IF this brouhaha over the communists’ vandalism of the Manila’s iconic Lagusnilad (the first underpass in the country) tells us anything, it is as follows:
Communist activists today are lunatics, yet they astonishingly are still able to get some media people to buy into their crazy narrative.
I do not exaggerate when I call them lunatics. The slogan painted by the communist vandals of the group Panday Sining on Lagusnilad’s white-tiled walls was “Digmang [sic] Bayan, Sagot sa Martial Law” (People’s War, Response to Martial Law).
That slogan was what we — that is, when I was a fire-breathing activist in my youth — splashed on walls in 1971, when rumors were rife that then-President Marcos was poised to declare martial law, in response to the bombing of Plaza Miranda — which many years later would be proven to have been actually done by the Communist Party to foment chaos.
There was even a twist, hilarious but tragic, to that slogan. Then Communist Party chieftain Jose Ma. Sison boasted at the time that Marcos would be overthrown by “people’s war” if he declared martial law.
When Marcos did impose martial law in September 1972, Sison and his core group scampered away in panic, so much so that he was able to contact the New People’s Army leadership, based in Isabela, only after two years. Worse, in a few years’ time after martial law, nearly the entire communist leadership would be killed or arrested, including Sison and his military commander, Kumander Dante. Martial law proved to be a boon for Marcos, enabling him to rule the country for a decade with hardly any opposition.
It is the year 2019 today, how can you not call these communist vandals lunatics if they’re in a time warp, using a slogan that is 38 years old? How can you not call them lunatics if there has been no people’s war breaking out in Mindanao, where Duterte did declare martial law?
The slogan symbolizes the overall lunacy of the Left. How else can one explain their view of the Philippines as ripe for revolution through a “people’s army” of peasants encircling the cities; their continuing embrace of “Mao Zedong Thought” and “dialectical materialism”; and their veneration of their guru Jose Ma. Sison who has lived very comfortably for 22 years in a country that is part of the imperialist camp? They have even a stark-mad slogan: “Down with Duterte-US-Chinese Imperialism”.
The utter ludicrousness of the graffiti in Lagusnilad, which a representative of Panday Sining, Francis Joven, claims is “protest art,” is even demonstrated in one detail. The vandal who painted the graffiti misspelled “digmaang” (war) as “digmang.” That either shows how bad our educational system has become, or the vandal was so terrified at what he was doing he misspelled a word he obviously has been fond of using.
This brouhaha reveals another astonishing yet very disappointing fact. Our media — at least a few of them — have become so weak-minded as to be drawn into the communist justification for their vandalism, that it is “protest art.”
Supposedly a veteran journalist, Ed Lingao was a mouse when he interviewed the Panday Sining head, who exuded the arrogance of a fanatic lecturing him on art. Lingao even claimed that there was “debate” in social media whether the Lagusnilad graffiti was vandalism or protest art, and titled his program “Street art or vandalism?”
I hope Lingao doesn’t have future editions like “Revolutionary tax or extortion?” or “Revolutionary justice or communist terrorism?”
Either Lingao is sympathetic to the communist cause, or he doesn’t have any clue what “art” is that he should not have interviewed a punk who claims to be an artist.
Look, the communist slogans painted on Lagusnilad’s walls are of the same kind as graffiti by street gangs that send, or try to send, the message that they exist — even if they can demonstrate their existence only through such graffiti painted in the middle of the night, or in a protest action. These are exactly of the same genre as the “Batang City-Jail” “OXO” graffiti in Tondo decades ago, and those in US inner cities today by street gangs. Dogs and other beasts also do this to mark, or attempt to mark, their territory, or just to say they were in that area.
Of all things to describe art. It has one outstanding feature: It is the product of intense, creative inspiration, and often done after a long, and even painful, period of time and effort.
You often hear wise-guy comments that any child can paint what American abstractionist Jackson Pollock painted — for example, the splashes of paint on a big canvas that signified nothing. But as one biography related, it took weeks for Pollock to determine, and visualize what he will be painting. “Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is,” Pollock has said.
Now what “self-discovery” do you think did that communist punk experience in painting the Lagusnilad wall with “Digmang [sic] Bayan, Sagot sa Martial Law”? How could it be art when that punk simply painted on the walls communist slogans he doesn’t even understand, and was simply ordered by his commissar to write? A trained monkey could do that.
What’s astonishing is that to justify the communists’ graffiti, one commentator even went to the extent of boasting that he has read the works of German cultural theorists Herbert Marcuse, Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, only to make this very ignorant claim: “For those who are into protest art, it is art. But for those in authority, it is vandalism.”
Real art is art, whether done or viewed by protesters or by those in authority, for whatever political aim. Picasso’s masterpiece “Guernica” is art, even as it was a powerful protest against the Spanish fascists. His 1951 painting “Massacre in Korea” which protested US intervention in the Korean War is often described as Picasso’s communist work, but no one questions whether it is art or not. Soviet propaganda posters of the 1930s and ’40s is art, so is the Chinese communist ballet “Red Detachment of women.”
There has in fact been outstanding graffiti protest art in Europe in past decades, and I was an admirer of these when I lived from 2005 to 2010 in Athens, which was called at that time a “Paradise for Graffiti Artists” as authorities looked the other way when these street artists worked on their art. More recently, in Beirut, street art has become a form of protest by those opposing government. It’s another thing though if it’s good art or bad art.
As the images accompanying this column show, there is no comparison between street protest art and the scribblings by communist punks in Lagusnilad and a gang in Los Angeles.
Aargh! I wouldn’t have wasted an entire column on this topic if not for media men of middling minds being drawn into, and reporting, the communist punks’ narrative that theirs is “protest” art. It’s so plainly clear these are the equivalent of dogs’ piss in the world of our species.
The Lagusnilad graffiti was vandalism of the ugliest kind. There is absolutely no debate on that. I hope somebody paints a slogan “Down with the Communist Party” on the walls of the house of that Panday Sining head, and insist it is art.