'Tumindig': Artwork inspires Filipino netizens to take courage to dissent

Erik Tenedero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 21 2021 08:47 PM | Updated as of Jul 21 2021 09:24 PM

When Tarantadong Kalbo created and shared one of his artworks on social media over the weekend, he did not expect it to turn into a social movement.

His latest digital art depicted rows of "human fists" that resemble the popular "fist bump" gesture associated with President Rodrigo Duterte and his supporters.

In the midst of those fists that all seem to be bowing, one was up on his feet. It dared to be different.

Instead of the "fist bump", it was a raised fist — a global symbol of activism and fight against oppression. 

Days after this was put out on social media, the artwork inspired fellow artists and ordinary citizens to come up with their own digital depiction of themselves joining the lone raised fist. 

Filipino artists, LGBTQ+ rights advocates, medical frontliners, and many others have echoed Tarantadong Kalbo's call. 

"Wala sa plano 'yung may ‘magtutuloy’ nung artwork ko. Kaya din nagulat ako nung may nagdagdag ng kani-kanilang mga sarili dun sa likha," Kevin Eric Raymundo, the artist behind Tarantadong Kalbo, said in an interview with ABS-CBN News. 

"Natutuwa ako na nag-resonate 'yung ginawa ko sa maraming tao. In a way, nabuhayan ako ng loob. Naisip ko, may pag-asa pa tayo, basta sama-samang tumitindig."

[It was not in may plan that people would continue on with my artwork. That's why I was surprised that people are slowly adding themselves to the artwork. I'm happy that my creation resonated to the people. In a way, I became more hopeful. I realized, there's hop as long as we a take a stand together.]

Raymundo admitted that the political climate under the Duterte administration was what inspired him to create the now viral digital drawing. 

"I wanted to create a piece na ine-encapsulate ang pakiramdam ng isang artist-activist sa panahon ni Duterte at ng kanyang terror law," he said. 

[I wanted to create a piece that would encapsulate the feeling of being an artist-activist during the time of Duterte and his terror law.] 

The Anti-Terror Law has been criticized as a ploy to silence the dissenters of the Duterte government under the guise of combating terrorism. 

Despite Malacañang's insistence that the president does not single out his detractors, some of those who have criticized the chief executive have been on the receiving end of his verbal attacks, as well of those who support him.

Sen. Leila De Lima, a fierce critic of Duterte since his time as Davao City mayor, has been in jail due to drug charges she believes are trumped-up.

Media groups perceived to be critical in their reports about the administration have also been verbally attacked by Duterte in various speeches. 

Priests and bishops who criticize Duterte's brutal drug war were also not spared from his fiery attacks. He called the Catholic Church the "most hypocritical" institution. 

Raymundo emphasized the importance of dissent amid the threats and attacks.

"Napakahalaga para sa akin ang 'dissent' at palagi itong nakakabit sa bawat guhit. Ika nga nila: 'kaya ligtas ang mga tahimik ay dahil sa mga sumisigaw,'" he said. 

[Dissent is very important at it is always tied to every drawing. As they say: the silent are safe because of those who chose to speak up.] 

Like many people who express their dissent on social media, Raymundo had a fair share of bashing from those who oppose his message, including from internet trolls. 

"Sanay na din ako. Dalawang taon na din akong lumalaban sa aking webkomiks. Nakakapagod, pero kinakaya. One day at a time," he said. 

[I'm used to it. I've been fighting with my web comics for 2 years now. It's tiring but I'm still managing. One day at a time.] 

The 35-year-old said this is exactly the reason why one must be courageous and standing up for what is right. 

"'Wag tayong mabuhay sa takot. Let’s use our skills and talents to our advantage. Having the choice to 'be positive' in our art is a privilege," Raymundo said. 

"I am aware of my own privilege as well, and I will use it to amplify the voice of the oppressed, even at the cost of losing 'fans.' I do not create art just for the sake of aesthetics. Art is always political, whether we like it or not."

[Let us not live in fear. Let's use our skills and talents to our advantage.] 

Below are some of the netizens who added their own drawings to Raymundo's artwork: