Friday, June 27, 2008

The People’s Artists

As a person who has minuscule artistic skills, I have much admiration and respect for artists. Most especially, for those who are usually called as the people’s artists.

They are the artists-activists of various disciplines who use their creativity to advance a social concern. They are those who hone their skills to deliver radical messages, challenge existing cultural norms, promote liberating ideas, and mobilize the people in a movement for change.

As what anyone among them will say, it’s not an easy thing to do.

Arts in the Philippines do not get that much support, thus the concept of the starving, struggling artists. But I guess the concept comes so alive among the artists-activists who willingly give their time and skills with no concern for financial gains just so the people’s struggle will advance.

In the conference we organized, I met a few of these kind of artists from different parts of the world.

There was the tandem of Marie Boti and Malcolm Guy from Multi-Monde Productions in Canada who have made a host of films tackling migration. Their documentaries such as Modern Heroes, Modern Slaves and When Strangers Reunite are such powerful tools of education and information that whenever we show them to OFWs here, they just can’t help it but be indignant over their plight.

They also organized two nights of film showing where I got to meet another filmmaker who documented a fact finding mission on the displacement of people due to militarization in Chattisgarh in India. Searching through his work on the net, I found this

Then there were also the cultural activists from the Philippines. They came from different groups that create songs of struggles, mount social-realist plays and other activist productions. They were such a creative bunch and I also enjoyed the nights when we just gathered in a group and sang the songs that we grew up with in the movement.

Having two left feet, a voice that can only find melody in a group, and hands that did not go beyond drawing Pokwang na nagka-kandirit, I respect and admire artists.

As an activist who have come to learn the importance of such work in the movement for change, I salute the artists who get their inspiration from the people and return it to the people through their arts. Truly, they are people’s artists.

* * * * *

I wrote this after hearing how seriously-ill a cultural activist I know of is right now. I’ve seen him perform while I was still a starving and struggling student activist but I didn’t get to talk to him in person until he came here in 2005 to be a part of the anti-WTO protests.

His group has made an appeal for financial support on his behalf.

He is an artist. He is gay. He is a comrade.

I sincerely hope he pulls through. For an artist like him is one of a kind.


gibo said...

i've seen modern heroes in a packed room in montreal ages ago. it was a very powerful documentary. wagi talaga ang mga produkto ng artista ng bayan.

pero sabi nga, if we want them to produce more films, etc, we have to support them.

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