October 7, 2022

Bicol Express News

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Art groups launch Environmental Art Project to Save Gubat Bay in Sorsogon, Philippines

A large pile of rock boulders for construction are scattered along Calayucay Beach

Members of various art groups, multi-sectoral coalitions, and civil society organizations launched the Sorsogon Initiatives for Culture and Arts Development (SICAD) project with the goal to “kick-off” a series of collective and creative actions to highlight the impacts of destruction of natural resources of Balud Del Norte-Cota Na Daco-Cogon Coastal Road and Shore Protection project in Gubat, Sorsogon, Philippines.

OPPOSING DISLOCATION , DESTRUCTION

According to Msgr. Francisco Monje, the lead convenor of 1SAMBAYAN Sorsogon Chapter and president of Kasanggayahan Foundation, Inc., fisherfolks along the coastal barangays of Gubat, Sorsogon will also be forced to move out of their homes due to the road construction project.

“Our communities are currently facing a threat of destruction due to a coastal road project that would kill the biodiversity of the area such as trees, mangroves, and reefs including fish, crab, and turtle spawning grounds. This may also cause substantial socio-economic losses and dislocation of the population and change of livelihood. Moreover, high levels of carbon emissions and pollution will soar once our coasts become thoroughfares. Is this the kind of precedent we are setting for urban development in the country? What is the use of development if it is not for the broader public good?, ” he said.

A large pile of rock boulders for construction are scattered along Calayucay Beach

COMMUNITY-IN-LEARNING PROCESS

The SICAD community art project started on April 9-21, 2022 through lectures, art workshops, and art productions, which was joined by participants under the Save Gubat Bay Movement (SGBM) composed of different sectoral organizations representing the fisherfolks and crab farmers (Cota na Daco Crablet Workers, Samahan Alay sa Kalikasan Cooperative, Alyansa san mga Parasira san Sorsogon, Sorsogon King Crab Association Inc.) of Gubat, Sorsogon.

The said event, led by artists from the Concerned Artists of the Philippines Bicol Chapter, Kurit-Lagting Art Collective, and Sorsogon Arts Council, covered topics on banner making, sail painting, and installation art production carrying the calls to highlight the destruction of natural resources that will cause additional hardship to the livelihood and economy of the entire community.

ART TO AROUSE ENVIRONMENT AWARENESS

The culminating activity was held at Calayucay Beach, Sitio Gumang, Barangay Cota na Daco, in Gubat, Sorsogon on April 22, 2022, which unveiled the outputs made during the workshops and featured performances, banner and sail parade, exhibit, music, poetry, film showing, and discussions.

“This artistic collaboration with the people who are directly affected by the coastal road project, aims to amplify their demands to our local government to prioritize the welfare of the local fishery communities and economies dependent on them,” said visual artist and Sorsogon Arts Council member, Rico Estrellado.

For community leader Lorna “Manay Ising” Gallardo, the community art project is a testament to their hopes and struggles.

“We learned that there are other ways to voice out our concerns and art is one of these. Collaboration is the key in creating artworks to help tell our stories for all to understand,” she said.

Artists and community members during the lectures and art workshops. The said events also observed proper COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols to ensure and make everyone aware of the evolving community transmission risk.

CONNECTING PEOPLE VIA RECYCLABLE MATERIALS, ART

Using recyclable materials, coco cloth, and non-toxic, water-based paints, participants were able to make banners and sails complete with illustrations, statements, and calls which were then mounted on make-shift bamboo frames.

Community members also utilized found objects and indigenous materials to create installation art pieces that reflected the people’s awareness, engagement, participation through art and strengthened people’s connection to their place.

“We created several artworks that visualize the impacts of the road project to the coastal ecosystem and biodiversity. The process of the installation art allowed others to be participants to create a space for discussion about issues and concerns in the community while the images on the banners and sails tell stories of refuge, displacement, and migration and we really want to show that these might happen here,” added Allan Abrigo and Choi Carretero, co-founders of Kurit-Lagting Art Collective.

PETITION LAUNCHED AT change.org

In a petition filed by Save Gubat Bay Movement at change.org, the said coastal road project failed to go through proper public consultation with stakeholders as no evaluation, assessment and study on the impact of the coastal road was released to the public.

The petition also cited that the coastal road project is a false solution to the climate crisis as the local government has never done any comprehensive study regarding such concern and that no economic benefits were ever presented for communities directly affected by the project.