OBRA 17: Tenacity in social consciousness through art

As many voices continue to be suppressed and defending our rights remains to be a never-ending struggle, the Visual and Performing Arts Production Unit (VPAPU) took it up a notch and presented today’s relevant societal issues in an online art gallery titled OBRA 17: Tenacity of Society from December 13 to 18 via WordPress.

Featuring thought-provoking artworks and masterpieces of VPAPU artists, the showcase served as eye openers to realities happening on the ground — leading the audience into a spine-chilling experience.

The silent killer

As many accounts of oppression hounded the nation in the past, thousands of Filipinos were pushed to be silenced in one way or another – and it’s no doubt that history seems to be repeating itself. OBRA 17’s traditional art exhibit highlighted works that depict how this can be a double-edged sword, wielding the possibility to inflict harm.

More often than not, innocent people are caught in undesirable situations as injustice chooses no one. These instances are perpetuated by President Rodrigo Duterte’s infamous drug war, leaving thousands of people killed and families grieving. With this, Ella Limpo’s artwork “Biktima” takes us back to how innocent minors were even targeted as suspects, being defenseless against police brutality.


police brutality and extrajudicial killings in the Philippines

“Biktima” by Ella Limpo


Social injustice is not only a familiar sight on the streets and neighborhoods, but even on rice fields where blood is smeared on the tranquil paddies. Alisha Denise Lario took a different turn with “Lamay sa Palay”, interpreting how farmers’ plights are dismissed when voicing out their demands like the equal distribution of land to their names. Displaying a farmer’s lifeless body lying on the grass field, Lario’s work symbolizes the importance of their crops as everyone’s staple food on the table — an often neglected reality by many.


stop killing farmers

Lamay sa Palayby Alisha Denise Lario


History shows how our society is divided not only in class, but also in gender. This leads to many cases of gender inequality and abuses, creating a hostile environment for what the conventional standards view as the weaker sex.  

Depicting the objectification of women, Aira Alexene Sosa’s photograph, “Psst, ganda!” tells us a thousand stories from the viewpoint of women who are often targets of misogynist remarks, along with the attempts of censorship and victim-blaming. As these situations are either overlooked or normalized, this exacerbates the same cycle of fear that forces some victims to remain silent.


catcalling women

Psst, ganda!by Aira Alexene Sosa


The lies they tell

Social inequalities are driven by a multitude of factors — and lies and deception are just a few of them. This kind of reality becomes more and more alarming as some people continue to perpetuate and condone deceitful acts — letting injustices happen right before our eyes. 

Using the “four monkeys” as the central theme of his piece, Fritzjan Philip Marzan highlighted lies in forms of political evils  such as libel, fake news, fanaticism, and political dynasty. As many public leaders bear and benefit from the rise of false information in the digital age, the artist gives us a glimpse of how people are constantly blocked with lies, preventing them from knowing the truth.


politics in the Philippines

4 Political Evils” by Fritzjan Philip Marzan


There is another side to the worldly lies that people became accustomed to, and it concerns the corruption of the minds of the youth. Alexandra Tubon’s chilling artwork titled “Bata, Dahan Dahan”  shed light on the continuous spike of teenage pregnancies amid the year-long lockdown in the country, presenting how lies could breed more tremendous impacts in the current state of our society. With discussions and education about sex continuously seen as taboo, youth are left with no choice but to navigate their curiosity and discover the answers within themselves — all while being clueless of the consequences that may rise down the road.


teenage pregnancy

Bata, Dahan Dahanby Alexandra Tubon


The other face of inequality

The lingering threat against a bright future is fueled by injustices and deception, and it is a struggle to break from this vicious cycle. 

As some people turn a blind eye to some stories of struggles amid the pandemic, the current generation experiences a taste of inequality with the tremendous shift in education. In a photograph, Ashly Dellomas Amodente captured that still moment of pressure while concealed with a carefree face in her piece titled “Mask”, embodying how students hide their struggles behind a happy face. 

With the current educational setup taking a huge toll on many, reality has it that the flexible learning mode does not seem to be ‘flexible’ anymore — or it has never been.


pandemic struggles

Maskby Ashly Dellomas Amodente



VPAPU’s OBRA 17 reaches out from the four corners of the artworks’ frames in hopes of painting the true colors of reality into the eyes of the audience. It allows us to take a firm grip and act on our twisted reality where injustices, oppression, and inequality have joined forces, proving how art should comfort the disturbed, and disturb the comfortable. 

Slider Courtesy of the Visual and Performing Arts Production Unit.

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