Art exhibit features works of political prisoners

An art exhibit featuring the works of political prisoners opens today at the lobby of the National Housing Authority. Titled “Artworks from Confined Spaces,” the exhibit features some of the works of political prisoners at the Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City and New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City.

“Some of them began drawing or painting outside prison. Most of them were able to hone their talents while facing the hardships inside the walls of prison,” said Bonifacio Ilagan, SELDA vice-chairperson.

They are a combination of young and old political prisoners who were able to gather a collection of their works while inside different detention centers.

“They face various trumped-up charges, a far cry from their lifetime commitment to struggle for justice and democracy. It is such an injustice that they are robbed of their youth, they are denied of their freedom. Through this exhibit, let us see through the eyes of the political prisoners. As they say, we are inside the larger prison of society,” Ilagan said.

Featured political prisoners are peace consultants for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines Tirso Alcantara, Alan Jazmines and Eduardo Sarmiento; youth activists-turned-peasant organizers Voltaire Guray, Reynaldo delos Santos, Hermogenes Reyes and Sandino Esguerra.

There are currently 489 political prisoners in the country. More than a hundred of them were arrested on trumped-up criminal charges under the Aquino government. The exhibit aims to echo the call to free all political prisoners.

Guray, one of the political prisoners, said he and his fellow political prisoners hope that their works will be seen by many people.

“Ang mga likhang sining ang sisimbolo para ipaabot ang tuloy-tuloy naming pakikibaka kasama ang malawak na sambayanan sa labas ng bilangguan. Ito rin ang maghahatid ng aming kalagayan at karanasan, at ang kabulukan ng sistema sa loob ng bilangguan. Ang aming sining ay patuloy na maglilingkod sa sambayanan (The artworks symbolizes our continuing struggle with the broad masses of the people outside prison. These also portray our situation and experiences, and the rotten system inside prison. Our art will continue to serve the people).”

The exhibit is a joint effort of the NHA Employees Union, the Confederation of Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE), Concerned Artist of the Philippines (CAP), Bayan Muna, KARAPATAN and SELDA. It will run from May 30 to June 6.

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