“Art should have relevance. In this time of pop culture, art should arouse the people in asserting their rights and fighting for their welfare.”
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA —At 3 a.m. today, Maria Sol Taule heaved a sigh of relief as she applied the finishing touches on the Rami cloth. Tomorrow, the handpainted barong tagalog (common formal attire in the Philippines) will be worn by Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate.
Zarate requested the 32-year-old lawyer to design his barong for President Duterte’s third State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday. Both are members of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL). Taule received the barong on Tuesday. She worked on it every night, upon going home from Karapatan office where she provides free paralegal and legal services.
On Thursday, Taule had to attend to the case of Australian missionary Patricia Fox, who has been ordered deported by the Bureau of Immigration. She juggled her time between two deadlines — Fox’s motion for reconsideration and Zarate’s barong. Deprived of enough sleep, Taule managed to finish both by Sunday.
The barong bears intricate images of ordinary Filipino men and women — indigenous peoples, a farmer, a construction worker, a teacher, a mine worker, a street vendor, an Aeta mother and her child, a Moro woman, a doctor.
Asked about her inspiration for the design, Taule said it’s her everyday encounters with the people who suffer from high prices and expensive social services. She also took inspiration from her clients, mostly poor victims of state violence.
The self-taught visual artist believes that art has a role in the people’s movement for genuine change. “Art should have relevance. In this time of pop culture, art should arouse the people in asserting their rights and fighting for their welfare,” Taule told Bulatlat in an online interview.
Taule said that artists should be involved in the struggles of the people. “It is through this kind of social practice that artists can create timely and timeless works,” Taule said.