Posted on 20 July 2012 by admin
July 20, 2012
On Monday afternoon, before President Benigno Aquino III’s annual State of the Nation Address (SONA), an alliance of people’s organizations will set aflame a 14-ft effigy of the President on Commonwealth Avenue.
The protest artwork, conceptualized by UGATLahi Artist Collective and umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, portrays the current Commander-in-chief as Two-Face: the Batman comic villain with a half charming, half menacing face riding atop a bulldozer. It is an indictment of Aquino’s performance leading up to his third year as Philippine president. “Having two faces means being deceptive. That is what this government has excelled in the past two years,” said Crisanto de Leon, chair of UGATLahi.
The right side of the effigy presents Aquino as the charming suitor, complete with his signature yellow shirt and broad smile. In his right hand is a bouquet of flowers: “parang nanliligaw, pero mambobola” added de Leon. The words PPP and CCT stem from the bouquet, alluding to the president’s much vaunted projects, Public-Private Partnership and Conditional Cash Transfer.
Though Aquino claims these projects will alleviate the hardships of the poor, the number of families below the poverty line continues to increase at an alarming rate under his administration. It is perhaps for this reason that the flowers in Aquino’s clenched hand are already wilted and dying.
In sharp contrast, hideous scars and rotten flesh mar the left side of his face, a menacing grin reflecting the insidious gleam in his eyes. In the backdrop, a US spy plane is suspended over his shoulder, while his left hand wields an instrument of torture.
These symbols are a critique of increased US military intervention and unmitigated rise in human rights violations. The number of extrajudicial killings under Aquino’s watch surpassed its hundredth count just last week according to rights group Karapatan.
The bulldozer meanwhile symbolizes Aquino’s destructive mining policy and the demolition of houses to give way to so-called development projects.
Despite recent projections of economic growth, Bayan remains unconvinced that the rosy statistics are a true reflection of the plight of the people. This economic growth, according to UGATLahi, has only been achieved at the expense of the exploited poor. “While mining and housing projects have proved profitable for the private sector, the masses have only seen demolished homes, loss of livelihood and an unbearably grim future,” de Leon said.
As the countdown to the day of action begins, the artists and volunteers work tirelessly through a string of sleepless nights to finish the effigy.
Asked if he will be sad to see his hard work burn to pieces, de Leon resolutely states, “No, not at all. We’re happy to burn it.” ###
TRIVA: The artists have recycled Aquino’s first SONA effigy in 2010, the one which they did not burn.
Renato M. Reyes, Jr.
Bayan Secretary General
Public Information Officer