I am a feminist and an art activist. I started to paint again last 2014 to use painting as my diary. I love painting my story, I paint out of frustration, hatred, sadness and the emotions I had, and have at present. I paint my experiences when I was a little girl, my teenage life, when I was working as an entertainer in Japan, the life I had when I was a migrant worker, when I lived alone raising two children, being a single mother in the land that treated me as an alien, that time when I had to fight for my son’s custody, to fight for my freedom from an unhappy marriage, my time when I was vulnerable with all the harrasment and violence. Until today I am still fighting for my freedom as a woman, campaigning for divorce law, for my children’s legal documentation and everything. So yes, a woman’s life is tough.
When I joined the organization batis-AWARE 2015, I heard a lot of stories, a powerful one, stories from a group of women age ranging from early 20’s up to late 60’s. I felt the same, I have the same situation, the same issues. From the first day I knew batis-AWARE I felt that I had to do something, I had to make these women with their children’s stories be heard. But how can I do that? I am not a writer.
One day while sitting and thinking which I usually do, I decided to paint women’s stories. I will call this “ABKD Babae series: Kwentong Buhay ng mga Pilipina” (ABCD women series: A life story of Filipino women). I started to paint not only the story of women in my organization but the stories of Filipino women. I started to see women who are currently working abroad, some are house wife, some are homeless, some are ex abroad workers, some are tricycle driver, some are single mother, some are widowed, but most of them has the same issue, abuse, violence on women and children, poverty, hopelessness, broken hearted and more. I come up with creating a series of women’s stories through the medium of painting.
The purpose of this project is to raise awareness on women’s issue, to uplift the lives of marginalized women, to empower women to educate people through art, help them understand the importance of women in the society.
In celebration of Women’s month I was invited to expose my paintings at LWUA Local Water Utilities Administration under GAD Gender and Development Office. I and a good friend who is also an extra multipotentialite person R.Z. organized the said event and we are thrilled to make it possible.
The day I am installing the paintings, I heard a lot of negative words about the paintings and the painter. four out of ten people, mostly are women said “the painter is obscene, nasty” , “the painting is ugly”, “why do you expose women’s body?”
That day I saw and realize how people easily judge art. It was hurtful but it was actually educational for me. I hope people will open their mind and heart about it, I hope women will start to embrace and love their flaws, their body, I hope women will start to accept that their body has so much potential rather than as a sexual object only.I hope people will stop body shaming, I hope people will start to recognize the importance of vagina, I hope people change their ways.
On Thursday March 22, LWUA-GAD wants me to pull out my paintings from their lobby, this is to end the what they say “sexuality” of my paintings, but for me and R. Z. we already made a decision to embrace all the negativity, we will use the experience positively, I know this is just the beginning of our advocacy.
Sharing here the pictures of the opening exibit event and also the paintings.