Philippine Independence Day came around this year during a grim time for democracy. Three days before the national holiday, 83 activists, journalists, and farmers in Tinang, Tarlac were unjustly harassed and detained by state forces. With a brutal administration coming to a close, the Philippines also transitions to a new presidency with the same legacy of impunity, violence, and deceit—the only difference being its new yet all too familiar face. To uphold the continuing fight to assert our rights and democracy, Filipino citizens came together through BANDERA!: ITAGUYOD ANG KATOTOHANAN, an alternative art exhibit commemorating Philippine Independence Day 2022.
Standing for truth and freedom through art
DAKILA and its Active Vista Center brought back BANDERA! for another timely run this June. In 2021, it was launched online for Independence Day as it stood for the Filipino people’s crucial role in fighting for democracy and human rights. This year, the assertion still holds in the current socio-political landscape of the Philippines.
For the exhibit, citizens were invited to create artwork banners that responded to the prompt: “Sa panahon ng binubulag, binubusalan, at binibinging lipunan, anong mga katotohanan ang gusto nating palayain?” This came as a mandatory point of reflection following the onslaught of attacks on activists and minorities, human rights violations, censorship attempts, electoral fraud, and widespread disinformation in the Philippines.
124 flags for the 124th Philippine Independence Day
BANDERA! kicked off both online and on-grounds at Bantayog ng Mga Bayani on June 12, 2022, with around 124 flags submitted. On social media, citizens from the Philippines and abroad shared their own banners made in different mediums, ranging from physical creations to digital artworks.
Holding BANDERA! on-grounds at Bantayog ng Mga Bayani in Quezon City—The Philippines’ sole museum honoring the heroes and martyrs who fought to topple the Marcos Dictatorship—was a stand for truth and freedom in itself. For its own Independence Day celebration, the museum was a site of solidarity as it opened its doors to the public for a picnic. Here, DAKILA and Active Vista set up a booth where picnic-goers were welcome to create their own banners and take part in the exhibit. By the end of the gathering, the grass framing the monument with names of heroes and martyrs was seeded with flags echoing the defiance of protest placards and art.
Beyond Manila, BANDERA! also took place in Iloilo at HILWAY: A Celebration of Freedom in All Forms. The event was an initiative by DAKILA Iloilo and the local fellows of Heroes Hub, Active Vista’s youth leadership and advocacy development program. Held at Lola Uma Cafe Y Cantino in Jaro, the celebration’s festivities included an open mic, interactive bandera making, and live music.
Though these times may be dark for the Philippines, the citizen-made flags created for BANDERA! are a reminder of the power that Filipinos hold to resist, expose, and surface. Ultimately, art is, has, and will always be one of the most defiant ways to stand for our rights and freedom. Itaguyod ang bandera ng iyong mapagpalayang pag-iisip!