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UP Diliman to Display Protest Art by Toym Imao Next Month

'Barikada' and 'Desaparecidos' will be on display from February 1 to 9.

From February to April, the University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD) will be celebrating its Arts and Culture Festival with the theme, ‘Engkwentro.’ The festival commemorates the Diliman Commune and the 500th anniversary of Triumph at the Battle of Mactan and the arrival of Christianity in the country.

Just in time for the celebrations, the university is erecting two art installations conceptualized and designed by multi-media visual artist Toym Imao from February 1 to 9. The first installation, called the ‘Barikada’, will be displayed in front of the Oblation and is symbolic of the Filipino people’s fight against oppression. (Read: 3 Times UP Was Red-Tagged and Called ‘Bayaran’ This Year)

The second installation, on the other hand, will be on display at the UP Theatre. It will be called ‘Desaparecidos’ — in commemoration of all those who disappeared during the dark days of dictator Ferdinand Marcos’s Martial Law.

Students’ Uprising

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Photos from Toym Leon Imao Facebook

According to Imao, Barikada is a recreation of the barricade students used in the ’70s during the years of the uprisings. It makes use of materials from old installations as well as condemned university furniture.

And while its red paint can mean many things to different people— the color of roses, a woman’s lipstick, a firetruck— Imao says the color is actually a symbolic representation of a significant moment in UP’s history. (Read: John Lloyd, Maria Ressa Star in Video Protest Against Anti-Terror Law)

Kung kami ang inyong tatanungin, isa po itong paraang biswal ng paggunita sa isang makabuluhang yugto sa kasaysayan ng isang institusyon at ang kanyang komunidad na mulat at handang ipaglaban ang karapatan at tama laban sa isang diktadurya,” said Imao.

UP Diliman Commune

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(February 1, 1971) Student leaders started rallying students of the College of Arts and Sciences, forming a human barricade at the entrance of the University to keep public vehicles from entering the campus. (Photo from University of the Philippines: A University for Filipinos, 1984 / University of the Philippines Facebook)

The installations, as mentioned, were designed to memorialize all those who died at the hands of the dictator and the students’ uprising against all those who have tried to rob them of their rights and freedom.

One of these uprisings is the 1971 Diliman Commune, which will be celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. (Read: UP Officials, VP Robredo Denounce Termination of UP-DND Accord)

Organized by students, faculty, and residents of the UP Diliman campus, the Diliman Commune was a protest to denounce the three-centavo oil price hike during the Marcos administration.

It lasted 10 days, from February 1 to 9, and was led by UPD Student Council, the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan, and other student groups and organizations in the university.

Tension heightened when the Philippine Constabulary (now the Philippine National Police) and the UP Police barged into the campus and arrested students. One student died, while four students, one faculty, and five security guards were injured. Almost P100,000 worth of damages was also reported.

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