My second post about the art exhibit at the Sining Kamalig gallery from February 8 to March 3: EDSA. Ano Ngayon?

Last January 10, after the meeting of the organizing group for the exhibit, Sandra Torrijos who is also one of the participating artists said, “I will paint a new piece for the exhibit. I think it will be about Mary, since she had a prominent place in EDSA, and I relate to her as a woman.”

I thought it is a good idea, and told her so. There were many statues of Mary in EDSA, big and small. My recollection is that they were mainly statues of the Lady of Fatima. When General Ramos addressed the crowd, I remember him holding a statue of Mary, but I am not sure about my memory. Perhaps someone else was holding the statue near him.

Since Ramos is Protestant, I thought to myself: “Was his gesture an act of ecumenism? Or was it a calculated political act that acknowledged the power of religious imagery?”

Another prominent religious image was that of the Santo Nino. I think the Sto. Nino images outnumbered those of Mary. More people in EDSA identified with the Sto. Nino and Mary. The subliminal message was Mary protecting her baby child, symbol of the people who needed protection.

Reflecting on this, I wished that someone had also decided to bring the Black Nazarene from Quiapo, or at least a replica, as they do nowadays before january 9.

As someone identified with the Philippine version of the theology of liberation, which we prefer to call “theology of struggle,” I prefer the image of the Black Nazarene. It is the image of a mature Christ, carrying the cross, his knees slightly buckling under its weight. I joked that one could imagine the cross being aimed like a bazooka at the tanks, warning them, “Don’t harm my people, or else…”

Other powerful images at EDSA were those of the tanks being pushed back with bare hands, and flowers being offered to soldiers. There is the often printed photo of a group of nuns praying the rosary in front of the crowd confronting the armored personnel carriers.

During our brainstorm about art forms for the exhibit, someone who was part of the NPAA ’71 (Nagkakaisang Progresibong Artista at Arkitekto) said we should include some barbed wire. I felt that was too predictable, almost a cliche. Of course one of the images at EDSA, after the siege of Malacanang, was of barbed wire wound into a circle, with a yellow ribbon tied to it.

I shared with them one of the images we used to paint in prison, of barbed wire wrapped around a burning candle. Only later did we find out that it is similar to the symbol of Amnesty International. The quotation we used for the image was adapted from Victor Frankl: “Those who would give light, must endure burning.”

I wondered aloud, if someone could bend and twist barbed wire to form a large ball-shape, with a hollowed space on top to serve as candle holder. We played around with the idea for a while. Someone added that we should make a number of smaller versions that we could place on the floor, and light the candles as part of the opening rituals.

Today, Simoun sent a text that he has found someone who will execute the idea. “He is the son of an activist. His father says you were the officiating priest at this marriage, but you knew him then under another name.” I wonder who he is, and look forward to meeting him at the opening of the exhibit.


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