With the many scandals and issues plaguing the Philippine nation today, the celebration of Gat Andres Bonifacio’s 150th could not have come at a better time. Documentaries and exhibitions about the Supremo are once again created to remember and commemorate other unsung heroes who also fought for the independence of this country, and to remind them of the unjust portrayal and treatment of Bonifacio as the “Father of the Philippine Revolution” and the founder of the Kataastaasan, Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (KKK).
The memorialization of the iconic image of Andres Bonifacio as both a hero and revolutionary leader has been prevalent in the Philippine society since time immemorial. It has become a constant symbol to the Filipinos of their never-ending struggle against imperialism, oppression, censorship, and corruption. Throughout the years, the representation and recreation by artists of iconic images from the 1898 Revolution and of Gat Andres produced artworks that would echo the oppression and trial of the Filipino as a nation. During the Marcos regime, figures and symbols of Filipinos struggling to destroy tyranny, dictatorship, and censorship were prominent. Today, society is bombarded with contemporary artworks of ordinary citizens battling against the elite and politicians whose greed over wealth and power consume them causing pillage and plunder.
The “Alay sa Malayang Bayan” exhibition at the GT Toyota Asian Cultural Center and the “Bonifacio @ 150” at the Cultural Center of the Philippines both feature artworks of rebellion and revolution in different perspectives. Some created images of Andres Bonifacio as a modern day Juan who continues to protest against the torment and ill-doings of the government and the elite. Some artists, on the other hand, integrated symbolisms and metaphors such as the red flag, camisa de chino, and bolos with present-day scenes to signify the continuing presence of rebellion in contemporary time. Ugatlahi Artists’ Collective’s “Continuing Past” exemplifies this continuity of defiance and resistance through the fusion of traditional and modern elements. The Ugatlahi artists merged images of rural and urban spaces with natives, ordinary citizens, and members of the Katipunan to show the unceasing effort of people up to this day to pursue their rights as Filipinos, albeit the extent of time and location. In addition to that, the artists included a short, however concise, statement pushing more people to join in carrying out and accomplishing what the Supremo has started, stating “Ipagpatuloy ang Paglaban para sa Kalayaan at Pambansang Demokrasya!”