By Liwliwa Malabed
Our contributors are a varied sort: some from NGOs, others from a more corporate background; some are well-known across the board while others lead quieter lives. Regardless of who they are and where they come from, they have something to say about our population, and we should all listen.
The following message is from Liwliwa Malabed, who has been writing for Mulat Pinoy since 2009:
The air tastes of Christmas year-round. Flowers grow wild and vibrant, dotting the hills with a palette of colors. The mountain awakes to the sound of jeepney engines revving and pine needles falling. The wonderful smell of lunch cooking teases and lingers. The cold seeps into layers of fabric, defying the sun, urging lovers and dwellings closer.
Baguio City. Nothing inspires the senses better than the Summer Capital of the Philippines. This is why a number of notable artists call Baguio their home. One of them is Ben-hur Gorospe Villanueva, a sculptor, painter and art educator.
We visited Ben-hur Villanueva in his gallery-workshop, Arko ni Apo. Villanueva believes that the success of an artist lies in making the viewer think, if not to understand. A piece of art should raise questions, invoke reactions, tell a story and re-educate. And sure enough, his sculpture, “Enough is Enough,” tells a timely RH story.
Carved from molave, the hard wood lends its strength to the figure. The woman’s torso boasts curves that nourish, illustrating the resilient spirit of a mother. The lines are firm yet feminine. Muscles tense as a safety pin deliberately gathers the stomach into a close.
“Enough is Enough” is Villanueva’s personal statement on family planning. “An artist gets an idea from what is happening in society, and that idea is applied and transformed into a composition or artwork. I made this particular sculpture when I realized that we are already blessed with 8 children and we need to stop. Not only was I worried that we couldn’t feed them, but I was also worried about my wife’s health. Kawawa naman si Mommy.”
When it comes to the RH Bill, Villanueva says “Let the couple decide. It’s their life. I’m not against the Church, but the Church cannot decide for the husband and wife.” The artist asserts that everyone has the freedom to choose. The RH bill gives that right to choose to all Filipinos, whether to abide by the Church’s teachings or to avail of modern contraception. He based this perspective to the realities of life: “A pedicab driver and a house maid fall in love and gets married. Let’s be practical, they can’t afford to have 8 or 9 kids. But if they do have that many children, will the Church help feed and raise them?”
Villanueva explains that poor couples are unable to plan their families because they lack information and resource. “What do you expect from them? Most did not finish their studies. With a family they cannot support, they will end up poorer than ever. Some are even forced to live under bridges and consequently, become a problem to society.” The alarming population growth also poses a predicament. “How can you ensure jobs for everyone?” Villanueva asks.
For Villanueva, family planning should not stop at home. “As a country, we need to plan ahead. What we need, ever since, is social engineering. It’s not too late. We can change this. Wag lang tayong gumalaw pag nalulunod na. As an individual, we play roles in the society. Let us not be selfish. Dapat may pakialam tayo, kailangan mag-ingay ka.” Villanueva urges other artists to make a difference. “As an artist, create artwork that makes sense—yung may laman.”
“Enough is Enough” may not be as celebrated and historical as Villanueva’s “Ang Supremo” (The Fort, Global City, Taguig City) and “The Builders” (Baguio Botanical Garden) but like the two public artworks, it is revolutionary: it carries our culture and mirrors the spirit of times. The call for change resonates in every fiber of the sculpture. “Enough is Enough” asserts our right to plan for our families. It upholds our tradition of care and respect for Filipino women.
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