Katipunan Kontra Korupsyon – Photos by Terzeus Dominguez

The Priority Development Assistance Fund is a discretionary fund provided to members of the Philippine Congress to fund local projects that fall outside of national-level development programmes. The “pork barrel” came under heavy public criticism and government investigation in 2013 when it was discovered that multiple lawmakers had misappropriated funds allocated to them in an elaborate scam centred on businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.

Students from Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), University of the Philippines and Miriam College organized a rally along Katipunan Road on September 11, 2013 to protest against the scandal. Terzeus Dominguez, an ADMU student was present during the rally and shared with Subjectivities photos from the event.

Participating students and faculty gathering inside the Ateneo de Manila University before joining the larger group right outside campus gates.
Participating students and faculty gathering inside the Ateneo de Manila University before joining the larger group right outside campus gates.
Student body representatives known as the Sanggunian ng mga Paaralang Loyola ng Ateneo de Manila (Student Body Council of Loyola Schools Students of the Ateneo de Manila University) lead rally participants to the gathering point a few meters outside campus gates.
Student body representatives known as the Sanggunian ng mga Paaralang Loyola ng Ateneo de Manila (Student Body Council of Loyola Schools Students of the Ateneo de Manila University) lead rally participants to the gathering point a few meters outside campus gates.
In a rare collaboration among three universities in the area, students from Miriam College, Ateneo de Manila University, and University of the Philippines-Diliman have gathered together in Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City, Philippines (https://maps.google.com/maps?q=14.642048,121.074721) in peaceful protest against the infamous Pork Barrel Scandal.
In a rare collaboration among three universities in the area, students from Miriam College, Ateneo de Manila University, and University of the Philippines-Diliman have gathered together in Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City, Philippines in peaceful protest against the infamous Pork Barrel Scandal.
“Scrap Pork”, referring to a call to the national government for abolishment of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or more well known as “Pork Barrel”, a fund allocated to senators and congressmen used for funding projects according to their discretion for their constituents.
“Makibaka, huwag magbaboy!”
One of the slogans shouted during the protest, roughly translated to “Cooperate [with the people], don’t be corrupt”. This is in reference to an old slogan during the height of the EDSA People Power Revolution in 1986.
A student, wearing the head of a boar, signing passing motorists to honk their horns as a sign of support for the cause.
A student, wearing the head of a boar, signing passing motorists to honk their horns as a sign of support for the cause.

Terzeus Dominguez is a student at the Ateneo de Manila University and is currently taking AB Chinese Studies-Social Sciences Track under the School of Social Sciences. He is also an ad-hoc photographer and multimedia documentations handler for events of the Chinese Studies Program in the same university. Interested parties may contact him at tsdmgz@gmail.com.

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Paintings by Federico “boyD” Dominguez

Subjectivities regularly showcases the creative works of talented artists from across Southeast Asia. In this post, we feature a series of paintings by Federico “boyD” Dominguez, who hails from Mindanao in the Philippines. These paintings were inspired by boyD’s trip to Northern Thailand where he visited the Da-raang people of Palaung Village and Karen people of Dokdaeng Village, Chiang Mai, Thailand. The paintings are accompanied by the boyD’s statements on his works.

Maz Cu Dof Auf Hkuv Pooz lores
“Maz Cu Dof Auf Hkauw Pooz” depicting the Da-raang people on the left and Karen people on the right

“Maz Cu Dof Auf Hkauw Pooz” (Take Only What You Need)

Chiang Mai, Thailand
2013
Gouache on watercolor paper
34 X 70 inches

The painting is a composite and representational narrative painting about the two hill tribes, the Karen People and the Da-raang People living in Chiang Mai, the Northern part of Thailand. Both practise slash and burn agriculture and animistic rituals that reflect their relations with the spirit world and nature. They live near the forests or on the foothills.

The majority of the Karen People are Buddhists but they still practise several traditional rituals in farm- ing like the lujhti bo (translation: water ritual) which is depicted on the foreground of the painting (from the center to the right). Led by the hifhkof, a Karen spiritual leader, the ritual is performed during planting season near the source of water which flows into the agricultural lands and crops. It is done to appease the water spirit to make water flow properly into the cultivated lands.

When a child is born, the Karen people also perform the dei pautoof (translation: umbilical cord forest). The umbilical cord of a new-born child is either placed inside a bamboo tube and then tied to a tree trunk or buried amidst the shades of the tree near its trunk. The Karen people believe that once the umbilical cord is attached to the tree, the child will grow up having strong attachment to the people and the village. In addition, the forests where the umbilical cords are placed become sacred places. This birthing ceremony shows the infusion of both traditional practic- es and Buddhist ordination ritual.

In Dokdaeng Village, the creation of sacred places through rituals has been adapted by Karen indigenous people’s organizations, Buddhist monks, Christian priests and ad- vocates from the academe in their campaigns for environmental pro- tection, particularly of the forests. They call the ritual buad pa (trans- lation: sacred space or sacred plac- es) which incorporates elements of Buddhist ordination ritual, Chris- tian practices and animistic practic- es of the Karen people. The buad pa is performed in places where there are no umbilical cords on the trees. This practice is shown from the center to the left images foreground of the painting.

The image of a frog represents the water spirit and is considered as among the most sacred animals. One of the most important musi- cal/ritual instruments of the Kar- en people is the “Klo Oh Tra Oh” Frog Drum (English translation) which is a symbol of self-identi- ty. It is used to call all the spirits, especially the great spirit and also for driving away “Nat” bad spirits. There are four miniaturized images of a frog on the edge face of the bronze drum. On the face of the drum reflects the world view and images of the universe. Usually the Karen leaders or priests have the frog drums. The duck is also one of the most sacred animals because the Karen people believe that it will bring them to the afterlife.

The Palaung People or Da-raang people originally came from Bur- ma and arrived in Thailand in the 1980s. They were driven out of their ancestral homes in Burma due to the conversion of their traditional hunting grounds and agricultural lands into forest reserves and huge plantations by the Burmese govern- ment. As new settlers in Thailand, the government of Thailand has not recognized them as citizens. Be- cause of this situation, the Da-raang people are prone to human rights violations and do not have access to basic social services such as education, medical care, etc. Being stateless, the Da-raang people do not have enough lands to cultivate. To survive, the Da-raang people make handicrafts, work in the big plantations owned by the Thai or foreigners, or are hired as construc- tion workers. Some also perform their dances for the tourists.

On the extreme left and right side of my painting is my interpretation of their origin myth. As told, once upon a time there were seven pretty angels that came down to earth for a visit. One day, they decided
to take a bath in a beautiful serene lake. As they were enjoying the water, they did not notice that a hunter was nearby. Before they took notice of his presence, the hunter already captured one of the pretty angels. The other angels were able to escape and fly back to heaven where they came from. The hunter brought his captive to his prince as a gift, in return for an award. The Prince immediately fell in love with the angel and gave her much attention and wealth. For a long period of time, despite having many children, the angel continued to be very sad of what happened to her.

Time passed by and one night, the Queen Mother sympathized with the angel and gave back all her belongings, including her precious pair of wings. The angel immediate- ly flew back to heaven, her original abode, never to return. The Prince became sad, left all alone with their children and the memories of their life together. According to their creation story, the children of the Prince and angel became the de- scendants of the Da-raang People. This story is remembered through the design on their clothing. The glitters on their blouse represent the stars that symbolize their home in heaven. The belt that is made of vine symbolizes the trap that the hunter used to catch the angel. The silvery metallic belt symbolizes the things that were given to the captured angel by the prince. The beads of strings that adorn the arms of the blouse symbolize the pair of wings of the angel.

For me, what happened to the captured angel represents the con- temporary issues of the Da-raang people. Their children represent the tribe’s plight as a people from generations to generations—that is, they are still in captivity in the form of many issues and problems that they are experiencing.

“Taj hti Taj Tau”

“Taj hti Taj Tau” (The Absolute Being or the Great Spirit)

Chiang Mai, Thailand
2013
Soft pastel on watercolour paper
15 X 20 inches

This work is my visual interpretation of Karen peoples’ belief that the “Ta hti Taj Tau” (the great spirit) owns the mountains, bodies of water (like the lakes, springs and creeks), and fire. The “Taj hti Taj Tau” is etched in the face of their most valuable possession, the “Klo oh tra oh” or the sacred frog drum.

“Ta Leow”

“Ta Leow” (Charm)

Chiang Mai, Thailand
2013
Tempera (washed) on watercolor paper
15 X 20 inches

My visual interpretation of the “Ta leow”, a sacred para- phernalia used in many of the rituals performed by the Da-raang peoples. Made of sliced bamboo and fash- ioned into a star like item, the “Ta leow” is also hung in strategic parts of the Da-raang houses like the up- per portion of the main door, to ward off the “Nats” or bad spirits that are believed to bring sickness, miseries and misfortune.The seven spikes of the object resembles seven eyes of the spirits.

Federico Sulapas Dominguez aka boyD was born in the municipality of Maluko, Province of Bukidnon in Mindanao. He descended from the Tagalogs of Bulacan province in Luzon from his father’s side, to the Mandaya of Davao Oriental from his grandmother’s side, and natives of Surigao Del Norte from his mother’s side. He studied Architecture at the University of Mindanao and Fine Arts major in Visual Communication at the University of the Philippines, Diliman. He currently works as a freelance graphic designer and art director, painter, illustrator and a member of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP). He is married to Maria Teresa Cheng, an anthropologist and Community Development worker with three children, Rio Amir (Tsino), Montana Amir (Bubay) and Brisa Amir (Kimod). He currently resides in Krus na Ligas, Quezon City. He is also a recipient of the Asian Public Intellectual (API) Fellowship 2013-2014.

Sa pagkain natin ng bangus noong Setyembre 21 – Maureen Gaddi dela Cruz

Sa pagkain natin ng bangus noong Setyembre 21

Maureen Gaddi dela Cruz

Nagkataon lang siguro na Setyembre 21
noong huli tayong nagsalo
sa paborito mong inihaw na bangus.
Habang marahan kong tinutuklap ang malutong na balat
at unti-unting hinihimay ang tostadong laman,
kinamusta mo ako na parang kay tagal nating di nagkita.
Tulad ng dati, nagpalitan tayo ng kuro-kuro –
tungkol sa pagtaas ng aking matrikula,
sa kilos-protesta noong nakaraang linggo,
sa mga pangarap ko kapag ako’y nakapagtapos.
Matiyaga mong pinakinggan ang aking mga kuwento
hanggang maubos ang toyo’t kalamansing sawsawan.

Kung tutuusin, ako ang nais magtanong.
Kung noon bang hinuli ka’y di ka rin nakapalag
na parang isdang nilambat.
Kung matapos kang idarang sa pananakot
at ibabad ang pagkatao sa alipusta,
hinampas ka ba sa likod
hanggang halos matuklap ang iyong balat.
Kung papayagan mo ba akong himayin
ang tatlong dekadang gunita
at unawain ang ikinukubling dusa.

Kung maaari lamang sanang pira-pirasuhin
ang iyong katahimikan
upang matikman ang dahas na nanuot
sa bawat hibla ng iyong laman.
Hangad kong isa-isang bunutin
ang mga nakahadlang na tinik
at palayain ang naumid mong paninindigan.
Patawad kung nais kong ungkatin ang mga bangungot.

As We Were Eating Milkfish Last September 21*

(English translation by Alexander Martin Remollino, 1977-2010)

It was perhaps just a coincidence that it was September 21
when we last feasted together on your favorite,
grilled milkfish.
As I was slowly removing the crisp skin
and little by little tearing to bits
the toasted flesh,
you asked how I was
as though we hadn’t seen each other for ages.
Like before, we exchanged observations —
about the increase in my tuition,
about last week’s protest action,
about what I dream of doing after graduation.
You patiently listened to my stories
until the soy sauce-and-calamansi condiment ran out.

It is I in fact who want to ask questions.
When you were seized,
were you also unable to fight back —
like a fish caught in a net?
After you were burned with intimidation
and your person soaked in abuse,
were you whipped in the back
until your skin was almost removed?
Would you allow me to tear to bits
those three decades of memories
and understand the concealed sufferings?

If only I could tear to bits your silence
and taste the violence that forced itself
into every inch of your skin.
I would like to pull out one by one
the fishbones blocking the way
and free your silenced convictions.
Forgive me if I wish to uncover the nightmares.

(*This poem is for the poet’s father, Ely dela Cruz, who was a political detainee during the period of Martial Law in the Philippines, which was declared on September 21, 1972.)

Maureen Gaddi dela Cruz, J.D. is a writer, visual artist and humanitarian worker from Laguna, Philippines. She graduated from the University of the Philippines College of Law in 2010 and took the Philippine Bar exams in 2013. She is a member of the poetry organizations Linangan sa Imahen, Retorika at Anyo (LIRA) and kilometer 64 Poetry Collective (km64), a 2010 fellow (for poetry in Filipino) of the Ateneo de Manila University National Writers Workshop, and an associate member of the National Union of People’s Lawyers. Her poems and feature articles in English and Filipino have appeared in various mainstream and alternative publications. Mao currently works for an international humanitarian organization.
The late Alexander Martin Remollino was a poet, journalist and activist from Laguna, Philippines. As an associate editor at Tinig.com and staff writer at Bulatlat.com, he wrote primarily about human rights and development issues affecting the marginalized sectors of society. His poetry in English and Filipino, which also focused on his advocacy, was published in several anthologies and alternative websites. Alex, a co-founder of Filipino Youth for Peace and Independent Media Center (Indymedia) – Quezon City and a member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, passed away in 2010 at the age of 33.

Publication information

  • “Sa pagkain natin ng bangus noong Setyembre 21” — Panata sa Paglaya (Manila, Philippines: kilometer64 Poetry Collective, 2009) and Lirang Pilak: 25 Taon ng Makatang LIRA. Ed. Virgilio S. Almario (Quezon City, Philippines: Aklat LIRA and Vibal Foundation, 2010)
  • “You are not mere names” — Duguang Lupa (Manila, Philippines: kilometer64 Poetry Collective, 2010)
  • English translation “As we were eating milkfish last September 21” by Alexander Martin Remollino (with prior permission for publication and performance)