the local government compensated the creators with fresh cans of paint. Think of the effort and cost that went into the making of those murals. With doubts cleared, more murals came to be.

Religious sisters have joined the painting frenzy by offering their concrete convent and school campus walls to be painted over and doing some painting themselves with the help of artists from their communities and schools. No such activity has been witnessed in past elections and now, even while social media hold sway, nothing beats on-terra-firma displays of support.

A huge part of the Good Shepherd Convent wall in Quezon City now has a mural extending from Aurora Boulevard to Batino Street with their schools’ alumni helping even while it rained. Last Christmas, the much-visited Good Shepherd compound in Baguio City, a favorite tourist destination, was decked with pink parols (stars), a Filipino Christmas symbol. And so were many other convents and schools, like the Benedictine-run St. Scholastica’s College in Manila. A wall of a nearby property of the Benedictines now also has a mural. The Holy Spirit Sisters have also offered their property wall.

Speaking of parols, the Leni-Kiko campaign rally in Pampanga on April 9 saw the Kapampangans pulling all the stops and showing off their giant lighted parols that they are best known for. It was like Christmas in April, so what?

Not far from where I live is an eight-panel mural on the Queen of Peace Convent wall of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (the ICM Sisters) on Banawe Avenue in Quezon City, the back of St. Theresa’s College, which they run. Those on their way to the adjacent National Orthopedic Hospital would not miss it. I did ask Sr. Eleanor Llanes, ICM, a visual artist and sacred art expert, for her thoughts on how the design was conceptualized, who were involved, and how the work process began and ended. She did give me her written reflections that I will use for an article.

The Banawe Avenue mural has Robredo’s campaign catchwords, among them, “Kulay rosas ang bukas” and “Angat buhay lahat.” The faces of principal contenders Leni and Kiko are not there for a reason, but the predominantly pink mural is a tell-all. I did take photos of the long stretch as completed, and Sr. Eleanor gave me photos showing the artists and volunteers on their feet and knees while the work was in progress. Of course, the ICM sisters had to come out en masse for a group photo.

From Christmas parols to murals, from Leni-Kiko tarps waved in the ocean depths to the base camp of Mt. Everest, what, where next?



Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/152500/mural-revolution#ixzz7sDQA7sqR
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Friday, April 22, 2022

 COLUMNISTS

HUMAN FACE

Sen. Kiko’s watershed moment

After the mammoth Pampanga campaign rally (reported crowd estimate: 220,000) on April 9 of presidential and vice presidential contenders Vice President Leni Robredo and Sen. Kiko Pangilinan respectively, friends could not stop talking about that moment onstage that brought tears to many eyes. That was when a group of farmers came onstage to raise the arms of Senator Kiko, something not heretofore seen in campaign rallies where the common folk stay at ground level.

But Kiko would not have the moment to himself alone. He walked to the seated VP Leni to bid her come to center stage and relish the support of the tillers of the soil, the men with the hoe, so to speak, to borrow the title of Edwin Markham’s poem inspired by Jean-Francois Millet’s world-famous protest painting. The cadence of the first lines was playing in my mind. It was a watershed moment. And so was the Pampanga rally.

ADVERTISEMENT

A watershed moment is an event that marks a significant development, a change of course, a turning point. The word watershed, as we know it, refers to water from the mountains and hills that drain into an area to form a water source. If managed well, watersheds can feed irrigation systems for farms. But if destroyed, they could also cause flooding and landslides. We are not strangers to the latter.

Moments before the black-clad farmers with bright pink protective sleeves emerged on stage, Kiko, in his campaign spiel, mentioned a Tatay Neg, a Pampanga farmer whom the senator acknowledged as having taught him lessons, not only in farming but gave him insights on what elected persons in authority should be. The senator who had visited Tatay Neg’s farming community to help in their livelihood endeavors became the learner. So what a big surprise it was for Kiko when his wife, the megastar Sharon Cuneta, called the farmers to come onstage and do the honors.

Kiko was in tears while he and 87-year-old Tatay Neg (Virgilio Alfaro) embraced. It was a surprise. And while the two men were in each other arms, with Kiko’s towering six feet dwarfing the sun-darkened man of the soil (hence the nickname Neg?), it seemed like the world stood still. It was a watershed moment for the vice presidential hopeful who showed where his heart belonged. Suddenly, his campaign cry, “Hello, pagkain! (food) Goodbye, gutom! (hunger)” became swak na swak, to use street corner lingo. For how is it that our food producers, our food providers are the ones who suffer hunger? was Kiko’s oft-repeated question that begs an answer and action.

It could be said emphatically that VP Leni herself is not a stranger to farmers’ lives. She had supported and marched with the Sumilao farmers who had fought for and won the land that was meant for them. VP Leni was not in the political radar at that time, she was a pro bono lawyer, wife to charismatic mayor Jesse Robredo who later perished in a plane crash while serving as secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government during President Benigno Aquino III’s watch. The widow slowly took her place in the political arena and popularized the word laylayan (hemline) to refer to the poor and neglected who dwell in the margins of society but who deserve better.

Not so incidentally, while the three basement dwellers in the presidential race were holding a press conference on Easter Sunday in the posh Peninsula Hotel in Makati to excoriate VP Leni in the wild hope that she would step aside because in surveys she ranks second (oh, but inching up), she was having lunch with the Sumilao farmers on rugged terrain. That she ranks second in surveys, one of them said, means she is not liked. Oh, so what about you, third, fourth, fifth placers?

I posted the next day’s Inquirer story on Facebook with my comment (in figurative language): “They only exposed themselves, these exhibitionists. Pathetic.” In Abnormal Psychology (for which I got a good grade), men who exhibit their manhood in public in order to get attention are called exhibitionists, while the disorder is called exhibitionism. The common reaction to the display is to run away or shriek in disgust. For an exhibitionist, such reaction triggers sexual arousal. No, we were taught, just ignore, or better still, to kindly tell the exhibitionist, “Keep it to yourself” or “Withdraw” or some other remark of disinterest. That would make the exhibitionist slink away.

More watershed moments ahead.



Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/152298/sen-kikos-watershed-moment#ixzz7sDQjW6PD
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Friday, April 8, 2022

 COLUMNISTS

HUMAN FACE

Woman of the storm-battered shores

She crossed the waters on fishing boats, back-rode on motorcycles, took tricycles, and traveled in public buses. She was seen wading in flooded waters, sometimes barefoot or wearing flip-flops with little to protect her from the inclement weather and festering vermin in the muck. Because she had to get there and get there fast.

ADVERTISEMENT

I say this again: Long before the race for the presidency was off and running, long before Vice President Leni Robredo (VPL) was being persuaded into joining the race, long before there were loud raps on her door that she had to hearken and heed, she had already gone down to the trenches, she had crossed distances to listen to cries in remote places and storm-battered shores. To bring relief, hope, and compassion to the forgotten, famished, and forlorn. The presidency was not in her horizon.

None of the present crops of so-called presidentiables have walked and waded in those miles like she did. Sure, she is Vice President, but one who has been demeaned, belittled, the rug pulled under her feet, the chair pulled away even before she could warm it, no thanks to the one seated in the highest seat who made sure she had no place at the table. VPL had to find a way to deliver, and she did.

It is during this campaign period that we now see where her strength and support are coming from—from volunteers, many of them just in the cusp of adulthood, who see in her a doorway to their dreams for themselves and their country. And what a leader should be—capable, intelligent, compassionate, stateswomanlike, strong, and without a tinge of corruption.

Energized by the teeming pink crowds that shout “Leni-Kiko!” a colleague of mine rose from her pandemic-induced ennui and strode right into the Leni-Kiko campaign in Central Luzon and discovered the writer’s fire she still had in her. Read her breathless reportage that will take you to the heart of the Leni-Kiko campaign (“Tears and Fears and Leni-Kiko’s ‘Abonados’” by Rochit TaƱedo in Positively Filipino, a trailblazing online magazine).

One takeaway from the crowds is the oft-repeated refrain, “Babawi kami” (“We will make it up to her”). Oh, now they remember how VPL, this woman, had come when no one else did, or if at all, came late, while she and her ragtag team reached even places where she badly lost when she ran for vice president in 2016. It tugs at the heart, this “Babawi kami,” this people’s promise to make it up to her with their votes on May 9.

For me, one of the best video clips of VPL that has surfaced is the one that shows her in a fishing boat, the wind in her face and hair, speaking with the leader of a fishermen’s group, while the boat sliced the waters. So different, I thought, from the posters of yore that showed candidates wading in rice fields. These Amorsoloesque scenarios are now better left to the master himself.

With the rice tariffication law still the heavy cross of rice farmers, candidates better do acts that are more impressive and life-threatening, like jet-skiing in the disputed West Philippine Sea to taunt Chinese President Xi Jinping, for whom the present Philippine president owes his obeisance.

That big, bully neighbor now supplies cheap, smuggled vegetables, driving Filipino vegetable farmers to penury because they cannot compete. And while at it, one cannot help the issue about onions, too, the pink variety specifically, whom detractors of VPL say compose the huge turnout in her campaign rallies, some even breaching the 100,000 mark, as photographed by drones. Photoshopped and nothing but onions, detractors say. The real onions are rotting in the fields while farmers weep. Calling on Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, VPL’s running mate, for whom food production is a top agenda.

More artists are turning the towns and cities pink with their Leni-Kiko murals. People paint on walls, empty spaces, private properties, and even very tall buildings. The volunteers are mostly young artists mentored by older ones. The latest ones are those designed and supervised by Inquirer cartoonist Jess Abrera in Antipolo and the wall of the ICM Sisters on Banawe Avenue in Quezon City with artist Sister Eleanor Llanes supervising. The murals could soon draw selfie-happy tourists.

ADVERTISEMENT

The woman of the storm-battered shores is now an icon, a subject of popular art.



Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/151917/woman-of-the-storm-battered-shores#ixzz7sDRbnvh5
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook