Arts & CulturePress Release

Arts & Culture: This exhibit on Martial Law was created by women who experienced its violence firsthand

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — The Ateneo de Manila Political Science department, with support from the Ateneo Art Gallery, the Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), is presenting “Weaving Women’s Words on Wounds of War,” an exhibition of artworks co-created with communities of women who have experienced extraordinary atrocities, aggression, and violent contestation during the Martial Law regime under President Ferdinand Marcos.

Half a century since, the women in Palimbang in Sultan Kudarat; Tabuk and Buscalan in Kalinga; Lake Sebu and Tboli in South Cotabato; Manili in Carmen, Cotabato; Jolo in Sulu; and in the vast home waters of the Sama peoples in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, have chosen to share intimate and dangerous details of their lives through artmaking.

The exhibition introduces the public to the impact of impunity in small Muslim and katutubò communities. Martial Law allowed the government to regard the Philippines’ interior areas as available—with no constraints—to natural resource exploitation. The large-scale projects were articulated as grand national development strategies, which did not recognize the prior stake of small communities living in the areas to be denuded, or flooded, dug up, or flattened — literally or culturally.


Such exploitation and abuse generated resistance from the communities that the President assumed would stand aside, to allow progress for the country’s dominant groups. The women who helped make this exhibition were among those who did not stand aside — who decided for direct participation in armed resistance to state policy inimical to their wellbeing, suffered extraordinary human rights violations, or both.

Curated by Marian Pastor Roces, the exhibit is part of a project titled “Surfacing Narratives Towards Transitional Justice in the North and South: Weaving Women’s Voices – A Memory Project,” under the Ateneo Political Science department that is supported by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID). Apart from the exhibit, the Weaving Project also includes field research in all six areas, the publication of a book, and a capacity-building program on transitional justice with a focus on women.

Apart from the exhibit team, the project includes Ateneo professors Dr. Ma. Lourdes Veneracion-Rallonza as director and Dr. Meynardo Mendoza as research lead respectively, as well as Robert Francis Garcia as manager and Maricel P. Hilario-Patiño as project officer.

The exhibition will run from August 22 to October 01. To schedule a visit, click here.

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