Sorsogon, Philippines—Members of Bicol Art groups joined fisherfolk community members of Save Gubat Bay Movement in launching a community art project to visualize the impacts of  Balud Del Norte-Cota na Daco-Cogon Coastal Road and Shore Protection project to coastal communities in Gubat, Sorsogon.

Large boulders left from the road construction marked with the words: SAVE GUBAT BAY as an act of the community to take back what belongs to them. Note: Non-toxic water based paint was used on this rock.

The community art project entitled Sorsogon Initiatives for Culture and Arts Development (SICAD), led by artists from Kurit-Lagting Art Collective and  Concerned Artists of the Philippines with Sorsogon Arts Council, aims to amplify the effects of the 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 artistic collaboration with the people who are directly affected by the road project, seeks to collectively express their demands to our leaders to prioritize the welfare of the fisherfolk communities and economies dependent on them,” said visual artist and Sorsogon Arts Council members, Rico Estrellado and Choi Carretero.

Launched on April 9, the SICAD  project  aims to foster creativity in communities through a range of artist-led projects including lectures and workshops on banner making, sail painting, and installation art. 

The outputs were unveiled in a culminating event which was held at Calayucay Beach, Sitio Gumang, Brgy. Cota na Daco, Gubat, Sorsogon on April 22, 2022 during the Earth Day celebration.

Construction boulders line up the shoreline of Calayucay Beach

Supported by 1Sambayan Sorsogon and Kasanggayahan Foundation, the  community art project encourages people’s engagement and participation in advocating issues through art.

“The artworks made by the community highlight the destruction of natural resources that will cause additional burden to the livelihood and economy of the entire community once the road project pushes through. Thus, the works reflected the people’s awareness about the issue, and strengthened  their connection to their place,” said JC Jamoralin of CAP Bicol.

Photo caption: Artists and community members during the art workshops and art production phases of the SICAD project.

According to Allan Abrigo, one of the co-founders of the Kurit-Lagting Art Collective, these free, public events provided an opportunity for us to meet and talk with affected community members, learn about the area’s experiences, and create vibrant banners, sails and installations throughout the community space that depicted their calls and demands for a clean and healthy environment and sustainable livelihood. 

“Kami na mga parasira an mao na apektado suun na proyekto na wara man kasiguruhan para sa amo. Mao na ini an kinamulatan mi na lugar, dini na din bagaw ang amo na pagkabuhay. Pagpinadagus yadi na coastal, mawawaraan  talaga kami (We, as fisherfolks, are among the most affected by misplaced priorities. This is our common home and if the coastal road project pushes through, we would lose our source of livelihood and we would have nothing),” said Rofe “Ar-Ar” Doncillo, one of the affected residents of the coastal road project. 

Using recyclable materials, non-toxic water-based paints, found objects, coco cloth, and bamboo frames, each artist and community member finished art pieces as a testament to their hopes and struggles.

Indigenous materials and the natural surroundings also provided the artists and community members the tools and resources to help them visualize their concepts and ideas.

“ We learned a lot in this community art project, especially in caring for our environment. We were able to utilize what nature has provided for us to finish our artworks, and taught us the power of collective effort to voice the concerns of the community,” said Jose Vicente Garcia Jr., Don Angelou Laureta,Venus Briñola and John Sola, artists-facilitators of Kurit-Lagting Art Collective.

“Naaraman mi na may-on nin dianisun na paagi kun papan-o man namo maibalangibog bagaw yaa na mga namamatean tungkol dini sa problema na konstraksyon. Mao na ngani yaa na pagpurupinta nan kurit-kurit. Naghiringuha na kami na magkasarayu na makahuman nin obra tungkol sa mga tagu-tago na kaborot-on nan istorya sa bongto mi (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), ended Lorna “Manay Ising” Gallardo, community leader and member of Save Gubat Bay Movement (SGBM).

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In a joint statement by the group, the said coastal road project failed to go through proper consultation with stakeholders as no evaluation, assessment and study on the impact of the coastal road was released to the public. Bayan Muna lawmakers also filed the House Resolution 2534 pushing for inquiry on socio-economic, and environmental impact of the said coastal road project. The said house resolution was borne out of the illegal move of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in initiating project implementation without an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) issued by the Department of Environment and

Natural Resources (DENR). 

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For more information:

CAP Bicol

https://www.facebook.com/CAPBikol

About the organizations: 

The 1Sambayan-Sorsogon Chapter is part of 1Sambayan National, which is a broad coalition of democratic forces representing the basic sectors in Sorsogon that aims to usher in a competent, trustworthy administration in the May 2022 national elections. 

The Kurit-Lagting is a collective artistic collaboration of Bicolano artists from Sorsogon, Albay, Catanduanes, Masbate and Camarines provinces with art advocacies on human rights and the environment. 

The Art Collective is a member of the Sorsogon Arts Council and the Concerned Artists of the Philippines Bicol Chapter. 

The Sorsogon Arts Council (SAC) is a local body of Sorsoganon artists founded by the late writer, Reynaldo Jamoralin. SAC advocates for indigenous, regional and Filipino artistic talents and the enhancement, development and promotion of Filipino culture.

The Concerned Artists of the Philippines Bicol Chapter (CAP-Bicol) is one of CAP’s newest chapters formed in October 2020, which is composed of artists, musicians, writers, filmmakers and cultural workers from various disciplines that work toward a nationalist, people-oriented art and culture. One of CAP’s founders is Lino Brocka, a national artist for Film who was born in Sorsogon.