MANILA – Expect to be welcomed by blue and green animals when you walk through the Paseo de Roxas underpass in Makati City.
This after Security Bank tapped artist-activist AG Saño – known for his ubiquitous dolphin murals in the Philippines – to help educate the public about environmental issues as part of its social responsibility arm.
Titled “Art in Defense of Mother Nature,” the ceiling mural features images of Philippine marine and terrestrial creatures equipped with metal armor – signifying the need to make a conscious effort to help ecosystems thrive.
Saño recently sat down with ABS-CBN News to share his experience working on his latest mural and to suggest ways on how Filipinos can help save the environment.
Below are excerpts from the interview:
Q: Tell us the story behind your latest mural, “Art in Defense of Mother Nature.”
“The latest project we’ve accomplished is a mural underpass at Paseo corner Ayala. It’s a 700-plus-square-meter ceiling that we finished in about 17 nights. And there were probably a total of 70 to 80 pairs of hands that got this down… Most of the people in that group are non-artists, and they became involved because they want to volunteer for the mission to paint environmental themes in streets around the Philippines and other parts of the world.
“In this mural, nilatag namin ‘yung mga iba’t ibang species sa Pilipinas – most of them are endangered so we need to do something about it – to get the word out that there are such animals that need help.”
Q: How is this mural different from your previous projects?
“Sobrang different siya in terms of what we’ve been painting, because we painted a ceiling. It’s 100% ceiling as opposed to a wall, or even floors. So ‘yung difficulty level is much higher because we had to look up. So physically it’s not that simple, hindi siya ganoon kadali.
“Also, we needed ladders and scaffolding every single time. There was no way for us to paint the ceilings without those equipment… Mahirap, masakit sa spine, and we had to do a lot of stretching. So it took a longer time, normally ‘yung 700 square meters, we can do that in one day kung wall siya or floor. Pero since the difficulty level was high, it took more than two weeks.”
Q: How and when you did you start using art to raise environmental awareness?
“Before I became a street artist, I was doing conservation work. I’ve been doing marine mammal research, monitoring the migration of humpback whales that go into Philippine territory every summer. That’s how I became heavily involved in conservation efforts in the Philippines, and then it branched out into advocacies. I’ve been doing anti-dolphin captivity for nine years now, using art as a medium.”
Q: Of all the murals and advocacy work you’ve done, which one is the most significant for you?
“Last 2013, I survived super typhoon Yolanda and that sparked me to do a lot more advocacies on climate justice. I lost three loved ones there, so ‘yun ‘yung motivation ko to do something. Because of that, I’ve been doing a lot of climate action in Europe, and even in the US, for the past five years.
“I saw the devastation, so I saw how things will happen in the future. And being in touch with scientists on the issues regarding the climate crisis, I know it’s going to be a tough future for humanity. I think we don’t have much time and we’re putting a lot of effort into communicating the science to the communities, ‘yung iba’t ibang endemic species sa Pilipinas. Most of them are endangered so we need to do something about it, to get the word out that there are such animals that need help.”
Q: Aside from spreading the word on endangered animals and the climate crisis, how else do you think can people protect and save the environment?
“Managing your waste is one thing because a big percentage of our marine pollution comes from inland, hindi siya coastal areas. Most likely galing siya sa landfill, so being a contributor to the landfills most likely makes us accomplices sa problema ng dagat. Minsan, iniisip natin walang damage ‘yung pagtatapon sa kalsada, pero sa totoo lang 80% ng basura galing sa inland, guilty tayo diyan. Iyong pumupuntang balat ng candy sa canal pupunta sa estero, tapos sa river, lalabas sa dagat, tapos kakainin ng mga sea creatures. Kasalanan natin ‘yun.
Video by Karen Flores Layno, ABS-CBN News
“Another way to help save the future of the planet is by eating less meat, less beef. At the very least, make sure hindi kayo kakain ng meat every Monday. Ganoon lang kasimple. Kumain kayo ng Tuesday to Sunday if you want, pero start with Meatless Monday. That could start something good for you.”
“Of course, companies play a huge role. Pino-produce pa rin nila ‘yung volumes and volumes of plastic. So whether bilhin natin or hindi, andiyan na ‘yan and the planet already suffers. If there’s a way for you to use your citizen power, community power to pressure the producers na nagsu-supply or nagso-source ng plastic, ‘yun ‘yung best way. Sila ‘yung may power to stop this.”