News Southern Tagalog

Fisherfolk, artists stand ‘Against the Stream’ with anti-reclamation art exhibit

As Bacoor continued to be drowned in wave after wave of reclamation attempts, the fisherfolk in the area decided to stand “Against the Stream” with their art protest.

“Against the Stream” was held at a fishing community in Bacoor, Cavite last December 13, 2020 wherein visual artists showcased their unique and striking art works in the form of sails splashed with kaleidoscopes of color. All of which they made to stand in solidarity with who they deemed as “the most marginalized sector in the country:” the fisherfolk.

“Faced with the twin development aggressions of arson and reclamation, the people of Bacoor could use our solidarity, and in partaking of our solidarity, they also share with us their knowledge of community, their expertise in survival, and their strength and resiliency in fighting back,” peasant advocates and artists’ group Sama-samang Artista Para sa Kilusang Agraryo (SAKA) said.

The protest art exhibit, led by SAKA and fisherfolk federation Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamalakaya (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas), featured artworks that portrayed the lives and struggles of Filipino fishermen.

According to SAKA, the makeshift sails displayed on fishing boats that were lined up along the shore of Manila Bay in Bacoor were “designed to remind our fisherfolk that they have allies among the petit[e]-bourgeoisie [the lower middle class]  and all oppressed classes in their struggle for basic economic and political rights.”

This project began on November 19, 2020 to welcome the World Fisheries Day and was planned to be displayed in different fishing communities that are “facing profit-oriented projects and displacement.”

One of the many fishing communities facing development aggression was located in Bacoor.

Fishermen preparing their personalized sails. Photo from SAKA.

The other side of the coin

Despite the claims that government infrastructure projects in Bacoor bring about numerous benefits, these are only said to be for a selected few.

The project said to be anchored in development aggression included the 320-hectare Bacoor reclamation and development project, which was proposed by Bacoor Mayor Lani Mercado Revilla along with the 100-hectare Diamond Reclamation and Development Project. The former reclamation will displace more than 700 fishing and coastal families and threaten their livelihood amidst the global pandemic.

It will damage the clam and mussel farms of fishermen as well as the mangroves that prevent flooding in the area as said by Anakbayan Cavite. 

Ang pag-arangkada ng Bacoor Reclamation Project ay manipestasyon na hindi para sa interes ng mga mangingisda ang tuon ng lokal na gobyerno ng Cavite. Ang patuloy nilang pagsasakatuparan ng mga ganitong proyekto ang pumapatay sa industriya ng pagkaing-dagat sa lugar,” National Network of Agrarian Reform Advocates-Youth (NNARA-YOUTH) said.

Additionally, there have been five reported fire cases that took place in barangays located in Bacoor since 2017. All have been suspected to be arson, with suspicions suggesting that the fires were started to displace residents of coastal communities for the government projects.   

Alongside these projects are the Cavite-Bataan bridge, Riverside Easement Project, and the LRT-1 extension. Likewise, the construction of these infrastructures will displace hundreds of families. The latter project is even set to displace at least 1,100 households.  

More sails calling to end reclamation in Bacoor. Photo from SAKA.

Together we stand

With the struggles faced by the fishing and coastal communities similar to the events in Bacoor, SAKA stated that “these are the waves that propelled our visual protest.”

They also said that they were protesting while visiting different fishing communities to present the artworks in order to “stimulate discussion and gather solidarity” with fisherfolk.

For SAKA, exhibiting their art that pays tribute to our brave fisherfolk on the boats where they depend on would show that there are people who stand in solidarity with their sector.

“By displaying our art in the very boats that line their shores, we display our unity with the basic masses – for only by standing together will we overcome the growing fascism with which the terroristic state maintains systemic oppression,” said SAKA. [P]

Photo from SAKA / Facebook

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