By Caysel Amita E. Ercilla, student, Polytechnic University of the Philippines
History has an array of telling the story of mother nature, unsung heroines, and how these things are deeply interwoven. Perhaps mother nature and our heroines are never too apart or different, both are homes to newborns and new battles. With the collaboration of the aforementioned bodies combined with an astonishing artist, Alas ng Bayan was made possible. An exhibit shedding light on Filipina heroines and the legacy they engraved on the soils of this very country, stories which are often forgotten by the citizens now. The three organizations, Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC), Constantino Foundation and 350.org, created this well-meaning project and shared the awareness of history’s capability to tell array of stories which cut through different aspects both for climate change and women empowerment. The exhibit opened last February 24 at the Bulwagang Bonifacio of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines and will run until March 6.
Portraits of Gregoria “Oriang” De Jesus, Apolonia Catra, Remedios Gomez-Paraiso known as Kumander Liwayway, Ma. Lorena Barros and Gloria Capitan, few of the many figures with courageous tales, were painted in a unique concept of framing these women in a tarot cards. A commendation for the artist, Johnny Guarin, who provided a new aesthetic which are appealing to the taste of younger generation. He colored these pieces in tones with seemingly reference to pop art. Each piece tickles the mind by incorporating symbolisms and essential codes, narrating each persona’s remarkable traits and sentiments without compelling one into heavy descriptions. Copies of the paintings are also printed in tote bags, mini cards and stickers.
Gravestones are a reminder of different lives that encourage us to look on the history and might create a spark change within us. However, the history we are previously looking back now is right at our faces, in the now, for history is now, referencing from what Mr. Constantino said in his speech. Thus, reliving the lives of these exceptional ladies, as Alas ng Bayan have executed, resembles more than just looking at sorrowful gravestones, it is in truth more colorful than that. The existence of this exhibit is like picking up a good story from a loving grandmother who is telling her descendants to sketch a similar legacy or best; a kick-butt narrative of a leading lady. It’s like looking at a mirror and finding reflection of inspiration, courage and dedication not just for the country but every nation that mother earth nurtures and cradles. Like an immortalize photograph which carries a thousand words unsaid, the women as ‘alas’ communicate for the new generation.
Caysel Amita E. Ercilla is a first year student in Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) taking Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. She goes by the name ‘Oh, Cay’ in her YouTube Channel where her original compositions and tributes to her loved musicians are compiled. She also participated in open mics and gigs, and this year she’s a weekly contender at the Wish 107.5’s songwriting competition with her original song titled, “Loveless.”
Caysel believes in the power of the arts woven with the intricacies of literature. Her humble pieces emanated from personal narratives and influences from diverse inspirations of arts, be it visual or mobile, and the stories she observes in the society. She thinks that journalism and song writing are not far apart, both are integral tools of telling stories about humanity.