Once in a Photograph
09.03.2005

Knock on the window so he goes away.

Everybody knows that. Even they know that. Don't look out, don't look at their faces, and of course, never look straight into their eyes. To protect ourselves from the pain of having compassion, we dull our responses. We knock on our car windows.

Go away.

Not because we are annoyed, but because we are angry at our imagined powerlessness about the situation outside the comfort of our cars. How wrong we are. We are not helpless.

Finding a Center

In the darkest periods of social history, outer events would only be changed if we had a center. It is only within our selves that we can alchemize the ugly truth about poverty and our apathy-- into a justified comfort zone we can stay in. Therefore, it is only also from this very 'gut-core' place do we find the courage to find solutions.

The arts, whether visual, literary or performing, is a good place to start searching for our center.

Speaking Our Language

The "What is Our National Language?" argument is age-old. Should it be Visayan, statistically more widely-spoken, or Tagalog-- the language of imperial Manila? A great number of us think and speak in English. Many of us have nationalistic sentiments and we best express them in English. The irony is appalling. This article, case in point.

Rock Ed Philippines decided to choose the arts as its interim 'national language.' At least until that argument is resolved. We choose the arts to be our center. We have a feeling it is through photographs and music, poetry and film, dance and sports, literature and theatre, and all other art forms that we can best communicate with each other. Mag-usap na tayo.

Learning from the Artist

This is why we give the artist such importance, because he or she possesses the power to change from within; art becomes the force which could solve conflicts and dualities. Perhaps, for now, art is our native tongue.

We do not say turn away or escape-- as is the default accusation when people find out Rock Ed is not usually involved in partisan politics. No, this is not an escape. We cannot turn away from social history, because it is necessary to maintain our accountability to society, but we need to create a center of strength and resistance to disappointments and failures in outward events for there have been, and will be, many.

We start from 'what makes us proud.' Then it is the arts. This is Rock Ed's center.

From here we draw our action plans.

Getting the Balance Right

We create from our inner world. But we draw true wisdom by working for causes we consider worthwhile. We balance both our world of introspection and our world of action. For isn't that one of the main points of life?

We encourage the inner journey for every Filipino. The artist's journey, the quest for a center. Even if you are not comfortable with the label 'artist.' Take the quest. So go where this photograph takes you.

Drowning No More

It has been said that one of the Filipino people's best traits is that we are resilient. May we only be resilient to the wrath of nature or the force majeurs. However we should NOT be resilient to the lies we've inherited for generations. We should not be flotsam to political tides. We should liberate ourselves from the culture of mistrust and envy, the clawing at each other, dragging the other one down. Enough.

We should be defying the unnamed "wala ka nang magagawa" wave that has drowned most of us unnecessarily - not knowing that we were idiotically drowning in shallow water. Today, the young Filipino stands up.

When you knock on your car window, they do go away, but only from your sight. You know that many are still standing in the rain. They, too, are knocking from the outside.

There will be frustration within this choice. But for today, the Rock Ed volunteer chooses the possibility of frustration over apathy. We have been indifferent for far too long. We have exerted effort for far lesser things.

So we beg you -

No more excuses, Philippines.

Enough.

text: Gang Badoy
photo credit: Jake Verzosa copyright 200