Arts & Culture

Art & Culture: DAKILA’s Independence Day art exhibit showcases patriotic artworks centered on the country’s social issues

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – In a time when freedom in the Philippines is suppressed—what with multiple crackdowns on dissenters amid the seemingly unending health and human rights crises, the right to freedom of artistic expression has been put on lockdown.

But on commemoration of the 123rd Independence Day last Saturday, Filipinos all over the world have taken over both public and private spaces, on-ground and online, to raise custom “banners of power” that celebrate our rights, freedom, and democracy as part of the BANDERA: Itaguyod ang Kalayaan Mo art exhibition. The theme is a pledge to the continuous struggle for freedom.

Led by DAKILA and Active Vista, the exhibit united ordinary citizens, artists, advocates, communities, and organizations across the globe to create artwork banners using mediums of their choice. It’s free form — true to the essence of liberty.


Together, they hung their banderas outside their homes—even taking to the streets to raise their grievances, amplify their statements, and express their freedoms. Those who couldn’t leave their homes took to the digital spaces to display their kalayaan banners.

Freedom and Diversity: Liberty in form and message of expression

The diverse set of stories illustrated through this exhibit’s artwork banners show us that freedom should be celebrated — not curtailed. In fact, dissent and expression are the lifeblood of democracy. Keeping the voice of democracy strong, here are some of the many “banners of freedom” we couldn’t stop thinking about:

1. Layas/Laya by Micheline Rama (@michalltogether)

Description: Layas/Laya xft. 45 x 30 Fabric

Using scraps of multi-colored fabric to recreate the Philippine flag, Rama utilizes the clever play-on-words of Layas (Run Away) and Laya (Freedom) to illustrate a striking distinction between the two. Her caption writes,

“Layas (Run Away) – escape, avoid, retreat

Laya (Freedom) – liberation, emancipation, release.”

The diction of the word “Layas” conveys a different meaning than the otherwise known command used to bark at others to leave or get out. Rama’s piece can be interpreted as a contrast between those longing to escape the motherland as a form of liberation versus actual freedom.

2. Iisang Dagat by Kevin Eric Raymundo (@tarantadongkalbo)

Description: Iisang Dagat ft. Tarpaulin Art

In komikero Kevin Eric Raymundo’s, publicly known as Tarantadong Kalbo, tarpaulin artwork, Chinese characters are scrawled across a bold red background. The letter, “U” is tucked under the sea of red, as if to disclose a hidden message amidst a relatively familiar visual space. Charged with a sense of revolutionary zeal, Raymundo’s piece can be seen as a timely open letter towards the perpetrators of colonialism and imperialism in Philippine modern society.

3. Mga Dasal Estampitas/Banderitas by Angelo Magno (@the_mask_maker)

Description: Mga Dasal Estampitas/Banderitas ft. Prints on Sewn Canvas

The Catholic-inspired installation serves as “an attempt to create a collection of fragmented narratives of desires, wishes and secrets.” The texts written on the banderitas are confessions made by various individuals which Magno has collected over the years. The prayers selected for this installation reflect the hopes and desires of many during this remembrance of Independence Day,” Magno writes.

4. To Exist by the Panag Tagbo (@thepanagtagbo)


Description: To Exist ft. Video

The Mindanaoan art collective daringly projects a video onto the wall of Life Cycle Coffee in Davao City. “To exist as an artist in Davao City is the revolution,” the text reads. Understanding the context in Davao City, outsiders may consider the installation reckless. However, the act of projecting on public grounds is, in itself, a method of liberation. One that is bold, courageous, and downright shameless.

5. Sige, Pumasok Ka by Jenn Ban (@jenn.ban)

Description: Sige Pumasok Ka ft. Mixed Media

Eccentric, watchful eyes are a recurring symbol in local artist Jenn Ban’s work. In the middle of a forest in San Francisco, Ban’s piece hangs above a golden doorway, gazing at its viewers. “Inside is where u will find true freedom,” she captions her Instagram post. Thus, it is no surprise that the work’s placement, as well as its proportions are seemingly centered in both a physical and mental manner. Ban is known for her introspective, vulnerable artwork—always denoting the power of inwardness, and finding one’s place in the world often begins with one’s own heart.

It is consequently at the heart of Ban’s work that one learns the value of protecting the home amidst trials and struggles. Freedom, among many things, is to have a place you can call home.

These are their banners of freedom. May all these encourage us to continue standing up for our rights, freedoms, democracy, and sovereignty — on Independence Day and beyond.

You can find more BANDERA! artwork banners at DAKILA’s Instagram page.

Partner with adobo Magazine

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