Tumindig: The power of protest art

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Artwork compilation: Tarantadong Kalbo (@KevinKalbo) on Twitter

by Susan Mae Loseo

              “Artista ng Bayan, ngayon ay lumalaban,” calls the initiator of the Tumindig movement — Kevin Eric Raymundo, more commonly known as Tarantadong Kalbo.

              On July 17, Raymundo posted on Twitter an image of clenched fist characters bowing down seemingly in submission except for the white glowing avatar in the middle that is standing up in resistance. The idea of “fist people” was inspired by the signature gesture of President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies. Without much context other than his “Tumindig” caption, Raymundo’s artwork captured the attention of fellow artists who subsequently made their own fist avatars, turning his artwork into a political online movement.

              Raymundo expressed that he did not intend to start a campaign or a challenge, he merely wanted to use his platform to express his thoughts as an artist and help people to become more socially aware. He wanted to emphasize that sometimes, it only takes “one drop to start a ripple,” or one person to stir the masses. 

Artwork: Tarantadong Kalbo (@KevinKalbo) on Twitter

              Support from fellow artists, student organizations, and progressive groups came in waves. Raymundo expressed his gratitude for everyone who joined him in solidarity by posting a template of his fist avatar, retweeting unique Tumindig artworks, and compiling these into one image, with his original fist character in the center. There are also student groups who made their own artwork compilations, collectively expressing their dissent on the current administration.

Artwork compilation: Union of Progressive Students on Facebook
Artwork compilation: Nagkahiusang Kusog sa Estudyante on Facebook

UP Cebu student artists speak up

Artwork: Altheya Pulvera

              For Altheya Pulvera, the Tumindig movement is an act of resistance to “the oppressive agencies that continue to prevail and terrorize both land and people,” highlighting “the atrocities and negligence forwarded by the Duterte admin.” And it was for this reason that she joined the movement. Her artwork is representative of her unique qualities as an individual similar to the majority of other Tumindig versions. She also noticed how this particular campaign is as much a celebration of individual differences as it is an expression of political unity.

Artwork: Gratz Jul-Elijah Redoble

              According to Gratz Jul-Elijah Redoble, it was the immediate collaboration of various artists and the artwork compilations that made them realize “the weight of the #Tumindig movement as a whole.” Similarly, they just made their own fist character which “best represents myself and my principles.”

Artwork: Densel Almeda

              For Densen Almeda, “the worrying actions made by the government and their unrighteous response to people’s call of their incompetence” prompted him to participate in the movement. As someone who has no experience in digital art, Almeda opted for a traditional painting. He decided to improvise by adding the eye on the wrist and some bright colors.

              “I wanted to convey that I, as a Filipino, will stand and fight for what’s right in any way I can. In this case, I will devote my art for the betterment of my country.”

              To what extent do art and politics affect each other?

              “Art is innately political, no matter which angle you look at it from,” said Pulvera. She highlights that it “impacts politics in the way that it is able to stir traction and garner support or discontent for the message it brings,” as proven by the Tumindig movement. Likewise, politics fuel the production of art, as the latter “ultimately exists to be both utilitarian and autonomous.”

              “What sparks your motivation to create art is inspired by something… And that inspiration you’re trying to get an idea from is influenced by a larger form of politics,” Redoble pointed out.

              Almeda believes that regardless of an artist’s purpose to create art, even if it ignores societal matters and focuses more on aesthetics, the notion of “unconcern is also a political position.” Furthermore he expressed that it is unnecessary for art “to be explicitly political for it to be political. As politics tangles more and more into our daily lives, it saturates into our art.”

              One thing that the Tumindig movement has shown is how much strength there really is in numbers. Part of combatting systematic oppression is reducing political apathy, especially at this critical time.

              “I think that it is about time people stop being indecisive and actually try to take their own stands. Neutrality and apathy benefits no one but the oppressor,” said Pulvera.

              Redoble advocates to “stop being complacent.” Not being directly affected by the drastic economic and financial pressures is a luxury not everybody can afford. “Start making a difference, take the first step,” she said.

              “Now that we have a platform to learn and to speak up, we must utilize that to stand not just for ourselves but for the people who need to be heard. A single voice can amplify a thousand sentiments,” Almeda said.

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