Originally published in Class A Magazine

 

QUEZON CITY, PHILIPPINES – The pioneering art exhibit Alas ng Bayan opened its two-week run at the University of the Philippines Diliman’s College of Fine Arts, marking National Arts Month.

“Alas ng Bayan couldn’t be more timely in these trying times. We look for heroes, we look for hope, we look for a future. To look back may help us move forward,” UP CFA Dean Mitzi Marie Aguilar-Reyes said as she opened the exhibit. It will be hosted by the college’s Corredor Gallery until February 19.

The ‘herstory’ exhibit, jointly organized by the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC), the Constantino Foundation, and 350 Pilipinas, features the paintings of five Filipina heroines who resisted national oppression, social injustice, and false gender narratives across different junctures of Philippine history: Gregoria de Jesus (Lakambini ng Katipunan), Apolonia Catra (lone recorded Filipina soldier with Macario Sakay’s forces), Remedios Gomez-Paraiso (Hukbalahap’s Kumander Liwayway), Martial Law activist Lorena Barros, and slain Bataan coal activist Gloria Capitan.

“Paano natin magagamit ang ating talento sa pag-aambag sa kasaysayan at sa paghahayag ng katotohanan sa ating lipunan? (How can we use our talents to contribute to history and safeguard the truth for our society?),” John Erhard Guarin, artist and 350 Pilipinas volunteer, asked the Fine Arts students attending the launch.

“Alas ng Bayan is about memory, women, and history, calling to action young people as our nation grapples with some of the most serious challenges in our era such as climate change,” said Celine Tabinga, ICSC special projects coordinator.

“Done in the style of tarot cards, the Alas paintings return to center stage largely under-recognized women whose contributions to Philippine nationhood are colossal. The works are meant to provoke debate over current understanding of heroism and citizenship, and they challenge myths in Philippine history as well as prevailing notions of toxic masculinity and cross-eyed, myopic nationalism,” said Red Constantino, managing director of the Constantino Foundation.

For March, Women’s Month, Alas ng Bayan will be displayed in the Polytechnic University of the Philippines – Manila Campus from February 24 to March 6 and in UP Manila’s Museum of A History of Ideas from March 10 to 21.

It was first hosted last November by the Linangan Gallery of the Constantino Foundation then the UP Asian Center, and more recently by the De La Salle University’s History Department and The Libraries last January 27 to 31.