By TOMAS TALLEDO*
Then it was seven Antique martyrs of August 2018 but recently nine Tumandok lives were snuffed off as the dawn was breaking at the tail end of 2020. Such unwelcome gifts from the horsemen of Apocalypse: NTF-ELCAC of Badoy and Paralde, PNP’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the 12th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.
Given his keen aesthetics, PG Zoluaga captured these tragedies unflinchingly so unlike those local painters with low social commitment quotient (SCQ). On affiliations he lists identifications as visual artist, songwriter, musician active in Hubon sang mga Musikero nga Ilonggo and Iloilo Visual Artists’ Collective, Inc. Zoluaga’s art is already way beyond the crude stage of artist’s self-admiration.
The REQUIEM PANAYANON painting jiggers my prescience what to expect for this year 2021. Will we have more of the same but upended higher under Duterte’s tyranny? Lo! cornocupia of lies and corruptions, unabated arrests and incarcerations, and massacres galore because a dying beast goes berserk at its last gasp of existence.
The red blood depicted in Zoluaga’s piece snakingly flows like the ancestral rivers in Tumandok lands. The winding ripples twined below the navels of these figures as if tugging them to stay immobile. But hear no petty cavilings from their travails, these are steadfast clan leaders who are vigorously marching along the correct line-of-path. I just saw my middle-class ego so tiny as a Liliputian.
The nine bullet-riddled bodies of Roy Giganto, Reynaldo Katipunan, Mario Aguirre, Eliseo Gayas Jr., Artilito Katipunan, Sr.,Maurito Diaz, Sr., Jomar Vidal, Garson Catamin, and Rolando Diaz, Sr. are unmistakable and they are all here. But Zoluaga had them face the horizon with their backs at viewer’s eyes evincing a determined departure. They are leaving us lowland petty bourgeois behind frolicking in our comfort zones.
Unless so consciously cared for, pen and ink on paper is not the best medium, in my opinion, for this piece to last through generations. Time is the master of impermanence and the artist Zuloaga knew this pretty well. He probably had chosen this depiction because while art object is ephemeral those hero-subjects of History are immemorial. The names of these nine martyrs have now entered the forthcoming sugidanon-epics of Tumandok.
Feel free to disagree because for me these figurative depictions in art parallel Platonic forms. The template exists somewhere in ethereal realm accessible only through reason. They are presumably indestructible but their material counterparts present here and now amongst us take part in our finitude, our mortality but energizes the arrival of a socialist society.
*Social Science faculty, UP Visayas and member of CONTEND-UP