These are narrative drawings with coded references to political and social conditions I experienced, together with other Filipinos, in the year 2020.
You may think of them as snippets of modern allegory inspired by events that happened during this time of quarantine. Collectively, this is also a visual journal or diary to record random observations and perceptions for posterity.
The crisis brought with it unwanted anxieties because we had no way of knowing how long it would last or when it might end.
Fortunately, I had my art.
During the first few weeks of the pandemic, being able to go out to buy my basic needs - something I took for granted in the past - provided a sense of comfort and grounding for the days to come.
The pandemic changed how we buy our food. People here in Malolos started backyard farming. Vegetable sellers sell door-to-door.
The pandemic experience is our ongoing odyssey. It is a long struggle to get back not to what we knew as normal, but to a new sense of normalcy.
It is sad to think that our government thinks that our deceased countrymen are mere numbers.
Government leaders shamelessly used the pandemic as an excuse to increase their powers, instead of helping their people.
We will remember the pandemic is a period of uncertain waiting. Balikbayans don’t know when they will be able to return to loved ones. Children are stuck at home, unable to play outside, be with friends, or even go to school.
The future of this country will be shaped by how we respond to the grievances of the masses. Activists, particularly the youth, give them voice, and represent them when they cannot be heard.
This is how I imagine intellectual discussion and debate might happen over the internet, if there are no trolls.
A few months ago, the Chinese Embassy produced a song entitled “Iisang Dagat”, which they said was a tribute to Chinese and Filipino frontliners fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines. Hardly anyone was fooled. Most of us saw it for what it was - propaganda to undermine the Philippines’ rightful claim to the West Philippine Sea.
This was our last plate in school before the suspension of class. I combined my drawing techniques to the iconography of René Magritte using magazine cutouts as reference. I was also inspired by Victorio Edades' “Builders” when he was discussed in one of my classes.
I used graphite pencil on paper to express these ideas. It helped me to address the limited supply and difficulty of obtaining other art materials. Mostly, I stayed indoors, and adjusted to the smaller studio space at home.
I use a collage approach to my drawings, pasting together different images and using those as references. Personal and stock photos helped to depict the images with the highest possible detail.
Some drawings are drawn using chiaroscuro to show stark contrast of light and dark. Others are very linear, similar to a page in a coloring book. They sometimes feel more apt because we all could use some color to enliven these gray and gloomy days.