Concept Paper for Alliance of Artists
July 9, 2005 Draft
“The filmmaker, like his fellow artists in different media, has now realized that the artist is also a public person. He does not work in isolation from society. Instead of working alone in his ivory tower he is a citizen of the slums, of the streets, of the battlefield if need be. The artist is always a participant. He tries to be true not only to his craft but also to himself. For is is the supreme duty of the artist to investigate the truth, no matter what forces attempt to hide it. And then to report it to the people, to confront them with it, like a whiplash that will cause wounds but will free the mind from the various fantasies and escapist fare that the Establishment pollutes our minds with.
To the best of our abilities, and even if we oftentimes fail, we want to do works that will hurt, films that will disturb, films that will not make you rest. For the times are really bad, and given times like these, it is a crime to rest. We can not rest, and we should not, while there’s a fellow Filipino starving in Negros, an Aquino or Galman crying for justice, a salvage victim lying in a mountain of garbage while a corrupt family rules the country with uncontrolled power and wealth. While it is the duty of the artist to work for what is true, good, and beautiful, first we have to expose and fight for what is wrong.
In these times when most of the media hide the truth from us, when most of what we get from the media are silly gossip and petty flesh and sensationalized crimes, we go to the streets to find out what’s happening. We listen to those artists who dare risk their lives and livelihoods, who reiterate once more the utmost duty of the artist — that the artist is a committed person, that he will always take the side of any human being who is violated, abused, oppressed, dehumanized whatever his instrument —the pen, the brush, or the camera. “
Artist as Citizen
Critical periods in Philippine history are replete with artists who fulfilled their roles as citizens who challenged and fought an exploitative ruling order. These artists took the side of the violated, abused, oppressed and dehumanized and created works that exposed repressed realities and shattered bourgeois illusions. These artists effectively articulated and projected the vision of the people’s struggle in the theatre of social change. They are remembered as artists who coauthored and codirected mass movements, whether these be the scenes in political upheavals, refrains of people power uprisings or the powerful crescendos of revolutions.
The artists of this alliance will continue this legacy of commitment by engaging our cameras, our pens, our brushes, our guitars, our songs—our weapons and bullets in the raging discourse and brewing movement for the imminent removal of President Macapagal-Arroyo from office.
The alliance aims to facilitate the crystallization of a clear, informed and common stand and commitment to action among artists in the light of the current political situation in the country. The alliance will create venues for the study and discussion of the fundamental problems in society and support a sound answer to the present political crisis.
The alliance will be composed of artists and their supporters—-individuals, organizations and institutions involved in a broad range of traditional and new art media. It will be fuelled primarily by artists from the grassroots, alternative and independent sectors. It will be open to student and youth cultural and arts organizations as well as art critics, educators, administrators and enthusiasts.
The artists will partcipate in street rallies, noise barrages and political vigils and transform non-traditional art venues like protest camps, picketlines, detention centers, urban poor and peasant communities into open places for music, theatre and dance performances, video installations, shadow plays, poetry readings, exhibits and film showings. Visual artists are enjoined to create sculptural effigies, puppets, grafitti, murals and other street art forms.
The artists believe that interacting with the most marginalized and disenfranchised of Filipinos will fulfill our responsibility of making our art accessible to a broader spectrum of society and in turn transform our consciousness and enrich our art. We believe that this will be an opportunity to open art to the scrutiny and appreciation of the people and expose us to the art and culture of the sector of peasants, workers, indigenous peoples and urban poor. This will be a challenge for us produce meaningful artworks forged by our unity with the struggle of the masses and deliver performances and productions evolved by precarious conditions and fluid scenarios. This will be humble contribution to the aspiration of ultimately liberating our people from cycle of injustice and suffering.
Basis of Unity
We recognize that the calls for the President’s ouster has long been driven by a popular movement against her militarist stance and skewed economic policies that has been detrimental to the welfare of the majority of Filipinos. This includes the President’s inaction and culpability in the politically motivated human rights violations which resulted in the killings of members and leaders of progressive people’s organizations and journalists throughout the nation; unequivocal support for the unjust US imperialist war policies; condonement of the haphazard branding as “Enemies of the State” a broad spectrum of groups including the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Philippine Educational Theatre Association (PETA), Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) and progressive-party list groups such as Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Anakpawis, Migrante, Anakbayan and other people’s organizations; implementation of the onerous fiscal reform agenda that included the expanded Value Added Tax law and approval of the Mining Act of 1995.
We support the escalating call for the resignation of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo whose illegitimacy to rule which has been bolstered by the revelation of recorded conversations that presented evidence of her direct involvement in massive and systematic fraud during the May 2004 National Elections. We regard as insincere, superficial and deficient the belated admission and apology of Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to the Filipino people. Far from being a confession done in good faith, it was a calculated political move intended to cushion and circumvent the political consequences of her involvement in massive electoral fraud by appealing the “forgiving nature” of Filipinos. The President’s statement glossed over issues of bribery, graft and corruption, violation of the constitution that involved not only herself, but the First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, along with certain members and officials of the military, police, government and commission on elections. It was a contrived, self-serving, and convoluted script designed to further confuse the people and absolve the President from the grave affront that she committed against the Filipino people and the very foundation of the democratic system and justify her vontinued rule. It was not a mere “lapse in judgement” but a serious legal and political offense that should be investigated and tried by the people.
We will join the ranks of many other Filipinos who have been demanding the president to resign. We will be vigilant against all explicit and implicit attempts of the government to censure the Filipinos freedom of expression. We will take action and battle infringements on the right of the public to develop and raise their awareness regarding matters of national concern. We will defend the liberties that the people have struggled to regain during EDSA People Power 1 in 1986. The cases of graft and corruption, culpable violation of the constitution, betrayal of public trust and bribery allegedly committed by the President are not private issues but impeachable offenses that should by all means be transparent and given the full benefit of public scrutiny and criticism. We will exhaust all the possible constitutional means to seek truth and justice but will not hesitate to support and resort to the extraconstitutional process of an ouster when compelled to do so.