Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hope in a Hopeless Time

The theme for University of the Philippines’ Lantern Parade this year - Kapaskuhan, Kalikasan, Kinabukasan - speaks of hope, of renewal and rebirth, of dreams for better days ahead.

But how do we find hope in the face of the unimaginably horrific events depicted in the mural above, commissioned by the UP College of Law, and rendered from an interaction between its students and a roster of distinguished contemporary artists?

It is the image of the crazed warlord that looms large, armalite and chainsaw in hand, trampling over massacred bodies. It is the disturbing center that completely overwhelms the pristine landscape in the background. So visceral is the sense of violence and impunity that the immediate reaction is to recoil in horror.

The birds and the trees - traditional symbols of hope and rebirth - are afterthoughts. They are there, but we almost do not see them.

This is where we are now. It is horror and despair that dominates. Where is the hope?

It may do well - not coincidentally in this Christmas Season - to remember that hope is everpresent, even in hopeless times. The birds may have scampered away, but they will be back.

And, ironically, it is the very brazenness and graphic nature of the violence that has been inflicted which carries with it the seeds of renewal and justice. The process has already started - media coverage and public outrage have forced the stained hand of government.

But these are not enough.

As a people, we must find the courage and persistence to do what must be done. There is no moving forward without understanding the roots in the past and the ongoing effects in the present. There must be a true accounting because without it, the books cannot be closed and we cannot move confidently forward into the future.

Justice and the genuine rule of law are the tools that can make this future possible.

This is our reality, our opportunity, and our challenge.

This is our hope.

*** The mural above, as yet untitled, is an 8'x12' oil on canvas painting, especially produced for the 2009 Lantern Parade of the University of the Philippines. To appreciate the scale, please see the painting in progress below.

It would not have been possible without the support of the UP College of Law, the Law Student Government, the Center for Art, New Ventures and Sustainable Development (CANVAS), and most importantly of course, the participating artists: Manny Garibay, Buen Calubayan, Max Santiago, Ed Manalo, Alee Garibay, Medeo Cruz, Racquel de Loyola, Iko Umadhay, Sarah Geneblazo, Kim Mark Oliveros, Nadia Ginete, Alex Baluyot, Leo Magallon, Jay Gregorio, Pia Constantino and JL Burgos.


Mariella said...

Ang ganda ng mural at ang ganda ng sinulat mo tungkol dito. Rili.

Passion Overdrive said...

Lest we, as a people, forget as we always do. I am featuring this blog over at the Puta Facebook wall (

Thank you for the provoking art and blog.