Reverberate Jomar and Marlon’s call: DUTERTE, IBAGSAK!
Read in: Pilipino
Imagine a world shrouded in darkness, where all space is controlled and all color blacked out. Everything is sleek but dull and uniform. Creative expression is limited. Paint, ink and paper are monopolized by the elite and the State that represents them. Whoever uses it for the purpose not intended is vilified. Whoever allows a shadow of light to enter or a tinge of color to emerge is just walled into that darkness.
This is the world that Filipinos live in at the moment. And it is the system in this kind of world that killed Jomar Palero at Marlon Naperi, activists from Guinobatan, Albay.
There is no space for the people’s culture and art in a semicolonial and semifeudal society. Jomar and Marlon are not the first of their kind. May it be graffiti, a novel, a poem, a painting or mural – artists who use their talent to truly illustrate the people’s struggle for justice, freedom and democracy are bullied, hounded and persecuted by the fascist state. Artists who went with the countercurrent of their generation were branded heretics, witches, guerillas, terrorists, enemies, liars and many more. Their tongues were cut out. Some were burned at the stake. Some were exiled. Some faced firing squads. Although in another form, up until now, they are killed and persecuted.
In Bicol, there have been about five media killed since 2016. Even more have their lives threatened with the continuous presence and surveillance of the military and police. Artist and cultural groups that project progressive works of art have been red-tagged, its members harassed and threatened.
But it is also this kind of society that invigorates more Jomars and Marlons. For every unfinished work of art, another artist rises to finish it. For every cry, a hundred thousand rise up to the challenge and seek out justice. At the most intense periods of history, the people draw inspiration from their outrage to create great works of art. Art, therefore, fluorishes as a medium to illustrate the story of the people. It becomes an effective tool in reflecting the true state of the nation. Art is there to unite us all. Truly, no amount of silence and persecution can stop the people.
The greatest artists of all time are remembered, not just by the proportionality and creativity of their work or how beautifully they crafted words together, but most importantly by how their masterpiece reflected the people’s culture and struggle. Jomar and Marlon remind us that the most symbolic and poetic works of art are thost that come from the hearts of the masses.
It is the task of every artista ng bayan to fight the darkness and fill every corner of society with the most beautiful and most colorful works of art that reflect the legitimate demands of the oppressed and exploited masses. Let every stroke arouse the people’s sentiments. Let every image bellow as loud as the people’s cries for justice until they come to life from the countryside to the cities. Gradually, darkness will fall. Together, artists, alongside farmers, workers, youth and other oppressed sectors can create a society that will not deprive them of paint, ink and paper. Together, they can create a society truly free. And, likewise, create art that is truly for and created by the masses.
The world is our canvas and, right now, we are all artists. Pick up every canister, paint brush, pen and rifle that every artist, activist and Red fighter left behind. Continue Jomar and Marlon’s graffiti. Even go beyond Duterte, Ibagsak! and answer to the higher call to take up arms. And when you do, hold on to that rifle. Defend yourself, defend the people. Only then can we relentlessly advance and triumph in the fight for justice, freedom and democracy.