In the Philippines, the struggle for the environment may very well be an abstraction to the urbanity. The brunt of environmental issues are in the countryside, where mining, deforestation, and over-extraction of resources pose a direct threat to the indigent rural communities. When we go into more complex issues as climate change, it becomes harder to explain as it involves figures, statistics, and materials that are indiscernible to the naked eye.
How then, will we be able to mobilize the broadest ranks of Filipino people to campaign for the environment if it is nothing to them but cold logic and trivia? It is an issue that is scientifically grounded but politically charged, and it is said that politics isn’t merely a battle of facts, but a war of hearts and minds. This is where our role as the cultural worker is of integral need.
Below are some examples of art and design works that help arouse, organize and mobilize the citizens of the world to struggle for climate justice.
Visuals. It is easier to communicate the message of climate advocacy by visualizing its science and politics. Explaining the greenhouse effect and the impacts of global temperature increase is easier with information design. For example, below is a poster primer I designed for the Philippine Climate Watch Alliance containing a popularized explanation of climate change’s impacts on Filipino communities:Vodpod videos no longer available.
Music. There is no better way to pull the climate-active heartstrings than with environmental music and lyrics. Culturally localized pieces especially endear our message to the sectors. Below is a performance by Karl Ramirez, the founding chair of 350 Philippines lead organizer Agham Youth (AY), and Roselle Pineda of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines, in the Rhythm and Rhymes of the Environment cultural night that was organized as part of AY’s work party activities. It is a reggae version of the Ilocano environmental song Gatan by DKK:Vodpod videos no longer available.
Literature. Writers have long written about nature, and in modern times about the need to protect it and the people it nurtures. Giving poetic quality to our message engages the reader on a level different from mere logic. Below is a poem written by Piping Walang Kamay entitled “Subok” that was orated in the Rhythm and Rhymes cultural night:
magustuhan mo pa kaya ako
kung hindi mo na makitang luntian
ang aking buong anyo?
kung hindi mo na masilayan ang mga maya
at pipit, at tikling, at kahit ang lawin at agila
na nagpapaligsahan sa paglipat sa aking bawat sanga?
magustuhan mo pa kaya ako
kung makita mong panot na ang aking anyo?
kapag namataan mong tuyot na ang aking sapa
at naghihingalo na ang dating kay sigla kong ilog
iyo kaya itong ikalulugod?
isasalba mo ba ang nalalapit kong pagkawala?
o tatalikuaran mo ako’t kahit pagluha di mo magagawa?
wag kang magsisisi
ako’may tumatangis na para sa aking sarili
malapit ng mahuli ang lahat
There is much that Art can do, beyond being dead for its own sake, as a weapon for change. It is a creative and engaging method of educating the Filipino masses on the effects of climate change on our underdeveloped economy and society. Let 10/10/10 be the day, then, that the call for the Filipino Artist to bring his craft to life by linking it with the living, breathing movement of the masses working for a safer climate future, and for the defense of mother nature and mother land be sounded.
Let’s Get to (Cultural) Work!